In 2009 America, someone else gets to dish out the best queries, someone who clearly has a more respected and understood stature in Western society. That someone is the Comedian. As anyone who watched David Letterman's late night beatdown of Ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich can attest to, late night comedian's are now America's shining new beacon of Journalistic integrity.
As St. Petersburg Times media critic Eric Deggans writes in his Wednesday blog:
"I've said this before about Jon Stewart; the power of non-journalists in these situations is that they don't have to pretend they don't have a point of view, and they can ask questions where the answer is almost beside the point. Letterman is essentially saying over and over to Blago, "I think you're a weasel," in a way that few traditional news anchors could manage without serious criticism."
To this, I only ask: why?
Why are David Letterman and Jon Stewart the only ones who get to have all the fun? Why can't a journalist answer back when the subject's answer seems to be a stock Public Relations parable?
Deep down, I feel like I know all the answers, just like Eric Deggans knows them. Journalists live in constant fear that what they say or write in every situation will be torn out of context, broken down into sound-byte form, and played 24 hours a day on FOXNews or MSNBC, painting them as a Conservative/Liberal/Communist/Terrorist partisan soldier. I know that can make journalists so afraid that they are hesitant even to call out someone so obviously insincere, cartoonish and downright wrong as Rod Blagojevich.
I understand that...but I am certainly not condoning it. I am not looking forward to being part of an industry that feels so victimized by the very media they use as a tool that they let comedians do their job better than they do. This is no slight against the David Lettermans and Jon Stewarts of the world; I think they are great, they just shouldn't be expected to do journalists' jobs because they are afraid to do their own.
Now that I have carefully climbed off my 80-foot soap-box, watch the clip of Letterman interviewing Blagojevich and try to tell me you wouldn't have loved to hear some of these questions asked by the actual journalists who have had the chance to confront "Blago."
And with that, I take my leave and head North for the Winter....or at least the weekend. Stay classy for now, Athens, your blogging hero will be back tomorrow for Grammy predictions.
One last bit: pick up today's edition of The Post and try to find the funniest and most appropriate name you will ever see for a sex offender. 10 Collective(ly) Unconscious points for whoever finds it first!