27
Sep
2006

Should I or shouldn’t I…

Written by  |  under General Rants, Journalism

I have been going back and forth about whether I should say anything about the Bill Clinton Vs. Chris Wallace debacle. Part of me says it comes dangerously close to revealing my political affiliation, which I try not to do for numerous reasons, but the journalist side of me want sto comment, so … yep, it wins out.

It needed to be done. I am sick and tired of pseudo-journalists pussy-footing around sitting politicians, but yet they feel high-and-mighty enough to act like they have all the answers when it comes to a former one. You have to treat them all equally or you get what you deserve, which is exactly what Clinton did. Yes, I do think he went overboard with his anger, and it damaged his side, but seeing the flustered look on Chris Wallace’s face was worth every second of it. Seeing someone put one of these “Celeb Journalists” be knocked down a couple of pegs was worth every second of it.

KBIA, the NPR station out of Columbia,MO, has a wonderful show every Wednesday called “Views Of The News“, hosted by MU School of Journalism faculty members. This week, they of course discussed this subject, and sadly I didn’t get it written down, but they brought up one really interesting tidbit of info. In reference to this section of the interview:(I would love to link you to video of this, but Fox News is ordering everyone to take it down, but you can read the transcript here, and if you hunt around their site you can find it)

CLINTON: …You did you nice little conservative hit job on me. But what I want to know..

WALLACE: Now wait a minute sir!

CLINTON:..

WALLACE: I asked a question. You don’t think that’s a legitimate question?

CLINTON: It was a perfectly legitimate question but I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked this question of. I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked why didn’t you do anything about the Cole. I want to know how many you asked why did you fire Dick Clarke. I want to know!

WALLACE: We asked..

CLINTON:..

WALLACE: Do you ever watch Fox News Sunday sir?

CLINTON: I don’t believe you ask them that.

WALLACE: We ask plenty of questions of…

CLINTON: You didn’t ask that did you? Tell the truth

WALLACE: About the USS Cole?

CLINTON: tell the truth.

WALLACE: …with Iraq and Afghanistan there’s plenty of stuff to ask.

CLINTON: Did you ever ask that?

Well, research has been done (and as soon as I can find out by whom, I will update this), and going all the way back to 9/11, they can not find where Chris Wallace ever asked these questions. Gee, what a shocker.

If this had happened on CNN, MSNBC or any other news outlet, I would be applauding it just as loudly. The “journalists” are being allowed to control the direction of the news too much, they are directing the flow and ebb as opposed to doing their true job, documenting the news and investigating the stories. Instead they seem satisfied to let the news come to them, and when they do get an oppurtunity to interview someone such as Clinton, they make a grandiose show of it, “Look! We’re still relevant! We can ask hard hitting questions…sure, all our questions were formulated by our research interns, but…um…PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN!” There is no courage, no fire, left in journalists, there are no Woodward and Bernsteins, we now have namby-pamby figureheads who ask bottle-fed questions and no longer know how to conduct proper interviews.

They have allowed themselves to become celebrities and more of a story then the story itself. Just think back to when Katie Couric took over the CBS Evening News. Can anyone remember what the stories were then, or do you remember more the debate over what her signoff should be each night? I think Chris Wallace saw an oppurtunity to be known as the one to “rake Clinton over the coals” and he was not ready for Clinton to *gasp* stand-up for himself! Instead of letting the host talk over him and shut him down (ala what Chris Matthews does to every one that comes on Hardball), he dared to talk back.

I know I’m not making a whole lot of sense, but damn it, I’m passionate about journalism, TRUE journalism, and I miss it! I wish someone could find it again, and if Clinton’s confrontation makes people ponder where it went, even a little, I’ll say it was all worth it.

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  • http://www.blogd.com Luis

    Actually, there was one interview–which right-wingers are now blowing up as if it were a huge thing–in March 2004, in which Wallace went as far as to say to Rumsfeld, “What do you make of his basic charge that, pre-9/11, that this government, the Bush administration, largely ignored the threat from Al Qaeda?” and “Mr. Secretary, it sure sounds like fighting terrorism was not a top priority.” But out of 43 interviews with senior Bush officials between 9/11 and the present, that’s as hard-hitting as he ever got. In twenty interviews before and a dozen after, he did not go hardball like that–but in his very first with Clinton, he lobs that particular spitball, dripping with political innuendo at a time when the issue has been so baldy distorted by the right wing.

    As usual, Media Matters covers it well.

  • http://www.seanpaune.com Sean P Aune

    Oh, ok, 1 time out of 43, I take back everything I said about Wallace:-p Clinton was just a big old meaniehead talking to him like that. (and no, I’m not attacking you Luis, I’m attacking all the defenders) It was still a disaster of an interview, as most interviews are nowadays.