Balloon Juice's DougJ discusses Ta-Nehisi Coates' support of George Weigel and Jeffrey Goldberg.
Ta-Nehisi Coates has a thoughtful post about WeigelGate that is marred by this:It’s always a problem when you have to state your affection for someone you’re blogging about—but I have great affection for Jeff (Golberg). That’s the personal side—the side that makes this a very uncomfortable post. But professionally, I have great respect for him as a reporter.
I have read a lot of Jeff Goldberg articles in the New Yorker and the truth is, when he’s not writing about the Middle East, he’s fine. But he was also the Judy Miller of Iraq-Al Qaeda connections.
It’s disappointing to me that someone who generally shoots as straight as TNC would give Goldberg a pass on this. But that’s the way it is, people reach a certain level of status in the media and can’t keep themselves out of the great Atlantic/National Journal garden party in the sky, no matter how hard they try to avoid it. (To be perfectly frank, this is why I never liked the idea of Journolist in the first place, the idea that all these high-level bloggers/pundits might be coordinating their message somehow, or at least airing their grievances publicly rather than privately, is a bit sickening.)
Perhaps the defining characteristic of our age is how much time political and media elites spend giving each other hand jobs.
DougJ is perfectly correct about the seduction of money and public notoriety. But Coates didn't really try. Coates also said this:
As much as I like Dave Weigel, and as much as I respect his work, I think that there is a valid complaint to be made by conservatives about his beat at the Washington Post. For me, the way to approach this is to ask myself what I would think if e-mails like these came out, circa 2008, revealing that a reporter assigned to cover the netroots was actually contemptuous of some its leadership.
If I couldn't see any bias in 2008 I wouldn't care in 2010.
I think I'd have a problem with that. And I think a lot of other liberals would too.
I'd be delighted to see a little contempt from the "liberal" press. We might get fewer articles on how Iran is about to get a nuclear bomb, or how Obama's civil rights abuses don't exist, or how social security is broke. It is not the job of a journalist to be impartial--his job is to write impartially. To find out the facts and figure out what they mean to the best of his ability in the time allowed, and report what he found to others. We want a reporter that is skeptical, questioning, and doesn't trust the leadership. Anyone who is friends with the people he covers will be a lousy reporter.
Goldberg is a real piece of work, as everyone else has amply shown. His maudlin post about the death of Arab children under Israeli bombings was sickening. [Added--see also.] But he and Coates both work for the same employer, and Coates supports his co-workers no matter how offensive they are. McArdle and Black Panthers, Douthat and unwed parenting, now Goldberg 's offensive behavior. When you work for an information broker who sells access to its reporters to major corporations, you will end up compromising yourself.
We live in a great and terrible world, and are helpless before the forces of real power. But even if we can't change the economic disasters, the environmental disasters, and the humanitarian disasters of our world, we can control how we react to them. The time to take a stand for what is right has long passed. The decision has been made. Now there is only the embarrassing silence and averted eye, and the sly jubilation of the already corrupted.