Back to regularly scheduled snark. Taibbi discusses his parents who were both journalists:
My father had a saying: “The story’s the boss.” In the American context, if the facts tell you the Republicans were the primary villains in this or that disaster, you write that story. If the facts point more at Democrats, you go that way. If it turns out they’re both culpable, as was often the case for me across nearly ten years of investigating Wall Street and the causes of the 2008 crash for Rolling Stone, you write that. We’re not supposed to nudge facts one way or another. Our job is to call things as we see them and leave the rest up to you. We don’t do that now. The story is no longer the boss. Instead, we sell narrative, as part of a new business model that’s increasingly indifferent to fact.
Sorry, I don’t buy the then/now difference. As seen from the outside, journalism hasn’t changed much. Radio and TV were neutral on R/D from 1934 to 1984 because the Fairness Doctrine FORCED them to be neutral. They hated it, and happily reverted to all-D as soon as the Doctrine was repealed. Newspapers were never neutral. “Crusading reform papers” were always reforming the owner’s opponents, never reforming the owner and his buddies.
If Matt’s father genuinely saw the business as neutral, he was naive. My father wasn’t naive about academia, and tried to discuss the problems instead of perpetuating the myths. He was bashing tenure and publish/perish in 1959. He often discussed the value of experiential training over memorization. Later he told how administrations use “politics” as a public reason for firing profs when the real reason was just personal. The department head can’t say “I don’t like this guy” but he can write a report on “Communism” or “Islamic terrorism” or “January6ViolentInsurrectionism” according to current fashion.