The Sad State of Political Journalism

Once upon a time journalists and columnists had ethical standards.

They used to come up with original ideas inspired by current events and follow up those ideas with hard-nosed fact finding in search of the truth. Then they wrote original pieces about their findings.

They used to credit public sources.

Sadly, they don’t do that anymore. It has become old fashioned. Passé.

Case in point…
This from the newspaper where Woodward and Bernstein broke the Watergate Scandal back in 1972:
Marco Rubio has what Mitt Romney needs in a vice president
– Kathleen Parker, The Washington Post, 1/3/2012

The Parker opinion piece appears fresh, insightful and original… until…
You see this blog posting from the previous day:
The GOP Ticket: Romney-Rubio
– Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog, 1/2/2012

The Sins of Kathleen Parker

Parker doesn’t commit blatant plagiarism. There is no cut-and-paste here. It’s her own words.

Her sins:

  • Its not original thought
  • Parker leaves out important details
  • Parker fails to credit sources
  • Parker disgraces journalistic authenticity

There is hardly a scrap of original inspiration in Parker’s OPINION piece.

What Parker Leaves Out

Parker’s oversights include:

  • Fails to mention it is Robert Reich’s original suggestion
  • Uses Reich’s reasoning without credit
  • Fails to mention Chris Christie

Parker uses Reich’s insightful suggestion and even the very reason he used justifying his opinion, but without even mentioning his name. She brazenly passed off Reich’s ideas as her own.

Obvious by its omission from Reich’s blog is his failure to mention New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as a running mate for Romney.

Christie is the more obvious choice. He’s more popular than Rubio with Republicans on the national stage. He very publicly endorsed Mitt Romney after his own much publicized decision not to run for President himself. Rubio rebuffed Romney when Romney came knocking at his door asking for his support.

Reich can be forgiven for that oversight. After all, Reich is a progressive/liberal thinker and professor at UC Berkeley for crying out loud. He can’t possibly be expected to understand Republican politics.

Kathleen Parker can’t be forgiven.

Who is Kathleen Parker?

Parker is a highly respected conservative columnist for The Washington Post.

She is perhaps best known to television viewers as the conservative half to Elliot Spitzer’s liberal half in a highly publicized, but short-lived, CNN prime-time news show called “Parker Spitzer”.

A well-know, respected conservative journalist failing to mention Christie as a possible VP for Romney is… welll… unconscionable.

Yes, Parker throws in a couple details Reich doesn’t, but nothing substantial.

It is not that Parker should have to think that Christie would make a better choice than Rubio. She doesn’t. No, its failing to even mention Christie exists that is her cardinal sin. If she had rattled off some reason why she passed over Christie for Rubio then that is perfectly understandable.

This way, it just looks like she ripped off Robert Reich’s opinion, which she probably did.

She forgot that when writing an opinion it should breath fresh insight or bring original new thinking into current events. Hers does neither.


Sound bits and rehashing what others say is passed off as political journalism today. Digging deep for dirty on public figures and mindless repetition has replaced honest journalism and original thought.

It is bad enough that The Washington Post published Parker’s ill-conceived opinion piece,  but I first saw it in the Statesman-Journal, a Gannett chain newspaper out of Salem, Oregon.

This stuff spreads like cancer.

Oh… Woodward and Bernstein… please come back to us.


About azleader

Learning to see life more clearly... one image at a time!

Posted on Jan 5, 2012, in columnists, journalism, journalist, Kathleen Parker, news, Politics, Robert Reich, Writing. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I’ll disagree azleader (dont we all like a little disagreement?). Speculation about Rubio as the veep pick has been widespread for some time now. Examing the ‘why’ of Rubio – as she does here – in an opinion column is not a violation of anything. It’s been written about dozens of times.

    That said, I am very offended by press behavior in general – not because of ethics violations of which there are many of course – but because far too many practitioners just do a lousy job! They’re lazy, they don’t do enough fact checking, they don’t challenge liars. They just do a lousy job. Best example of that is Judith Miller, NY Times reporter, beating the drums of war before we went into Iraq. Her stories were full of bad info, which had been debunked elsewhere, but the Times went with her stories. A disgrace and with deadly consequences. As for the teevee news and pundits – complete failure. Utter failure.

    • Heck… for sure, I don’t have a lock on truth. I can, have and will be wrong.

      When browsing to find what was out there before Reich’s column I did see a Politico story from early October linking Rubio and Romney with the staffing thing and Romney’s 2010 endorsement of Rubio in the Senate.

      Rubio definitely should be in the mix when discussing a Romney running mate if he is nominated. Romney-Rubio would make a terrific GOP ticket.

      My beef is over journalistic authenticity, not her viewpoint. Her viewpoint is fine.

      Given the timing and similarity between the Parker and Reich articles, it smells more like near plagiarism to me than anything else. That strikes me as ironic given their near polar opposite political views.

      Am I missing something? Or am I the only person who thinks that Christie is a natural to be included in a VP discussion for Romney should he get the nomination?… certainly if Rob Portman is included, as Parker does, then I’d think Christie would be to.

      I think I was especially disappointed in the Parker article because I like her and think she did a great job in “Parker Spitzer” before Spitzer and CNN railroaded her out.

      • I just went back and read both Reich’s blog post and Parker’s column. They’re talking about the same scenario for sure but I just don’t see any way her column derives from his post. They’re both very astute observers for sure!

        I wish I could remember where (sadly I can’t), but I’ve had the Romney/Rubio conversation in a few comment threads. The main attraction of course if FLORIDA. I’m a Floridian and still trying to get used to the idea that my state suddenly matters – a lot.

        I agree with you that Christie will be part of the reporting going forward. He spent a good deal of time in Iowa campaigning for Romeny already and I expect we’ll see him here too. He’s a hot GOP property and I’m sure they want him out front as much as possible, whether he becomes a candidate or not.

        By the way, I like Parker too and was a fan of the CNN show. So the stupid network dumps two people who really knew what they were talking about and keeps the insanely annoying Wolf Blitzer on eternally! Is there ever a time when that guy isn’t on air?

      • I used to like CNN so much more than I do now… I think CNN fortunes have declined in recent years.

        I never watched Fox News ever before until a couple months ago. That is because I don’t like biased reporting.

        Ironically, I found Fox to be more unbiased than CNN. That was a surprise to me.

        However… on their silly side, Fox still has Geraldo. LOL!!!

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