Skip to content

Hey, MSM: All Journalism is Advocacy Journalism

June 30, 2013

By Matt Taibbi

So New York Times Dealbook writer Andrew Ross Sorkin has apologized to journalist Glenn Greenwald for saying he’d “almost arrest” him, for his supposed aid and comfort of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. “I veered into hyperbole,” was Sorkin’s explanation.

I got into trouble the other day on Twitter for asking if David Gregory may have just had a “brain fart” when he asked Greenwald his infamous question, “To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you be charged with a crime?” I hadn’t seen the show and had only read the quote, and quite frankly, I don’t watch a lot of David Gregory. Apparently, in context, even the question I asked is absurd (more on that later). But Sorkin is different. For Sorkin to call his outburst an accident, that I know is hilarious.

Did he also “veer into” a long career as a shameless, ball-gargling prostitute for Wall Street? As Jeff Cohen eloquently pointed out on HuffPo, isn’t Sorkin the guy who’s always bragging about how close he is to top bankers and parroting their views on things? This is a man who admitted, in print, that he only went down to Zucotti Park after a bank C.E.O. asked him, “Is this Occupy thing a big deal?”

(Sorkin’s reassuring response: “As I wandered around the park, it was clear to me that most bankers probably don’t have to worry about being in imminent personal danger . . .”)

And when Senator Carl Levin’s report about Goldman’s “Big Short” and deals like Abacus and Timberwolf came out, it was Sorkin who released a lengthy screed in Dealbook defending Goldman, one I instantly recognized as being nearly indistinguishable from the excuses I’d heard from Goldman’s own P.R. people.

But the biggest clue that Sorkin’s take on Greenwald was no accident came in the rest of that same Squawk Box appearance (emphasis mine):

I feel like, A, we’ve screwed this up, even letting him get to Russia. B, clearly the Chinese hate us to even let him out of the country.

I would arrest him . . . and now I would almost arrest Glenn Greenwald, who’s the journalist who seems to want to help him get to Ecuador.

We? Wow. That’s a scene straight out of Malcolm X. (“What’s the matter, boss, we sick?”) As a journalist, when you start speaking about political power in the first person plural, it’s pretty much glue-factory time.

The irony of all of this is that this whole discussion is taking place in a phony “debate” that’s now being cooked up about the legitimacy of advocacy journalism, which is exactly what Sorkin practices when he goes down to Zucotti Park on behalf of a bank CEO or when he talks about how “we” screwed up, letting Snowden out of the country. Preposterously, they’ve made the debate about Glenn Greenwald, who absolutely does practice advocacy journalism. But to pretend he’s the only one is lunacy.

All journalism is advocacy journalism. No matter how it’s presented, every report by every reporter advances someone’s point of view. The advocacy can be hidden, as it is in the monotone narration of a news anchor for a big network like CBS or NBC (where the biases of advertisers and corporate backers like GE are disguised in a thousand subtle ways), or it can be out in the open, as it proudly is with Greenwald, or graspingly with Sorkin, or institutionally with a company like Fox. Read the rest at Rolling Stone.

Advertisements

From → Analysis

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s