Critique of Spitzer/biz media relationship lacks examples
Jack Shafer of Slate.com writes that the recent column criticizing the business media for taking Eliot Spitzer’s allegations against Wall Street at face value by The Wall Street Journal‘s Kimberley Strassel was lacking in specific examples.
Shafer wrote, “Strassel also finds skullduggery in Spitzer biographer Brooke A. Masters’ comparison of ‘the attorney general to no less than Teddy Roosevelt.’ For crying out loud! Lots of pieces about Spitzer compare him to Teddy if for no other reason than Spitzer encourages the comparisonâ€”he worships the old pol, keeping a conspicuous picture of him in his office for reporters to see! Other non-nefarious reasons a reporter might compare Eliot to Teddy: Both battled Wall Street. Both became governor of New York. Both bullied their opponents.
“The remainder of Strassel’s press critique neglects to name the favorite reporters to whom he ‘doled out scoops’ and ‘who repaid him with allegiance.’ The publications that ‘buried inside’ the news that would embarrass the prosecutor also go unnamed. She claims that news organizations (unnamed, in the interest of consistency, I suppose) ‘that dared to criticize him’ found themselves ‘cut off.’ But this allegation cuts against Strassel’s thesis, of course, by noting that some reporters refused to give Spitzer the tongue bathings he seems to have demanded. Excellent avenue for exploration in a piece of press criticism, don’t you think? Similarly, I don’t recall the press lining up to protect Spitzer in the wake of his state trooper scandal.
“None of this is to say that Spitzer was my kind of attorney general or that the press distinguished itself in its coverage of him. He wasn’t and it didn’t. Bias for Spitzer, where it existed, probably grew out of reporters’ preference for action over inaction. Many reporters become blocked when assigned to write about something that isn’t happening. That’s why they love writing stories and columns about the horrors of ‘gridlock’ and ‘do-nothing’ politicians.
“To make the case that the press serviced Spitzer, Strassel needs to do more than shake her bloody burlap bag as evidence.”
Read more here.