Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Blowing A Jay

SURELY there are others of a certain age who recall the days when Australia was the last resort of the desperate, especially the stars who toured because they were no longer quite so lustrous anywhere else. Tony Hancock, Lennie Bruce, Judy Garland – they came here to snaffle quick cash from easily awed provincials and, by way of bonus encores, committed suicide, were arrested or followed the yellow brick road on all fours.

We generally get a healthier sort of celebrity visitor these days, but the rapturous receptions accorded those of dubious worth are still with us, as the schlock and awe that welcomed New York University’s Jay Rosen to our shores so recently demonstrated. Feted, inflated and fellated, the few days he spent in the company of adoring antipodean admirers must have done wonders for the media maven’s ego, which one gathers was no small thing to begin with. With so much gushing and fawning going on, there must have been no time for his groupies to consider what the journalism professor actually says and what he represents.

Start with this quote from his address, Why Political Coverage Is Broken, to the Newnews forum, the text faithfully reproduced at The Dumb:
As my friend Todd Gitlin once wrote, news coverage that treats politics as an insiders' game invites the public to become "cognoscenti of their own bamboozlement," which is strange.
Strange indeed, yes it is -- and not just for the quoted Gitlin’s wankerous turn of phrase, but for the source himself. Remember, Rosen was rabbiting on about journalists’ compulsion to see themselves as political insiders, rather than objective observers and independent critics. And then he cites his cobber Gitlin, another J-school academic, who represents the very worst of the insider inclinations Rosen claims to find so distressing.

Briefly, Gitlin was a leading light in something called JournOlist, a closed-shop listserve and online discussion group consisting entirely of left-leaning reporters and editors who, quietly and out of public view, co-ordinated their slant and coverage on the vital issues of the day, the chief of these being to elevate a community organizer to the White House and impugn their favoured candidate’s foes. Here is how Rosen’s paragon of independent, outside thought described that campaign to JournOlist's fellow members:
On the question of liberals coordinating, what the hell’s wrong with some critical mass of liberal bloggers & journalists saying the following among themselves:

McCain lies about his maverick status. Routinely, cavalierly, cynically. Palin lies about her maverick status. Ditto, ditto, ditto. McCain has a wretched temperament. McCain is a warmonger. Palin belongs to a crackpot church and feels warmly about a crackpot party that trashes America.

Repeat after me:

McCain lies about his maverick status. Routinely, cavalierly, cynically. Palin lies about her maverick status. Ditto, ditto, ditto. McCain has a wretched temperament. McCain is a warmonger. Palin belongs to a crackpot church and feels warmly about a crackpot party that trashes America.

These people are cynical. These people are taking you for a ride. These people are fakes. These people love Bush.

Again. And again. Vary the details. There are plenty. Somebody on the ‘list posted a strong list of McCain lies earlier today. Hammer it. Philosophize, as Nietzsche said, with a hammer.
I don’t know about any of you, but I’m not waiting for any coordination. Get on with it!

Hot Air has more, much more (follow the links to Daily Caller), not only about Gitlin, but also of the sustained, covert buzz to get the press gang banging on in unison about, amongst other things, Sarah Palin’s uterus.

Gitlin teaches at Columbia University, so rather than tar Rosen’s NYU with a presumptive brush, fairness demanded a little checking to see if standards of ethics and scholarship are as poor at his own institution. A little googling turned up a list of the faculty stars, and a further search on a name selected at almost at random*,  “Professor Pamela Newkirk”, produced the information that she has penned several well received books. One of them “Within The Veil:  Black Journalists, White Media”, which can be examined online via googlebooks.

By page 2 of Newkirk’s introduction it was apparent that things are even worse at NYU than at Columbia. Good Lord, a journalism professor who not only believes Hitler spelled his first name with a “ph” but apparently lacks any proof-reading colleagues sufficiently savvy to notice the error.

So things have not changed so much in Australia. The touring has-beens, never-weres and second-raters keep turning up, and our very own fourth- and fifth-raters still cannot tell the difference between cant and quality.

* Newkirk seemed an appropriate choice to investigate. The surname means “new church”,  and Rosen is very much one of the leading, self-anointed high priests in academic journalism’s debased temple.  

UPDATE: Did you miss the chance to rub up against Jay Rosen? Not to worry, here's a sample of what you missed.

It costs American parents about $40,000 a year to have this wisdom imparted to their kiddies at NYU. 

(HT: The holidaying Tim Blair for sending the video link)



  1. Speaking of tarnished travellers, Obama may visit us folks in November.

  2. The luvvies, with all their writers festivals, are engaged in intellectual onanism on a grand scale. And at our expense.

  3. I tried to listen to the Jay Rosen tape.
    No, really, I got to 2:49
    Now I want it back.
    Holy shite, I knew there were dumb arsed people around, but sitting up an evening and PAYING to see/listen/fellate this cretin is beyond the DNA level of stupidity.

  4. Well he convinced me. Or maybe I fell asleep and only thought he made sense. Either way it doesn't matter. He's an angry, unhappy man who is trying desperately to appear calm; a sure fire mix for a system failure at some point. I genuinely wish him well when it all goes pear shaped. I wouldn't wish the aftermath on anybody.

  5. I started looking at the video of Mr Rosen sipping his scotch at 12.30 on a Friday evening and pontificating on whether he understood what Fox news was all about and all the time the word that starts with "W" and rhymes with "Banker" kept creeping into my head. I also gave up at the 2 minute mark...

  6. I think it's only fair to give the guy a break; it's pretty clear from this video that he is unemployable in any field outside of academia. Or perhaps even in academia, if this footage was recorded sober...

  7. He drinks "MacCallen 12" and "Johnny Walker Black", the former with a chunk of ice: he's an NYC Irish pendant.