No TV, so I was listening to a bit of the coverage of the James Comey hearing on KPCC just now and it’s not exactly a murderers’ row of famous journalists and analysts. Competition must be fierce and KPCC is down to the D listers. Anybody who is nobody is on TV or the radio or online somewhere experting away. What an exciting time to be a reporter. The press has never been this famous. I mean, all these journalists are rock stars now. They tweet like mad and write long pieces we all read the first paragraph of. They show up on TV daily. They have unnamed sources to die for. They pal around with movie stars and directors. Imagine the perks and the swag and the people who want to meet them, to touch them, to take a selfie with them. Living the reporter’s dream. A Pulitzer. A bestseller. George Clooney playing you in the movie. I confess I always wanted to be a political reporter. Alas I was born too late for Watergate and too early for Trump. It’s all in the timing. People loathed the press only a year ago, mistrusted them, assumed everything it said was a lie. That was then. Now it’s Beatlemania for reporters. I watch these guys on those giant CNN panels and I think to myself man, I bet they’re getting laid like crazy. Maybe not a second time but still, they’re getting laid like crazy.
One of the most infuriating things about press coverage of the presidential campaign this year is how the press avoids pressing the candidates on the issues. This is Trump driven, I think. His campaign has been virtually issueless for the most part–it is up to nine policy positions now (including “paying for the wall”), while Hillary has detailed positions on thirty nine. Romney had twenty five by this point. But as Trump does not discuss issues–he said the voters aren’t especially interested–the media doesn’t bother to bring them up. Why would they? Why risk his displeasure? Trump has them cowed. Instead, he gets live network coverage of a hotel opening, or a visit to his new golf course in Scotland. Those the press talks about. Sure they bitch about it, but do they ask him hard, policy questions? Uh uh. What is the point for a reporter to even try? You get out of line and he turns the crowd on you. Or banishes you from his rallies. Leaves them stuck on the tarmac. Maybe has an insolent reporter arrested. Worse yet, he’ll say mean things on Twitter. So instead you ask Hillary if she’s still having seizures.
The campaign press corps will be a little light on Pulitzers this year. But maybe TMZ is hiring.