Foreign Policy

Journalist: My Political Job Is "Apolitical"

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Fun little media/politics story today from the New York Times:

Republicans have long accused mainstream journalists of being on the payroll of President Obama and the Democratic Party, a common refrain of favoritism especially from those on the losing end of an election (see Bush vs. Gore, Clinton vs. Bush and Bush vs. Dukakis).

But this year the accusation has a new twist: In some notable cases it has become true, with several prominent journalists now on the payrolls of Mr. Obama and the Democratic Congressional leadership.

My favorite what-me-biased quote from the journo/G-men comes from former L.A. Times managing editor Douglas Frantz:

As the chief investigator of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Frantz said he was acting much like an investigative reporter, but with two potential tools he could only dream about having previously: subpoena power and, should his application be accepted, security clearance to review classified data.

With a press aide for Mr. Kerry monitoring the interview — the sort of arrangement that annoys reporters — Mr. Frantz said he did not view his new job as promoting any partisan aim.

"Pursuing the truth is apolitical," he said.

I look forward to Frantz' apolotical truth-pursual of the still-unrecognized-by-the-U.S. Armenian genocide.

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  1. Giving cushy govt jobs to ‘journalists’ at the same time their current/previous employers’ financial woes make them worried about their income is Change We Can Believe In.

    Yes! We! Can!

  2. “Pursuing the truth is apolitical,” he said.

    I.e. “Opposing political views are opinion and thus open to charges of bias. Mine are simple fact because I’m always right and infallible, so I’m immune from charges of bias”.

  3. Mine are simple fact because I’m always right and infallible

    That prick is mocking me!

  4. Why is this Armenian Genocide thing so popular now? I don’t get it. It’s bad shit that happened a good ways back. But that’s what a significant portion of human history consists of doesn’t it?

  5. Has our government even apologized for slavery or Japanese Internment or Native American genocide in our own country? Sorry if I don’t care if they are silent on the Armenian genocide this Tuesday morning, or tomorrow, or all day Thursday.

  6. I, for one, will be outraged until we heavily censure Belgium for their actions in the Congo.

  7. @Billy!
    Don’t you think it is hypocritical to have laws that criminalize Holocaust denial, but not Armenian genocides?

  8. Billy, most of our present day allies deserve a stern talking to about their past transgressions. I think we should apply several hundred million dollars of stimulus money to investigate who needs to say they are sorry to whom, presuming the apologee(?) has any remaining ancestors.

  9. Nick,

    I believe that Clinton took care of two of those three “issues” on his watch. I gotta disagree. It’s sorta like when companies that get taken to court pay a fine and “admit no fault”. It’s bullshit. Damn straight you were in the wrong and the perpetrators need to be named and censored. Admittedly, no one is gonna suffer a fatal ego blow in Turkey over that genocidal event. It’s the principle of it, I suppose.

  10. No government job is truly apolitical.

  11. Wow, LA times and the Armenian Genocide. A bit of an axe to grind there?

    Fact is, nobody except the Armenian diaspora cares. They want everyone to accept it as fact, while the only thing that can really be independently confirmed is that it’s REALLY hard to get the permits necessary from the Armenian government to do an unbiased investigation.

    Lobbying governments around the world to declare it a universal truth has governments writing history – oh, wait, that’s not new…


  12. Billy, most of our present day allies deserve a stern talking to about their past transgressions. I think we should apply several hundred million dollars of stimulus money to investigate who needs to say they are sorry to whom, presuming the apologee(?) has any remaining ancestors.

    Pot, kettle, black.

  13. Jaydub,

    “Do as I say not as I do” does take on a more sinister meaning at times, no?

  14. Episiarch,

    What about librarians in Alaska? Surely they are at least safe from politics.

  15. Or, to quote Marlowe: “Thou hast committed — / Fornication; but that was in another country;/ And besides, the wench is dead.”

    The Turks committed genocide. But they are a long way away, and they did it under another government. And the victims? They are dead.

    And yes, our measly government has apologized for slavery and the internment of the Japanese. All inquiries about our native populations, however, should be addressed to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a still-existing chunk of the U.S. government.

  16. I know a librarian in Alaska. She had enormous Idaho farm girl strength when she worked for me. A very even-handed and fair person.

  17. Naga, which part do you disagree with? Me not caring if our government says a word about Armenian genocide? That was the only assertion I thought I made. I still don’t care. I think if the Armenians feel they were wronged, that’s all that matters. Our collective opinion which really won’t be, doesn’t mean anything.

    Jaydub, next time I will include the sarcasm tag. Sorry.

  18. Excuse me, but didn’t Tony Snow, a journalist of sorts, go to work for the Bush Administration? Didn’t Pat Buchanan go back and forth, in his immitably fascist sort of way? I can’t wait for Doug to use his long dreamed of subpoena power on the New York Times, to find out why the hell they don’t fire Tom Friedman.

  19. I would rather refer to Turkey’s WWI crimes against Armenians as the Armenian Mass Murder, since the concept of genocide hadn’t been invented at the time and I don’t believe in ex post facto legislation.

    Likewise with the Ukrainian atrocities – mass murder, not genocide, there was no legal concept of genocide in the 1930s.

    ‘I know a librarian in Alaska. She had enormous Idaho farm girl strength when she worked for me.’

    Very useful to have a really strong librarian to haul those copies of War and Peace and the Oxford English Dictionary.

  20. Actually Mad Max, she was most useful in dealing with rowdy patrons. Civil War scholars often show up drunk.

  21. Oh course the real howler of obliviousness/denial/propaganda from the NYT is this:

    But this year the accusation has a new twist: In some notable cases it has become true…

  22. I don’t mind journos going to work for politicians. I mind them pretending, while journalists, that they do not have their own biases.

  23. “Billy, most of our present day allies deserve a stern talking to about their past transgressions. I think we should apply several hundred million dollars of stimulus money to investigate who needs to say they are sorry to whom, presuming the apologee(?) has any remaining ancestors.”

    Angling for a government “consulting” job are we?

  24. You apologize to Neanderthal now.

  25. Here’s more on those Belgians.

    On a wider note, it’s good to see Reason discussing bias for once. Good job.

  26. I don’t mind journos going to work for politicians. I mind them pretending, while journalists, that they do not work for politicians.

  27. Didn’t the Clinton administration have a two-way-street kind of thing with the media? Ie, a lot of former Clinton officials ended up in the media?

  28. SugarFree,

    Ah, I forgot it was *Alaska* we’re talking about.

    I suppose it’s possible that there have been Civil-War related drunken brawls in North Carolina libraries, but if so I haven’t heard about them. And I dare say that North Carolinians go to libraries at least as much as Alaskans.

  29. Alaskan libraries: 37 Books About Snow…

  30. FTFY — I’m a journo. Never have worked for a politician, never will.

  31. Actually, on second thought, I better never say never. I probably CAN be bought.

  32. “Angling for a government “consulting” job are we?”

    I was going to offer my services for the post. 🙂

  33. I look forward to Frantz’ apolotical truth-pursual of the still-unrecognized-by-the-U.S. Armenian genocide.

    Has Congress officially recognized the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre? No. Yet no one is offended by this — even though it took place in our own country!

    Last I looked, opining on the occurrence or non-occurrence of historical events is not among the powers given to Congress in the Constitution.

  34. I probably CAN be bought.

    “OK, if you think that by threatening me, you can get me to be your slave, well… that’s where you’re right, but – and I’m only saying this because I care – there are a lot of decaffeinated brands on the market today that are just as tasty as the real thing.”

  35. How many people would be offended if the US government rescinded its recognition of the Jewish holocaust?


  36. I can’t wait for Doug to use his long dreamed of subpoena power on the New York Times, to find out why the hell they don’t fire Tom Friedman.

    Alan for the win!

  37. JESUS SOUPED UP CHRIST IN A SIDECAR! I am now paying Doug Fucking Frantz’s salary?

    All and sundry, regarding the Armenian genocide: The back story is that Frantz irradiated himself at the L.A. Times on the issue of the Armenian troubles, and ended up leaving. His departuer had nothing to do with that change in ownership the Real Times mentions in its story.

    The paper, in an effort to serve L.A.’s prominent Armenian community some years ago, made an editorial announcement that “genocide” would henceforward be the term from the events of 1915.

    That policy was always begrudged by a lot of realpolitik types at the paper, who didn’t understand why a paper with “Los Angeles” in its title would want to please readers in the city of Los Angeles when all the Washington experts they knew agreed that the respectable media should do all in their power to avoid rocking U.S.-Turkey relations.

    Frantz was one of those who was always trying in weird and subtle ways to undermine the paper’s Armenian Genocide policy. He got into trouble when he put a reporter named Mark Arax off a story, telling Arax that he was incapable of being unbiased because he was himself nothing but a dirty Armenian dog. (I’m paraphrasing.) Arax got some kind of settlement, or so they said. Frantz went to work for some outfit in Istanbul, surprise surprise, and I had hoped the United States was rid of him for good.

  38. Civil War scholars often show up drunk.

    I thought that was Civil War re-enactors.

  39. “On a wider note, it’s good to see Reason discussing bias for once. Good job.”

    Bugger off, Chris, the adults are talking.

  40. BakedPenguin,
    We weren’t drunk, we were pleasantly buzzed.

    And we could have won, dammit!

  41. Civil War scholars often show up drunk.

    I thought that was Civil War re-enactors.

    Only in the service of verisimilitude; Civil War soldiers were drunk whenever they could manage it as well.

  42. How many people would be offended if the US government rescinded its recognition of the Jewish holocaust?

    Brandybuck, that would be an affront to the 3 million jews that lost their lives.

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