FishbowlDC’s latest post on The Daily Caller’s Michelle Fields brought about another round of smears and attacks from her Republican friends. I can understand the reflexive defense of someone on the right. But what I can’t understand is how someone, anyone, can, after taking a moment to think about the criticism of her “work” as a “journalist,” could reach the conclusion that she is some new, exotic kind of journalist.
There are a few questions to ask yourself.
1) What is her “beat”? What does Michelle cover? It’s haphazard, at best. She goes to where liberals are and records herself asking them questions designed to elicit an outcome she knows she’ll get and wants. That’s not journalism, that’s activism. Which is fine, activism has its place, but it’s not journalism.
2) What stories has she broken? Not every story has to be Watergate or Presidents hooking up with interns, but they also can’t be “I was pushed by police.” Journalists cover stories, they don’t manufacture them.
3) What is the difference between what she’s doing for The Daily Caller and what she did for Students for Liberty? One is a news outlet, the other is an activist organization. The answer is easy – there is zero difference. She is still doing activism, it just has an outlet that lends it credibility.
Michelle is an activist, plain and simple. And not even a particularly interesting one. Has she ever written any pieces? More words have been written about her on The Daily Caller (making herself the story) than have been written by her. At least “ambush journalist” Jason Mattera confronts people in power and asks them questions the mainstream media won’t, like Vice President Joe Biden. That’s actual journalism. Michelle doesn’t seem to have an interest in doing things like that.
Redstate’s Erick Erickson is a partisan and an activist, but he breaks news too. He’s not afraid of the truth, even if it makes someone on his side look less than favorably. He’s not quite Bob Novak, but he’s not that far away either. Speaking of Novak, he was a partisan, but he did actual journalism. He had sources, he made phone calls, he got original information, all the things that used to be called “leg work” by journalists. Any many still do it.
Try to find Slate’s Dave Weigel or Kerry Pickett of TWT and you’ll discover that they’re in the field. They’re in Iowa, New Hampshire, political events, talking with newsmakers and breaking news. Look for Michelle and she’s at an insignificant press conference asking people to make a donation to the IRS on her iPad. No one in their right mind would do that, and it wasn’t even original. How many op-ed pieces had been written at that point telling Warren Buffet he could write a check to the government while he was asking for higher taxes?
I don’t mind a hack, I don’t care for unoriginal hacks.
Michelle isn’t the only activist masquerading as a “journalist.” The most noted example of this the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein.
For those of you on the right who want to mindlessly claim FishbowlDC is a left-wing hack site, explain why this site broke the Weigel JournoList story and defended publishing private emails attacking the very conservatives he was covering by saying “this is serious for a blogger who covers conservatives. We have a vested interest in knowing and informing that a conservative beat journalist has a clear and angry opposition to the subject of his reporting.”, the story of Klein briefing Chiefs of Staff of Senate Democrats, called out Politico for ignoring Andrew Breitbart’s scoop in the Weinergate scandal, and many more.
The answer is you can’t.
This is a website dedicated to covering the media, not exposing media bias or taking sides in the media battle. If that’s what you want, there are plenty of sites out there that do just that, and do it well. This isn’t one of them.
There is no agenda here, as much as both sides would like there to be because it would help them dismiss it. It wasn’t “gossip” that Klein briefed the Democratic staffers — he eventually had to admit and explain it in his own newspaper.
That, and many other stories we’ve covered, is how we ended up with our criticizing of Fields. As much as some on the right would like to endear themselves to her for whatever reason, if you get your news from her you are not getting news at all. You are getting the opinions of 22-year-old activist who hasn’t been out of college a full year. That Brian Lamb would take an hour to get her “insights” can only be described as a quest for young fanboy viewers or insight into a new form of journalism some actually find appalling. And shame on Lamb for not asking Fields tougher, challenging questions about her “journalism” that many in the field are wondering.
BigGov Contributor Dan Riehl, who would like to see Michelle in a wet T-shirt contest (pretty sexist, if you ask me), tweeted out a passionate defense of Michelle’s “I get my news from Facebook” attitude from America Power Blog. It’s a glowing review of her CSPAN interview that barely touches the content of the interview and ignores the concept. Unsurprisingly, Michelle thanked them for “the honest post.”
Last night Michelle, ever the modest person, tweeted out that her interview was the 4th most watched interview on CSPAN. Well, videos of kittens and men getting hit in the crotch get a lot of views too. That doesn’t make them “journalists.”