Tuesday, March 29, 2011

reporting from a compromising position

the US press seems to be determined to commit ritual hari-kari, an institution without pride or principle, debasing itself before the elites it covers in a frenzied pursuit of "access".

and now we have "closetgate," where an orlando sentinel political reporter was obliged to wait in a storage room (a closet) during a private fundraiser featuring vice president joe biden. as part of the ritual of obtaining access to the remarks given by biden and sen. bill nelson, the reporter -- scott powers -- was required to agree to sequestration during the face-time, hobnobbing that big donors to political campaigns expect when shelling out big money to meet their elected mucky-mucks.

in effect, this is what powers agreed to going in -- stipulations he was under no obligation to accept, except that this is how the access game is played. he (being the designated pool reporter for the press during the event) was acting as an avatar for the press, a stand-in for the institution that derives its legitimacy in the corporate pecking order by its proximity to the centers of power.

this moment will forever define powers' career as a journalist under the american system of pay-to-play politics. in glaring contrast with lincoln's remark at gettysburg that few would remember the remarks made that day, in this instance no one paid the least bit of attention to biden or his remarks -- which were of so little consequence that they hardly qualified as news under any definition -- but the treatment of a butt-boy reporter, who makes a living prostrating himself before the powerful, is transformed into an event of significance, as though it somehow typifies or elucidates something or another.

the real story here is that a non-story is made ersatz news, the spew of cranks and busybodies whose only purpose seems to be to spread inconsequential and irrelevant puffery to terminally cynical and disengaged consumers of substance-free infotainment.

measure this consensual relationship of press to power against the "free-speech zones" instituted during the bush regime to appreciate how far off-kilter we are. our apologies to the esteemed reporter, who became miffed at the less-than-prestigious accommodation he received. he's a responsible, reliable knave, after all, and should be treated as such.

they should have brought him out of the closet, and instead required him to cover the event on his knees -- which in a figurative sense, at least, is where our press' coverage is coming from.

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