Saturday, May 3, 2008


One of the greatest privileges accorded to the press is access. A reporter's credentials are an essential tool of his trade. A press pass grants the reporter free access to events that others pay to attend, and allows him access to people and places who would be off-limits otherwise.

Even the dumbest rookie reporter knows that the privileges his press pass grants him ought never to be abused. Imagine, then, the collective wrath of that the professional journalism establishment would rain down on a partisan political hack who obtained press access in order to engage in a cheap campaign stunt.

That's what happened this week when Marty Parrish -- a former campaign aide to Sen. Joe Biden and now an avowed Obama supporter -- signed in as a reporter for Huffington Post to gain access to a John McCain townhall event, and then disrupted the event in Iowa by asking the candidate if he had called his wife a "cunt."

(The question was based on a claim in a book by Democratic operative Cliff Schecter, who claims to have heard about the alleged 1992 incident from "three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity." The sourcing raises obvious questions: Why would three reporters have failed to report such an incident? Why would these reporters insist on anonymity 16 years later? Since no such reporter or anyone else has come forward as witness to this alleged incident -- which supposedly occurred in the presence of two McCain campaign staffers -- it's hard to resist the conclusion that Schecter is lying.)

Huffington Post contributor Keith Dinsmore apparently colluded with Parrish in the campaign stunt -- they both signed in on the same media sign-in sheet, and Dinsmore provided HuffPo with video of Parrish's disruption. Dinsmore then filed an account of the incident that dishonestly omits the fact that Parrish signed in on the media list as a HuffPo contributor.

Such behavior is not journalism, it's political activism -- and it's activism of the most childish and idiotic variety.

It would be perfectly legitimate for a journalist at a press conference to ask McCain to confirm or deny Schecter's claim, but Parrish wasn't at a press conference. Parrish did not identify himself as a journalist when he raised his hand during the townhall event, and he dishonestly began his question by pretending to inquire about health care policy. Parrish was obviously seeking to disrupt the townhall event by using the shock value of the word "cunt."

Online news organizations fought for years to gain the kind of access accorded to journalists from traditional media outfits. The irresponsible behavior of Parrish and the dishonest "journalism" of Dinsmore not only discredit HuffPo as an institution, but undermine the credibility of online media in general.

Both Michelle Malkin and Allahpundit blogged about this stunt, but surprisingly, neither of them raised the issue of how these HuffPo clowns damaged the reputation of online media. And, just as surprisingly, the collective wrath of the professional journalism has not rained down on Parrish and Dinsmore, either.

1 comment:

  1. "Why would three reporters have failed to report such an incident? Why would these reporters insist on anonymity 16 years later?"

    Well, I don't have any problem understanding your first question. Where would the story be filed, in Lifestyle? It's not infrequent that nasty little remarks, which may give insight into a person's personality, are not reported in the media. What planet are you living on? As for the second, well it could have something to do with access, which you note in the piece. Again, especially today, hordes of journalists are holding their punches for the golden access.