The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Much Like Professor Glenn Reynolds,
John Edwards Has a Law Degree

Posted on | May 13, 2012 | 32 Comments

Having been raked over the coals on Twitter by a young blogger upset by my curmudgeonly rant, now I find Instapundit categorically disparaging the entire notion of journalism as a profession:

It’s pathetic, and embarrassing. And yet they still pretend they belong to some sort of learned profession with special privileges and responsibilities, when really they’re just PR flacks without the honesty.

Look, if the disgrace of the WaPo discredits journalism in toto — which is what Professor Reynolds seems to be implying — then why doesn’t the disgrace of John Edwards discredit all lawyers? Why this apparently all-encompassing disparagement of journalism, a contempt vast enough to include even journalists who have helped to expose the WaPo’s disgrace?

UPDATE: OK, at least he linked me:

My response to Stacy McCain is the lack of counterexamples. I had a girlfriend from college who quit journalism for PR because, as she said, “it’s more ethical.” Indeed.

And to whom does the ex-girlfriend PR flack send her press releases?

Ah, journalists — who are actually paid less than flacks who write press releases. Once you figure this out, as a journalist, it’s pretty demoralizing, but if you can’t handle demoralization, don’t go into journalism. Try TV news, where even Shep Smith gets $8 million a year.

UPDATE II: Feeling somehow more demoralized than ever — guess I should’ve stuck with that forklift-driver job I had before disgracing myself by becoming a reporter — I was tempted to ask that readers hit my tip jar. Instead, I’ll ask that you go hit Joe Fein’s tip jar.

Don’t hate Joe just because he once let me crash on his sofa. It’s not his fault he’s forever tainted by this association with a journalist.



32 Responses to “Much Like Professor Glenn Reynolds,
John Edwards Has a Law Degree”

  1. Adjoran
    May 13th, 2012 @ 11:32 pm

    Yeah, it’s just the 95% of journalists and lawyers who ruin it for everybody else.

  2. Instapundit » Blog Archive » JENNIFER RUBIN: Not-So-Subtle Obama-Rooting In The Media. Related: WashPost Ombudsman Upholds R…
    May 13th, 2012 @ 11:45 pm

    […] My response to Stacy McCain is the lack of counterexamples. I had a girlfriend from college who quit journalism for PR because, as she said, “it’s […]

  3. Finrod Felagund
    May 13th, 2012 @ 11:55 pm

    It’s easier to dump on journalists than it is lawyers because from Clark Kent to Deep Throat,  journalism gets idealized.  How many lawyers not named Atticus Finch can you name that are idealized?

  4. Charles
    May 13th, 2012 @ 11:57 pm

    I think that Professor Elizabeth Warren would be the appropriate comparison.

  5. richard mcenroe
    May 13th, 2012 @ 11:59 pm

    Who said John Edwards DIDN’T discredit all lawyers, you scurrilous, inkstained wretch?

  6. Reliapundit
    May 14th, 2012 @ 12:43 am






  7. robertstacymccain
    May 14th, 2012 @ 12:44 am

    See, that’s what I mean: TV and movies portray journalism as some kind of “glamorous” profession, and so people — and I guess lawyers are people, technically — hate journalists as if it were some kind of elite profession.

    Worse, some people hate print journalists (who, on average, make less than cops or school teachers) because of bias on TV news, which is crazy, because print journalists generally despire those overpaid pretty people in TV news.

    Worst of all, to me, is the idea that people like Karl Rove — GOP operatives-turned-TV-talking-heads — are somehow more trustworthy and credible than reporters. Anybody who’s spent much time among GOP operatives (most especially including GOP operatives themselves) will tell you stories of treachery and betrayal by such characters. How is Rove presumed to be more trustworthy than, for example, Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace3?

  8. blake watson
    May 14th, 2012 @ 12:45 am

    Actually, John Edwards manages a twofer: Disgraces lawyers AND the journalists who covered for him (all, apparently, except The Enquirer).

  9. AnonymousDrivel
    May 14th, 2012 @ 1:12 am

    It’s much easier to pigeonhole people into a profession than to appreciate nuance. I’m suggesting that TV hosts and contributors with lots of face time are assumed to be “journalists” when they really aren’t. They’re visual columnists and newsreaders, a very different lot; but it’s much quicker to just throw around the term “journalist” and move on. That sort of indifference to terminology taints the profession more than it should. Nonetheless, it is still an industry deserving of considerable scorn given the sausage we consumers must digest.

    As to Rove, the less said the better. He’s a hack. He’s no journalist (and I’ve just created a strawman defining him as such). He’s a pitch man with a subtext of selling Rove, IncInk.

  10. Michael Kennedy
    May 14th, 2012 @ 1:42 am

    I don’t know of Rove stabbing clients in the back like Schmidt and Wallace did. Ask Sarah Palin.

  11. Thomas Hazlewood
    May 14th, 2012 @ 1:47 am

    If the ratio between reporters in the bag for Democrats was only 10-1, you might have reason to complain about Instapundit’s charge. But, you know it’s a lot worse than that, don’t you? One BAD apple can spoil the bunch. One GOOD apple won’t  restore the many bad ones…..

  12. Ben
    May 14th, 2012 @ 2:45 am

    The difference is that journalists actually lie to the public. They affirmatively perpetuate lies and coverup the truth so the public never finds out. This is a direct betrayal of their essential mission. And it happens commonly.

    Lawyers just do lawyering. Sure it’s destructive, but it’s at least true to itself.

    For, say, a defense attorney to reach journalist levels of behavior, he’d have to try to get his client convicted. A prosecutor would have to be in league with the drug gangs. A corporate lawyer would have to intentionally draw up unenforcible contracts and hand data over to competing firms.

  13. jwallin
    May 14th, 2012 @ 3:29 am

    why doesn’t the disgrace of John Edwards discredit all lawyers?

    Because everyone ALREADY despises lawyers. You can’t double despise them. What’s the point?

    Plus Edwards isn’t on trial for when he was a lawyer, (more’s the pity) he’s there because he’s a cheating bastard who tried to get elected to high office and got caught finagling donation money.

    Again a politician and everyone already despises them.

    Journalist’s used to have this aura of “good guy” about them. Made political in the last century by Woodward and Bernstein. That’s when it all went to hell as too many bright people decided, “they want to make a difference”. That difference was bringing down those who didn’t have the same opinions as them and they found they had to go into TV to do that effectively. (Newsprint is more local. Plus you can get hurt in some places if you cross the wrong people. I mean like disappeared hurt.)

    Poor Stacy. His pride and joy at being a journalist has been tarnished by others undeserving of the name.

    Sorry ’bout that. You’re doing good here though and maybe that ambassadorship is just around the corner.

  14. foobarista
    May 14th, 2012 @ 4:22 am

     Part of the problem is Rove is a practitioner, while most journalists have little experience in the fields they cover, so even though practitioners turned commentators may be “biased”, at least they did well at The Show, and have obvious street cred.

    To go outside politics and to a field I know something about, how many tech writers have ever written a line of code, founded a tech startup (successful or otherwise), or designed the smallest chip?  Whenever I read journalistic writeups on topics I know well (tech, software and data management in particular), there is nearly always at least one glaring error or bizarre assumption in each article (ie, Hadoop isn’t a database, contrary to 99% of the journalistic writeups I’ve seen on it).  This sort of thing causes me frequent pain in dealing with higher-ups who read gee-whiz articles on airplanes and wonder why I haven’t deployed this or that magic thing that apparently solves all our problems.

    Also, nearly everyone out in the world is fed up with “critics”, and accepts Teddy R’s critic-bashing implicitly.  Journalists are nearly always criticizing without contributing much in the way of understanding.  And the J-school students I knew in college made peace studies majors look like astrophysicists.

  15. LakeLevel The
    May 14th, 2012 @ 5:19 am

    Me thinks John Edwards discredited journalists more than lawyers.

  16. Ford Prefect
    May 14th, 2012 @ 5:33 am

    “they want to make a difference”. That difference was bringing down those who didn’t have the same opinions as them…

    This is exactly right.  The little leftists realized in the 70s that to “make a difference” no longer meant the Peace Corps but the Press Corps.  Once that notion gestated, “advocacy journalism” became the norm, with very few taking the path of shoe leather, investigative reporting.

    I think the better parallel than journalists/lawyers is journalists/teachers.

    The advantage teachers still have despite the evidence to the contrary, is that we WANT to believe most of them are still ethical. Whereas I don’t know of any desire in the public’s mind to want to believe that about journalists.  

    My advice to you Stacy, is to consider yourself a “reporter”, or an “investigative journalist”.  I don’t think those terms have been totally ruined by the Left.  

  17. Adjoran
    May 14th, 2012 @ 5:52 am

    At one time – up to about 20 years ago or so – there was a noticeable difference between the bias and ethics of print and broadcast journalists.  That line has been substantially blurred by now, and the exceptions are just that.

    If Raum and Milbank are less biased to the left and against Republicans than Gregory and Blitzer, it is only by a matter of degrees.  Where are those “straight-shooting” reporters at WaPo, NYT, LAT, the Globe, Chicago Tribune?  

  18. Bob(A.)
    May 14th, 2012 @ 6:20 am

    Glass house meet stone.  All generalizations are wrong, including this one.  Stacy,  I think you need a new pair of asbestos underware for those flames coming at you.  At any rate, what the professor really meant was “all journalists, except Robert Stacy McCain, … ”

    Keep on keeping on and don’t loose heart.  Losing that guy from West Virginia was bad enough ;->

  19. Ryan Murphy
    May 14th, 2012 @ 7:18 am

    As far as I know, ROve doesn’t pretend to be neutral.

  20. Bob Belvedere
    May 14th, 2012 @ 7:46 am

    Maybe I’m the odd one here [wouldn’t be the first time], but I’ve always considered reporters and journalists to be two separate groups.  Maybe it’s due to me being twelve in 1973 and watching Woodstein do their thing and people like Bob Novak do theirs.

    A reporter is, like Stacy, a Joe Friday ‘Just the facts m’am’ skilled professional, who practices a craft, like woodworking/carpentry, whereas a journalist thinks he’s an artiste much like the furniture designer who designs chairs that are uncomfortable to sit on, but look really cool.

    The former provides a much needed service, while the latter is easily dismissible as a luxury.

  21. Bob Belvedere
    May 14th, 2012 @ 7:48 am

    We need more scurrilous, ink-stained wretches and less crusading ‘reformers’ [God, I hate that word].

  22. MM
    May 14th, 2012 @ 7:59 am

    Very interesting question. I think that Edwards does discredit lawyers. Lawyers, however, do not have the access, power and visibility of the press to sway public opinion. At least, not without the aid of the press. As a member of the legal profession (don’t hate me), I expect most lawyers to obfuscate and downright lie in the representation of their clients. They should not lie to the court, but many do. Nevertheless, the guiding star is representation of the client and confidentiality, ideally in an ethical manner. Lawyers have no pretense of impartiality. The press, on the other hand, is supposed to be impartial and to zealously dig up and report the truth in as unbiased a manner as possible. Bias is supposed to remain on the editorial pages. The disgust that I think many feel is akin to finding out that the friend you thought was in your corner has been lying to you. What exists as journalism in the MSM today is often nothing more than disguised yellow journalism. That is why many of us read you – you actually engage in journalism.

  23. Grammy_pap2005
    May 14th, 2012 @ 8:16 am

    Stacy, have you ever heard the old adage “If you lay down with dogs, you wake up with fleas”? So, I have some flea shampoo the vet gave me for my dog, you want me to send you what I have left?

  24. SDN
    May 14th, 2012 @ 8:22 am

    Rove didn’t think that small; backstabbing the entire conservative movement, now that’s an achievement.

  25. Kenshu Ani
    May 14th, 2012 @ 8:43 am

    People keep forgetting that Journalists have had a long and glorious history of catering to the rich and powerful.  After the printing press was created and more of the populace became literate, papers were published with the backing of some rich and powerful figure.   Where do you think the phrase “yellow journalism” comes from?  Do you think that the rich and powerful figure would let the papers contain views that would go against his interest?  Hell no!  Would the papers forsake truth in order to sensationalize stories just to sell more papers?  Hell yes!

    Yes, the problem is the era of Woodward and Bernstein.  Not because of their reporting, but because at that time the vast majority of newspapers were already biased and they used the takedown of Nixon to promote the idea that newspapers were trustworthy.  Of course, they were aided by leftist educators that spent the next 40 years (My goodness!  has it already been that long?) using Watergate as tool to convince kids to trust the media.

    Lawyers on the other hand have never been trusted.  Therefore one doesn’t get the feeling of betrayal with a lawyer that one gets when discovering that journalists aren’t the noble people just out to get the truth behind the power.  That the people they were taught in school to respect were merely sensationalist driven political tools.  I think that sense of betrayal mixed with new media (who generally doesn’t hide their political views; and haven’t developed that since of trust) is why newspapers are failing.

  26. I Don’t Get No Respect « That Mr. G Guy's Blog
    May 14th, 2012 @ 9:31 am

    […] Stacy McCain takes umbrage at the Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds because he made a disparaging remark about journalists. Well, boo hoo, cry me a river, I don’t get no respect. […]

  27. Taxpayer1234
    May 14th, 2012 @ 9:49 am

    Just remember that The Bard singled out lawyers, not pamphleteers/town criers (journalists), for elimination. Wise man that Shakespeare.

  28. Deoxy
    May 14th, 2012 @ 9:51 am

    The public opinion of lawyers is justly abysmally low.  There are still a few good lawyers out there.

    The public opinion of journalists and reporters is just short of abysmally low, and justly so.  There are still a few good reporters and journalists out there.

    The public opinion of politicians is justly at LEAST abysmally low.  There… well, there might be a good politician out there… somewhere… maybe?  I hope so…

    The point is, it’s hard to be the good apple in barrel otherwise filled with bad apples – the public rightly views the barrel as worthless, because on the whole, it is.  Keep being the good apple – eventually, the rest might rot fully away, leaving you to be appreciated.

  29. ThePaganTemple
    May 14th, 2012 @ 9:58 am

    The world needs and will need lawyers more than it will ever need propagandists. That’s just the problem. Lawyers get away with a lot of their shit because they know they’re necessary (and of course because they know the law inside out). Propagandists get away with their shit because they THINK they’re necessary. Granted, they can and sometimes do provide a valuable service. But, much like a lawyer, for every one good thing they do there will be innumerable times they’ve done more than enough harm to make up for those few good things.

    What page of the Washington Post did the breaking story about Obama’s connection to Bill Ayers appear again?

    And the story was how many words again?

  30. Garym
    May 14th, 2012 @ 10:33 am

    All I know is both professions are costing us alot of money. Journolism, because of its left leaning propaganda, i.e. global warming, among other lies. Lawyers, with their frivolous lawsuits against everything man has ever invented, or serviced, or sold, driving insurance costs up to sky high levels. And don’t get me started on the combination of these two professions.
    Right now there are too few good apples, doing what is right.

  31. NukemHill
    May 14th, 2012 @ 11:01 am

    then why doesn’t thedisgrace of John Edwards discredit all lawyers?

    How do you discredit a profession with no credit to begin with?

  32. Dai Alanye
    May 14th, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

    Isn’t this a bit like arguing the relative ethical standards of burglars and muggers?