What Bloggers Taught a Reporter, or What NBC’s David Gregory, Meet the Press Heir-Apparent, Seemingly Hasn’t Learned Yet.

“This big.”
“I give you my journalistic integrity.”: David Gregory, NBC News

Salon.com‘s Glenn Greenwald recently covered a confession by Oregon sports columnist Dwight Jaynes, who writes for The Portland Tribune.

In the piece, Greenwald talks about a June 5th column by Jaynes, in which he revealed the way

bloggers “led [him] to alter [his] approach to the way [he] do[es] [his] job as a columnist, pushing [him] away from a philosophy [he] held dear for decades in this business.”

That philosophy had to do with Jayne’s “dependence on access to and favors from the very subjects of his journalism — players, coaches and team executives,” and how it

led him to refrain from writing the truth when it reflected critically on those individuals. Unlike bloggers, who deliberately maintain a distance from those about whom they’re writing, Jaynes describes that the relationships he formed with the subjects of his column prevented candid and independent commentary:

Here, Greenwald quotes Jaynes, directly:

My guideline for years was that, as a beat reporter or a columnist, I would get to know my sources as best I could. I would be there constantly, in their face. I always felt I was impartial enough to write the truth no matter what. And my core values included being there the day after I wrote something negative about someone I covered — so they’d have their shot at me, their fair chance to confront me.

But along the way, at some point, the whole thing kind of went south. The problem with all that, I’ve come to realize, is that I got too close to the people I covered.

What follows in Jaynes’s article, titled “Pixels or paper, truth doesn’t care,” is his description of how, by identifying the way he’d hobbled his reporting through these alliances, he was able to change, and reinvigorate his work, once he saw and discontinued these safe, but bad, habits.

Once in a while, it costs me a story. But you know what? As a columnist, I don’t feel I need their information or their admiration. And I certainly don’t need to worry about making them happy. . . .

Jaynes’s is an excellentt rumination about how the blogosphere is changing media, told personally by a veteran newsman, refreshing in its frankness, humility, and honesty.

This would be enough, except what Greenwald then does is follow up Jaynes’s text with the following, as he deems it, “little vignette”:

“MC ROOOOVE!!!”

NBC’s David Gregory dancing with Karl Rove at the Radio-Television Correspondents’ Association Dinner, March of 2007:

“Yes, master….”

David Gregory, five months later, gently and deferentially interviewing his dance partner on Meet the Press after Rove announced his resignation:

“Homina homina homina homina….”

David Gregory, along with The Politico‘s Mike Allen, expressing deep shock and righteous anger that anyone could possibly think that the media was “too deferential” or acted as “complicit enablers” to the Bush administration:

In short, with supportive video, Greenwald documents the apparent compromising of a leading journalist by the very far-too-close relationships that Jaynes now disdains.

Keep in mind that Greenwald ran the piece this past Thursday, 24 hours before the sudden and tragic death, from a heart attack, of Tim Russert, host of Meet The Press. David Gregory has guest-hosted the show, as he does in the middle frame, above, and, with Russert’s passing, his name has been one put forward as a leading replacement for the deceased journalist.

Because of this unforeseen development, Greenwald’s analysis urges and unsettles far more than it did mere days ago, as do its closing scenes of “the reporters who cover the McCain campaign swinging playfully at his Sedona ranch while drinking Chardonnay,” and the candidate barbecues pork ribs. This coy and incestuous circle is

where, as Megan McCain put it, “the guys from the Politico brought my mom flowers.” It’s Tim Russert, George Stephanopoulos, Gloria Borger, Tom Brokow and friends following McCain around Manhattan, singing “Happy Birthday” to him. It’s all the inter-marriages and other social and professional intertwining between our journalist class and the ruling political elite.

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1 comment so far ↓

#1 LC on 06.17.08 at 8:22 pm

Thanks for the clips. Too bad they’ll never ask Keith Olberman or better yet Bill Moyers. It would be interesting to see if they turned down the job, though.

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