When the ‘Press’ Becomes the Star
By: Warner Todd Huston
– The New Republic Fawns Over David Gregory
I was wondering when the New Republic Magazine began to delve into comedy? I guess it’s all the rage with the comedic stylings of Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, and John Kerry, but I had always thought the New Republic fashioned itself a magazine of “serious” political commentary. After reading a fawning, nay slobberingly sycophantic, assessment of the career of David Gregory, NBC News’ White House correspondent, I have my doubts about TNRâ€™s claims to serious analysis. The title even seems a stab at humor, or at least wild hyperbole, as they absurdly seem to think that Gregory “Saved the Press Corps”. (Registration required for the New Republic)
I mean, this thing might have been written by the best The Simpsons writers or the inventive crew from the joke-shop operated by that redheaded rake, Conan O’Brien.
Sadly, I believe the magazine published this in all seriousness. I mean, imagine? They truly are positing that this ill tempered, easily provoked, admittedly “showboating”, loudmouth of a reporter is something to admire and emulate!
The TNR piece starts with what is probably in their minds a warm reminiscence of Gregory’s quirks. The piece recounts how Gregory badgers the waitstaff at restaurants, how he takes more space than is due him in airline overhead storage compartments and oddly draws attention to himself on his birthday by walking around with birthday balloons that others are sure he bought for himself. Itâ€™s all so petulant that it seems more like we are discussing some sort of jerk here and not a “star” reporter that we all should admire. As the TNR fawns on, one cannot help but get the feeling that the man lovingly referred to as a “showboat” by writer Zachary Roth is the kind of person that would be utterly insufferable to be around.
I mean, seriously? Is this supposed to endear a man to someone looking for a role model or someone to admire:
Nor does Gregory have any compunction about throwing a hissy fit in full view.
Who likes a self-centered, drama queen?
But, as we read on, we do find out why the New Republic loves Gregory. Itâ€™s not because he is a good reporter, not because he is an even-tempered, serious man, and not because he is kind to dogs and small children…
But, when members of the White House press corps put Gregory down–all off the record, of course–they don’t mention the prime cause of their jealousy…. During the early years of the Bush presidency, the White House press corps slumbered, allowing liars like Ari Fleischer to inveigle them into transcribing distortions about everything from weapons of mass destruction to tax cuts. But, over the last two years, without much fanfare, the White House press corps has regained its gumption, finally providing the intense journalistic scrutiny that the Bushies deserve. And it was Gregory–a real-life Stephen Colbert, but on the side of the angels–who led the revival.
Ah, there you have it! They are willing to put up with Gregory, this peacock of a man, this vain and grating person, just to assuage their symptoms of Bush Derangement Syndrome! It all makes sense at that level, doesn’t it?
Then they fall into rhapsodies over how Gregory somehow saved “American journalism” because he was willing to so easily reveal his distempered disposition in front of the cameras — cameras even HE says he is always seeking out to mug for. “I always know where the camera is,” they quote him as saying.
On and on they go waxing nostalgic over Gregory’s “showbiz” family and his supposed homage to Sam Donaldson with his affronting style. They even see some sort of significance in the fact that Gregory’s first story was the O.J. Simpson case because Gregory’s family are all in the entertainment biz.
This piece is, of course, a wonderful study in psychology. To read how the New Republic views the vaunted role of “journalist” in this piece is quite revealing. They obviously place themselves as higher than our elected officials and more important than all comers. To cement their higher moral standing, Roth resorts to untruths and lies to describe the Bush administration. These so-called â€œBush liesâ€ are also used to justify Gregory’s uncivil behavior. Of course, you see, it’s Bush’s “lies” that make Gregory and the rest of the news mediaâ€™s incivility perfectly acceptable.
We all know by now that the supposed “unmasking of Valarie Plame” was not done by Karl Rove or anyone directly in the White House, for instance. But here is the New Republic promulgating that myth still today in an effort to extol Gregoryâ€™s â€œvirtues.â€ And Gregory’s illegitimate badgering of the White House on Karl Rove’s “crime” is one of the things they praise him for.
…after it became clear that the White House had deceived the press about Karl Rove’s role in the unmasking of Valerie Plame. At a July press briefing, he asked McClellan, “Did Karl Rove commit a crime?” The press secretary’s evasive response spurred a spectacular Gregory tizzy: “You’re not saying anything,” he told McClellan. “[D]on’t you owe the American public a fuller explanation?” Watching Gregory proclaim himself the vox populi–and in such a deep voice–it’s hard not to think of Ron Burgundy. But the effect of the incident was to fatally undermine McClellan’s credibility and embolden the press corps. “When David began to be more openly aggressive, it broke the pattern that existed,” says Judy Keen of USA Today. “And that always sort of makes people wonder about their own performance.”
The truth, it appears, does not matter to Gregory, writer Roth, OR the New Republic, unfortunately. Badgering Bush is all that counts.
Then there is this line…
Gregory has spent the past two years staging similarly theatrical showdowns with the administration–many of them triggered by the White House inadvertently bruising his ego.
Again with the drama queen stuff? And again with the fact that the only reason TNR likes this foul man is because he attacks the Bush administration openly and repeatedly.
Is professionalism and self control so out of favor these days?
The piece drones on repeating Gregory’s many over the top reactions and fawns over his ostensible bravery, but when all is said and done, what we have here is far more a commentary on the poor state of affairs of journalism and the left’s general infestation of BDS that is so unhinging them than we do any legitimate analysis of the efficacy of Gregory’s style or expositions of the admirable work done by the subject of this buffoonish piece.
We certainly learn that Gregory is off-putting, but we really do not learn much about the true nature of his work. One can only wonder why all we get is personality and no substance until it is realized that substance is neither present nor necessary in David Gregory. Gregoryâ€™s supposed star power is all the New Republic can focus upon because there is nothing else there. And here is the worst part of this whole experience. It is also indicative of journalism as a whole. There just isnâ€™t any there there.
Once upon a time there was a day when serious reporters and writers of deep societal analysis were celebrated by the illiterti of the left. Now all they seem to need is a preening, clown that happens to be bold enough to stick pins in the administration and they proclaim him the next Edward R. Murrow.
Obviously, Gregory couldn’t hold Edward R. Murrow’s birthday balloons.