Richard Cohen on the Self Interest of the Press

In this column Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, who once had a claim to be considered something other than the usual self-absorbed member of the coastal press corps, tells us that Patrick Fitzgerald of Brooklyn and Chicago should go away quietly.

He opines that destruction of people’s reputations by the Washington political machines in government or out of "K" Street is OK because that is how " the game is played."

He further opines that illegal release of classified information by government officials to the press in pursuit of the above is acceptable and should be tolerated because, if it is not, then journalists, in Washington, will not be able to ply their trade in the marketplace of information.  Why is that in his opinion?  It is because the leakers in government will be afraid to leak and Mr. Cohen will not then be able to take advantage of this porosity and frailty in our government.

I suggest that the journalists should get up off their dead butts and go out and do their own research rather than waiting for some government (foreign or domestic), lobby or corporation to bring "information" to them for the purpose of manipulating public opinion.

For shame, sir.

Pat Lang

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3 Responses to Richard Cohen on the Self Interest of the Press

  1. RJJ says:

    Cohen may be auditioning for the David Broder role.

  2. Michael Murry says:

    I. F. Stone used to call this type of lazy political gossip-mongering: “access journalism.” Stone despised it and said that we should all proceed from the basic assumption that “governments lie.” Given this obvious truism, who would then care to know what ignorant, mendacious courtier-assassins have to say about anything or each other?
    I frankly admit that I have a severe attitude problem regarding authority of any kind. I learned it growing up in the McCarthy-Republican, red-baiting, allegiance-pledging, “Who Lost China!” fascist witch-hunt era of the late 1950s and early 1960s in America. Given that this ambient atmosphere of repressive social and political paranoia led directly to the American War on Vietnam and my own six years of indentured servitude in the US Navy (during the last eighteen months of which I sought vainly under orders to “Vietnamize” some Vietnamese in their own country), I consider my skeptical views on American misgovernment extremely well founded. In any event, I long ago reduced my philosophy to to three simple things to keep in mind whenever confronted by the spoken or written words of a government bureaucrat — civilian or military — or any of their Pet Press enablers:
    (1) If their lips move, suspect them of lying; (2) if their lips move again, consider your suspicions confirmed; and (3) never forget that if they had a choice between lying and telling the truth, with no adverse consequences either way, that they would lie just to keep in practice.
    The unconscionable lying has once again led to needless dying. Reporters and journalists need to help us expose the liars and their lies, not condone and excuse them under any circumstances. The lies have dreadful consequences and so the people should regularly run the liars out of office in deserved disgrace. Reporters and journalists need to help facilitate this cleansing process, not work to twart its therapeutic benefits. Life matters more than than lies; and certainly more than the leisure lifestyles of the liars and their suck-up, sycophant stenographers at NNN: the Nationalist News Network.

  3. Some Guy says:

    Very glad you posted on this. That column was surprising and entirely dissappointing. The ethical calculus was unbelievable (burning covert operatives for political payback versus the annoyance of yet another scandal over obstruction of justice, meaning unless you have a scalding case, attempting to punish the abuse of power is the problem). The self-interest, as you note, was naked. And the tone was positively arrogant. From where did Mr. Cohen derive the authority to tell experienced prosecutors, without the benefit of the evidence they have, that they should not bring charges? There has been not one sign that Ftizgerald is a political hack out for cynical revenge. Let the guy finish the investigation and then make up your might on the merit. Nobody but nobody knows yet what he has, although the smoke signals indicate something significant.
    He did a great disservice to himself as a journalisht and to everyone who would like just a portion, just a small measure of accountability for these last few years of power abuse.

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