Kudos to anyone old enough to recall the Beatles reference. Even after 25 years this industry vexes me sometimes.
Like the other day when I am sitting down with a cup of tea scanning cable channels for reaction to the latest primaries. On one hand, MSNBC’s far-left lineup included “political analyst” David Axelrod. On the other, Fox’s uber-right featured one Monica Crowley.
The question of objectivity in the age of affirmation media is a puzzling one for us all in this class. I sense it even troubles Rosenstiel and Kovach, who dedicated a sizable portion of Chapter 5 to the subject of expert sources and analysts.
Axelrod, of course, is the political sophisticate who engineered President Obama’s rise from first-term senator to the White House in 2008. His marketing genius enabled Obama to raise millions of dollars in a Kickstarter kind of way that blunted the huge financial and name-recognition advantages of the Clintons. He was rewarded with a key political post during the president’s first term.
Crowley’s credentials are a bit less obvious. A longtime contributor to Fox News, she served as a foreign policy assistant to former President Richard Nixon. She is a well-recognized conservative radio personality, author of several books and holder of a doctorate from Columbia University.
These are both highly credentialed people. I just don’t understand how they can be taken seriously in a campaign year when their political affiliations are so clearly apparent. Sorry, I just can’t take with import anything Axelrod says about the GOP or Crowley etc. about the Dems any more than I can value a sports talk radio host who boldly identifies himself as a Mets fan then offers up analysis on their biggest rivals.
There is a thin line between analysis and affirmation, a point the authors make discreetly in Blur. What is especially troubling to me is that affirmation journalism is so much a part of the existing media culture that news channels don’t even feel inclined to offer full disclosure on their analysts anymore.
Axelrod, Crowley and others are VERY good at what they do and have made themselves wealthy doing it. Good for them; they’re informed and offer relevant insights. If they didn’t, no network would hire them regardless of the network’s raison d’etre.
I just get a bit nostalgic for the old days when, for whatever journalism’s excesses, things seemed a little less partisan and little more on the level. There is no mystery in a news world saturated these days with “analysts” from both sides of the aisle.
I dread the news today. Oh, boy.