- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pressing issues

Some journalists are committing the ultimate press sin: They think they are as important — or more important — than their own news stories.

The media elite is getting hoity-toity indeed.

Some of it relates to coverage. During the presidential election, for example, a far greater percentage of campaign stories — three-fourths of them, in fact — provided insider analyses and horse-race speculation rather than unvarnished information on policy or issues, even though the public clamored for substance and facts. The all-important personal opinion was dominant.

And why was that? Some media analysts speculated that the press as a whole had simply become bored with the election and preferred to amuse themselves and their cronies with fancy footwork and weighty opinion.

Then there’s the feedback frenzy. Fame has become a press credential. Sure, the compleat modern journalist must be an agile talking head to stay competitive, create buzz and burnish his “brand.” But are too many Googling themselves or racing to the blogs to see if they’ve been cited as the oracle du jour?

Maybe.

And with this new sense of self is a new sense of image. The press appears to have traded an appealing straightforward, down-to-earth demeanor for something that is petty, prissy, snippy or celebrity-driven.

“It amazes me how so many journalists have come to identify with the upper class, feeling that private school is essential for their kids,” says Charlie Peters, founding editor of the Washington Monthly.

“And have you noticed how many of the male journalists you see on television are wearing custom-made suits? It used to be that every suit in the newsroom was right off the rack, and usually from a store of absolutely no snob value. As for the female television reporters, I would suggest that more than a few of them who made fun of Sarah Palin’s wardrobe from Saks Fifth Avenue and Nieman Marcus are wearing similar labels.”

Days of yore

The United States and Britain signed preliminary peace articles in Paris, ending the Revolutionary War 226 years ago today.

Happy birthday today to talk-radio stalwart G. Gordon Liddy, born in Hoboken, N.J., in 1930.

And a big “aw-w-w” for the merging of two major political tribes: Julie Nixon and David Eisenhower announced their engagement on this day in 1967. The pair met at the 1956 Republican National Convention, were married by the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale in 1968 and are still married. Dec. 22, in fact, will be their 40th anniversary.

Mrs. Eisenhower made news earlier this year by contributing to Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign.

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