Everybody wants to be a star.
At least, that’s the old saying. And lately, it rings true — horrifyingly true — for journalists.
Journalists — or as I always refer to them, “journalists” — are the old-fashioned “reporters” of yore, only better. “Journalists” like to spend a lot of time talking about themselves, how important they are, how they’re mentioned in the very First Amendment to the Constitution. “Journalists” can be found in comfy leather chairs in TV makeup rooms, and they long to see themselves bloviate on the little screen. (The only thing they love more is the sound of their own voices.)
And above all, “journalists” live to lecture others about how the world simply couldn’t exist without them.
These very same “journalists” gathered this weekend to praise themselves and one another at the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) dinner. And God, did they love on themselves. They strolled in to the Washington Hilton across a red carpet, paparazzi camera shutters clicking away. They wined and dined and partied into the wee hours of the morning. And they went to parties with exclusive guest lists (you know, to keep out the little regular people).
Of course, at their dinner, they bashed President Trump, who has called out the fakest of the fake in fake news (hint: Anyone at CNN). And they galloped along on their high horse, so high you had to wonder how they didn’t get altitude sickness.
With 2,500 people packed into the ornate ballroom, WHCA President Jeff Mason of Reuters took the opportunity to whine about Trump, saying he seeks to “delegitimize journalists.”
“We cannot ignore the rhetoric that has been employed by the president about who we are and what we do,” he said. “We are not fake news. We are not failing news organizations, and we are not the enemy of the American people.”
But here’s the thing: That’s exactly what they’ve become. The mainstream media today skews the news all day, every day. They omit facts, run with unverified reports and rely heavily on anonymous sources — the kinds who say outlandish things that often turn out to be completely false. (Remember the big hubbub recently that top Trump aide Steve Bannon was on his way out? Everyone said so. Guess they were all wrong.)
And more, these “journalists” are bent on becoming stars. They want to be the talking heads on the cable news programs — the “powerhouse round table” members on the Sunday news talk shows. There are dozens, maybe hundreds of them, and few of them have done the real work that reporters used to do to become experts in their fields.
Now, for a reference point, there are “journalists” and there are “reporters.” Reporters are the people who go out and gather news. They talk to sources, scour data, follow lead after lead until they peel off all the layers of the onion. They aren’t concerned with TV hits or invites to the fanciest inside-the-Beltway parties. They just work.
Which brings us all the way around to Megyn Kelly. The pretty blonde who posed in sexy shots for GQ became a “star” of the presidential campaign cycle. Trump really disliked her, and she took every opportunity to bash him on her daily Fox show and at a presidential debate for which she was a host.
Her star rose so fast, in fact, that she walked away from Fox and took a multimillion-dollar deal with NBC (land of fake “journalist” Brian Williams). Since then, she’s been featured in the tabloids lounging on beautiful beaches and, of course, like any other “journalist,” walking the red carpet at the Met Gala, wearing hefty diamond earrings that cost more than your car.
The sky’s the limit for Ms. Kelly, the hottest of the new star “journalists,” they all say. But guess what? Her first interview is going to be with — not Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel or even Mr. Trump — the Kardashians, the Daily Mail reports. “The lambskin leather minidress she wore is Louis Vuitton and retails for $4,850.” Ah, doesn’t every reporter have one of those?
This is where “journalism” is going. And don’t get me wrong: While I was an old-school “reporter,” it’s now the 21st-century internet age. This is what the world wants today, and this is what the world is going to get (and likely deserves).
Politico, a left-wing blog in Washington, recently did a survey of White House “journalists.” Pollsters asked them this question: “Do you think President Trump knows you by name?” Twelve percent said yes, 89 percent said no. Now, forget that it adds up to 101 percent. Don’t you see?! The president doesn’t know each and every one of their names and, darn it, that hurts their feelings!
Just wait until the self-obsessed millennials take over “journalism.” Boy, that is not going to be pretty.
• Joseph Curl has covered politics for 25 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent at The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter via@josephcurl.
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