January 8, 2009

JTP Now JTR [Dan Collins]

Roger Simon at something called Pajamas Media:

By now many of you have heard that Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher is leaving for Israel tomorrow to be a war correspondent for Pajamas TV.  This has created quite a brouhaha in the media – cable television, newspapers, wire services, etc.  Everyone from CNN to gawker.com has something to say about Joe heading for the Middle East.  He will appear on Fox and Friends tomorrow morning before his departure.

To be honest, some (maybe much) of this reportage is pretty snotty. Nora O’Donnell of MSNBC – herself a MA in international relations, lahdeedah – fairly frothed at the mouth at the prospect of the unqualified Joe having the temerity to report news in a foreign land. Those hipoisie over at Gawker weren’t too charitable either.

Evidently, a lot of people are annoyed that Joe’s fifteen Warhol minutes aren’t quite over yet.  Or perhaps they’re threatened that a common man can be a reporter simply by asking common sense questions – no Columbia J-school degree required. (Hemingway didn’t have one.  He didn’t even go to college, as I recall.) But the larger question is the role of expertise in general.  Of course, experts are valuable, but so are those who ask the seemingly too obvious questions of the supposedly uninformed – dumb questions that can end up having more value for the public than all the experts combined. Sometimes, anyway.

Does Wurzelbacher even have a license to report?  Given that some people who ought to be in jail–such as, say, Eliot Spitzer–have been given columns at major lefty intarweb forums, some people might be best served by not whinging.

Speaking of which, Dan Froomkin responds to an interview with Google CEO Eric Schmidt in which Schmidt talks about ways in which Google might help the newspaper industry.  One of his suggestions is this:

* Create a journalist-mediated repository of citizen journalism. Hire professional journalists to “accredit” excellent citizen journalism and train citizen journalists.

This is problematic, to say the least.  Does he envision something like the French Academy?  How will such a body ensure that its political bias doesn’t interfere with its decisions on whom to accredit?

Take his suggestions on the whole, and then consider: what would the left feel about such an arrangement if it were conducted under the auspices of Rupert Murdoch?  Either way would be, in my view, preferable to a government stake in media ownership (something that ought to be resisted with more passion than mandatory (Christian) prayer in public schools), but shouldn’t such suggestions evoke concerns?

Posted by Dan Collins @ 8:26am

Comments (73)

  1. He’s more qualified to be a correspondent than Caroline Kennedy is to be a Senator, and than thor, parsnip and Sematicleo are to be taking up space on the planet.

  2. At a time when almost everyone on cable news is considered a “journalist” – despite the fact that some don’t have degrees in journalism (not my requirement but theirs), many are merely commentators, and few ask anything but softball questions (even “hard-hitting” questions are often merely regurgitated pablum that show no critical thinking skills) – it seems particularly ludicrous to question Joe’s “credentials.” Here’s a thought – do your job. Then there wouldn’t be a need to call an “amateur” in to do it for you.

  3. And that f#cker wouldn’t even hire Jeff to do Denver’s DNC.

    Long walk, short pier.

  4. With stuff like this occurring, we’ll never get Jeff back.

    But, I’m not hand-wringing that someone who didn’t graduate from J-school is given the job of “reporter.” In a time long ago, I graduated with a degree in journalism.

  5. Good luck, Joe.

  6. Joe is just as qualified as anyone who can ask questions and report the answers. Will he ask pertinent questions? And, will the public care to read his reportage? It remains to be seen…

    It occurs to me that this is just a cheap publicity stunt by PJM and a no-brainer change of venue for Joe. I mean, I’m sure that hey’re paying him more than the roughly 40k/yr he’s making as a plumber in Ohio…

    All that said, I am of the same mindset as serr8d, and have been boycotting PJM as much as possible, that is except for direct links to a piece at their site, in protest of them treating Jeff G so shabbily! I don’t know if he’d want to go there, but I think Jeff would pose more scintillating questions and a more interesting overall tone than JTP. But who knows? JTP could be a real modern day Murrow!

  7. I forgot to note that I don’t want the Google crew to have any role in certifying or selcting journalists. They have already shown their prediliction for censoring ideas they don’t agree with, the antithesis of journalistic ethics, and also exhibit a pay-for-play outlook with respect to the ranking of search query hits…

    In short, they are corrupt, manipulative, conniving, businessmen…

    And the MSM tells us that all businessmen are eeeeeeevil!, right?

  8. But a Google monopoly would be the GOOD kind of monopoly, run by the Right-Thinking individuals who can control the narrative for the greater good.

    I think I just threw up a bit in my mouth.

  9. OT, but important…

    All the PWers need to show up and show out! for the 2008 weblog awards. Just go to this site:


    And vote for our site. Right now Pandagon has twice as many votes!; so let’s get cracking…

    You can vote once every 24 hours from each computer you have access to. Voting will be open through the 13th. Let’s give Jeff G a nice happy new year! present from all of us, and show those PJM guys what for!

    That is all,
    Best Wishes

  10. You’re right Techie; kinda like the MSM has been for years…

    It makes me ill too…

  11. Not really a worthy cause there Bob, no disrespect intended. Personally I could care less about such stuff. I know JeffG doesn’t go for it at all. Others can speak for themselves.

  12. Oh, and if you unplug your DSL or cable modem for a short period, you can vote…again. That only works for non-permanent ISP’s, though (not for work). Clearing cookies doesn’t matter; they are tracking by ISP.

  13. Ben Bradlee didn’t have a journalism degree.

    Walter Lipmann didn’t have a journalism degree.

    H. L Menken took one night course on how to write copy for newspapers.
    No journalism degree.

    Theodore White didn’t have a journalism degree.

    Walter Winchell didn’t have a journalism degree.

    Mark Twain didn’t have a journalism degree.

    Walter Cronkite didn’t have a journalism degree.

  14. Hmmm.

    If I were JtP, or JtR, I’d do it just to piss off every “journalist” on the planet.

  15. Bob, serr8d’s demonstration as to how easily these sorts of things can be gamed works to their discredit or at least tends to show how silly they are. I don’t know whether that was your intent serr8d, but that’s kinda how it comes off.

  16. Take it any way you like, Sdferr. Game’s on, whether you play or not.

  17. They don’t need to teach, they need to edit. Get some really top-notch editors to ride herd on the “citizen-journalists”, hard-nosed boyos with iron fists. Not for content, but for style, spelling, format etc. Be brutal, and don’t be afraid to reject crap just because it’s from some big name.

  18. Sdferr,
    I wasn’t encouraging any dishonourable methods; simply reminding all of the PW denizens to vote for this blog and laying out the rules as I read them on the site. I probably should have used the word “any” instead of “each” though, it does seem suggestive of chicanery…

    I just thought that in light of Jeff’s several laments during the past year about his blog going down, so to speak, that it might do him good to win an award among his peers…

    But I’m a newcomer during the last year, and you’ve known Jeff a lot longer…

    Best Wishes

  19. Thanks Bob. I’ll dig back into the archive and find a link for you Bob wherein JeffG lays out his thoughts on these polls. In the meantime I’d guess he’d prefer we all conduct ourselves here with a modicum more dignity, civility, and thoughtfulness etc., (as you have done in this exchange) than that we dash off to vote pw in an otherwise meaningless popularity poll. brb with that link.

  20. Here you go.

  21. From The 40 Most Obnoxious Quotes of 2008.

    “8) “F*** God D*mned Joe the God D*mned Motherf*cking plumber! I want Motherf*cking Joe the plumber dead.” — Liberal talk show host Charles Karel Bouley on the air.”

  22. Hey, you know who else didn’t have a journalism degree?

    Jayson Blair.

  23. I see, said the blind man…

    I stand corrected; somehow I forgot or missed that sentiment…

    Thanks for the course correction!

    Best Wishes

  24. I have never quite understood the need for a journalism degree in order to report on facts. I spent a couple of years as a journalism major, until I realized that I had gotten a better education as a writer from my 11th grade honors creative writing class in high school than I was getting in college journalism classes. I changed majors.

    War reporting has always been the purview of the brave, the risk takers, the determined. None of those descriptions come to mind when thinking about the whiners in our media today. Some of the best war reporting in the last decade has been from our Milbloggers and correspondents like Ollie North, whose War Stories is always first rate.

    Reporters there to report for the sake of providing information are far superior to our MSM-types who seem to always be looking for more column inches, a spot on some cable show, or a bigger paycheck and personal glory. MSM reporters and those Columbia J-schoolers can’t report accurately when they are afraid to piss people off with a too pointed question or follow-up, people who might be in a position to offer them their next job. David Brinkley once said to forget the degree in journalism and get a degree in history if you want to be a really effective chronicler of events. Unfortunately, our elite journalists today seem to have no sense of history or context, just like our newly elected President.

  25. As a follow-up, I would make the same complaint about bloggers. We have seem some excellent bloggers go to hell in handbasket as soon as they catch the attention of traditional media. Suddenly those of independence of thought and opinion without fear of an organization dictating outcome become Stepford bloggers. I would name names, but I don’t want to embarrass anyone by saying they’ve become second-rate, but I’m sure everyone here could name at least a few bloggers they’ve followed in the last several years who has sold out.

  26. hey i dont have a journalism degree–which is why Ive had a meaningful and effective career. I should have won a pulitzer in 07, but thats too inside baseball for here.

    more importantly, i agree with the threads that argue against Froomkin’s well-meaning suggestion, except to the point that there are a lot of good reporters who could help bloggers along, in terms of imparting the essentials of good document work, making effective–and understandable–arguments, etc…

    Truth be told, if reporters and bloggers really wanted to do good and effective blogging on things that mattered, they’d work really closely with accountants (the more forensic, the better) and lawyers.

    but Roger Simon’s sending Joe the Plumber to Gaza is about right where you’d expect Pajamas Media to be—silly and stunt-like. He won’t do appreciably worse than the pro-Hamas hacks in Gaza, but make no mistake, this is more PT Barnum than Ben Bradlee. At one point, PJM, per my convos with Glenn R., had some really noble fill-in-the-gaps aspirations in terms of providing immediate, grass roots reporting in the world’s trouble spots.

    If they gave a shit, they’d have sent Reul Marc Gerecht.

  27. My second go at college I was a freshly divorced, pissed at the whole world hard core lefty hell bent on setting things right, and everybody knows that is the perfect formula for journalism school. My first day in Intro to Journalism the instructor opened up his lecture with “the most important job of any newspaper, magazine, etc. is to sell advertising”. I was outraged he would dare ask me to commercialize my righteousness, so I got up, walked out, and changed to a poli sci major with minors in history and tech writing.

    One of my smarter moves, even if it was for the wrong reason.

  28. Well B Moe, your professor was correct. Without advertising, there is no newspaper, no TV news, etc. I worked in the advertising dept. of a major daily in this country and we were treated as 2nd class citizens. Our dept. of over 300 was isolated in a part of the building that none outside of advertising would ever deign to enter. We were never given any perks, nor any recognition as valuable assets to the paper, whereas those in news were getting to go on company paid junkets, attend all kinds of formal events around town at company expense, and got their mileage and meals paid for as well. For the most part, the reporters and editorial staff considered us the trailer trash of the business. We had to console ourselves with the knowledge that we were the highest paid non-management employees of the company, nearly twice what reporters were making. And with the knowledge that if we all stayed home the newspaper would go out of business and those elitists and stuck-up reporters would be drawing welfare.

    When a company-wide survey was done, it came as quite a shock for both management and the news dept. to find out that there were more advanced degrees in the advertising dept. than in the news dept., most however, not working in their degree specialty because advertising paid better.

  29. Oh, and God forbid we should happen to enter an elevator where there were news/editorial staff. They would move as far away from us as possible, afraid to catch cooties or something.

  30. The MSM never questioned Sean Penn playing reporter in Iraq and Iran. Go figure.

  31. Reporting requires the basic skills that can be learned in high school. Journalism degrees from major universities doesn’t change that or add to the quality of the reporting. What those degrees do is add to the quality of the reporter’s life. With the advanced degree he can demand higher wages and better benefits, for what at tis basic and most common level is high-school work.

  32. The pre-BDS Andrew Sullivan had a good observation, that it simply isn’t that hard to be a journalist. All you need is a telephone and a conscience.

  33. Hey Sanity, didn’t you post the “Takes money to spend money” piece? If so, somehow it’s gotten attributed to JeffG.

  34. Well B Moe, your professor was correct.

    Absolutely. But I was a Crusader for Truth and Justice and would have none of it. It is also a large part of the reason I laugh at folks who deny a leftist bent to the media, anyone who spent any time anywhere near a J School knows damn well there is.

  35. Sdferr,

    Huh! And I notice that the link to the article is gone, too. Have we got network cooties under the hood?

  36. Comment by Mikey NTH on 1/8 @ 2:19 pm #

    Reporting requires the basic skills that can be learned in high school. Journalism degrees from major universities doesn’t change that or add to the quality of the reporting. What those degrees do is add to the quality of the reporter’s life. With the advanced degree he can demand higher wages and better benefits, for what at tis basic and most common level is high-school work.

    I grant the the mud bunker alternate reality theory-of-the-day.

  37. I dunno TSI, but I did notice Charlie (in Colorado) giving Jeff the what-the-fuck treatment down at the tail of the comments. I dropped a link there that you might be interested in too.

  38. I second mcgruder’s comment. It’s a stunt. A joke. That, and the way they did Jeff, tells me they’re a joke.

  39. They should call the program Real Incredible Hebrews!

  40. “If they gave a shit, they’d have sent Reul Marc Gerecht.”

    Hmmmm. I think you probably have that right. ‘Stunts’ can help a bit, but only so far.

  41. #40 Maj. John:

    Stunts get atention, which PJM got from the news networks. And they will get more attention as these networks rabidly follow Joe around. They are using these networks to promote themselves for very little up-front cost, which is a nice piece of ju-jitsu.

    Heh indeed!

  42. A follow-up. If the stunt is to have any legs the idea should be to have Joe go with a team to make sure that what he does, where he goes, who talks to, will have questions ready for him to ask that will get airtime. “Common-sense American asks questions that viewers are thinking, and gets responses that have viewers going Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot?”

    PJM has the hook in; whether it can be set before anyone realizes it is the next thing to see – stay tuned to find out.

  43. “I mean, I’m sure that hey’re paying him more than the roughly 40k/yr he’s making as a plumber in Ohio…”

    I thought he was working hawking his website and book, and also digital tv converter kits (not his). Not plumbing.

    Wonder if pjtv will have him report for longer than 15 minutes.

  44. Hemingway didn’t have a degree, but he spent many years perfecting his writing and reporting. Does anyone know of any interest by Joe in reporting or politics or the Middle East before now?

    He’s no Hemingway.

  45. Can you name me one person in TV news at the moment who is a Hemingway, David?

    Anyone even close?

  46. #43 meya:

    If they do this right they will. ‘Regular American Joe (or Sam) asks questions none of the perfumed princes of the media will ask.’

    It’s a classic American tale, real ‘John Q. Public’. And that still has power.*

    *Roger L. Simon has been a scriptwriter; think he doesn’t know what elements will grab the fancy of the public?

    “Propaganda that looks like propaganda is third rate propaganda.”
    – Sydney Rogerson, British propagandist WWII

  47. It will be all right, meya, the Jews haven’t crucified a Christian in, what? Almost two thousand years.

  48. #47 meya:

    That’s good; he states that he thinks it is important and will do his work no matter what comes; he will ‘speak truth to power’. Do you see like I do the American mythos of ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’ being invoked?

    Start playing The Fanfare for the Common Man.

    Populism in service of truth is a good theme to play for Americans. The old myths of Robin Hood, of King Arthur, of Roland were Americanized in the Cowboy, the Lone Ranger. Our enemies in the Islamofascist/Jihadist movement and their allies on the far left don’t have the grasp on the American imagination (and the imaginations of others) that those images do. They don’t have a tenth of the ‘dream machine’ we have built. If that ‘dream machine’ ever gets set on supporting the west, those others won’t have a chance.

  49. Maybe Jeff Gannon can give Joe some tips?

  50. “It will be all right, meya, the Jews haven’t crucified a Christian in, what?”

    I hear hamas does crucifixions these days.

  51. The old myths of Robin Hood, of King Arthur, of Roland were Americanized in the Cowboy

    Damn straight, they were.

  52. #52 Cowboy:

    You got it. Never underestimate the power of myth. That is what the Jihadic types understand, and what they appeal to.

    Why else do you think that the Jihadic allies on the left spend so much time trying to tear down American myths?

  53. Other than the fact that they are Euro-worshipping, elitist-fellating, anti-western civ defeatist assholes?

  54. #54 Celtic Dragon:

    Because tearing down your opponent’s myths destroys his confidence, his belief that he is right, his will. Destroy that and your opponent will not resist, even though he is stronger. Thick walls, iron-bound gates, fine weaponry are nothing if no one takes up those arms and defends that wall or that gate.

    Never underestimate the power of myth.

  55. Wouldn’t Joe t. Plumber be better at investigative journalism? After all, he has experience at dealing with leaks.

    [Rimshot. Thud. Etc.]

  56. Joe simply has to go to Israel to find out if Obama’s election really did kill Israel, lol.
    Riddickulous to send him there.
    GW just proved the mythos of the Noble Commoner, the Man of the People, is dead.
    The yeoman farmers and slines are simply unfit to lead– they aren’t bright enough.
    Promote a philosopher king or stay powerless for 40 years.
    Your choice ;)

  57. “Never underestimate the power of myth.” Right on.
    In Michener’s “The Source,” Israeli guerillas mistook Mighty Mouse for Mickey Mouse. Given the current US stance, they may have been right.

    But you know what? Superman is Jewish. You can look it up.
    He’s from Cleveland.

  58. Another of the Unwelcomed chimes in with her bile.

    What part of “don’t come back here” don’t they understand?

  59. They just can’t quit us, Rob.

  60. I’d rather see the MSM start labelling their stuff:

    Official, professional news brought to you by accredited professional reporters who stand behind their reporting.

    It would have all the meaning of those tags on upholstery that say “do not remove.” They’ve destroyed any semblance of credibility. At best we get some facts, which need to be verified, fortified with a heavy dose of whatever the reporter believes, or wants you to believe.

    Despite the speed of modern communications, it seems that all the facts about anything controversial take days to come out. Most minds are already made up at that point.

  61. They just can’t quit us, Rob.

    If they’re going to imitate a Gyllenhall movie, why can’t it be “Donnie Darko”?

  62. GW just proved the mythos of the Noble Commoner, the Man of the People, is dead….Promote a philosopher king or stay powerless for 40 years.

    How unaware of the facts can one person be?

  63. How unaware of the facts can one person be?

    How unaware of the foundations of this country can a self-declared intelligent person be?

  64. You know,I just heard on the radio Ann Coulter [insert shrieks of outrage here] mention that conservatives LOVE to debate – it’s what they do to challenge their ideas. Such a bell went off in my head, because here that is displayed to such a degree. The problem lies in the fact that the left (as illustrated by our many trolls) cannot/will not/do not debate ideas. #57 is a perfect example. It’s nothing but an asinine assertion.

    When was the last time any of you can remember when we actually had a liberal debating ideas? Not just stupid snark?

  65. Ann Coulter knows about who does and doesn’t want debate. National review censored her because it couldn’t handle her ‘debate.’ Her ‘ideas.’

  66. This isn’t about Ann Coulter, despite the fact that she made the statement. But, in response, 1) I don’t think Coulter was a proper fit for the magazine to begin with and/ but 2) their response was an over-reaction.

    But, you really proved my point, Meya, by merely snarking. Can you point to ONE discussion here of an interesting back and forth between liberal and conservative views?

    I’m sure it has happened somewhere in the annals of PW, but it’s been a long time.

  67. “But, in response, 1) I don’t think Coulter was a proper fit for the magazine to begin with and/ but 2) their response was an over-reaction. ”

    From what I hear, they just didn’t run a shitty column. Over-reaction? Debates of ideas? Here we go.


    “Can you point to ONE discussion here of an interesting back and forth between liberal and conservative views? ”

    We’re having an interesting discussion about conservatives and debate right now. Maybe someone will show up and call us racist?

  68. Well, we have Jonah’s version of the story, so what? As I wrote, I don’t think she was a good fit for NR, and I’ve been a subscriber since (about) 1990.

    It really is irrelevant, because that wasn’t a debate between left and right, but more of a pissing contest between two on the right. It certainly wasn’t about issues or ideas.

    If you want to talk about NR, it has a history of devoting entire issues to ONE issue, bringing in divergent POV. Left and right.

  69. “It really is irrelevant, because that wasn’t a debate between left and right, but more of a pissing contest between two on the right. It certainly wasn’t about issues or ideas.”

    There’s idea there. Here’s them talking about the first amendment:

    “Ann — a self-described “constitutional lawyer” — volunteered on Politically Incorrect that our “censoring” of her column was tantamount to “repealing the First Amendment.” Apparently, in Ann’s mind, she constitutes the thin blonde line between freedom and tyranny, and so any editorial decision she dislikes must be a travesty.”

    But you’re right. This is an squabble within the right. Certainly when debating the treasonous left, Ann will be more likely to stick to ideas. Since she loves debate.

  70. You just can’t help but prove Carin right, can you?

  71. “You just can’t help but prove Carin right, can you?”

    These are some great ideas we’ve got here.

  72. We’re all ears, Jenkins.