Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Journalistic standards redux

-- by Dave

I somehow missed Glenn Greenwald's piece Saturday pointing out the utterly prone position of the Beltway press corps nowadays, quite adroitly. It sprung off some comments by Tucker Carlson, who had the gall to lay into a British journalist for publishing Samantha Power's "Hillary is a monster" remark.
CARLSON: What -- she wanted it off the record. Typically, the arrangement is if someone you're interviewing wants a quote off the record, you give it to them off the record. Why didn't you do that?

PEEV: Are you really that acquiescent in the United States? In the United Kingdom, journalists believe that on or off the record is a principle that's decided ahead of the interview.

Just for the record: It's a basic component of Reporting 101 that every person you talk to in the course of your work is On The Record, and that if they wish to speak Off then that needs to be arranged beforehand.

Obviously, Carlson is like so much of the pundit class, frankly: unaware of this because they have never been reporters. So perhaps his ignorance of basic journalistic standards is excusable in one sense, though his failure to meet them ultimately is not -- and neither is his continued employment on a major cable news network. That abysmal lack ought to be why his show is being cancelled, though I fully expect it is not.

In any event, Carlson went on:
CARLSON: Right. But I mean, since journalistic standards in Great Britain are so much dramatically lower than they are here, it's a little much being lectured on journalistic ethics by a reporter from the "Scotsman," but I wonder if you could just explain what you think the effect is on the relationship between the press and the powerful. People don't talk to you when you go out of your way to hurt them as you did in this piece.

That first line gave me a big, long, belly laugh.

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