Saturday, August 29, 2009

Zorn: The Nadir of American Journalism

Weasel Zippers says, "Vomit Alert." Excuse me even for quoting this execrable emetic which the editors of the Chicago Tribune actually had the bad taste to publish:
If we'd had insatiable 24/7 cable news networks in July 1969, the accident on Chappaquiddick Island in which a passenger in a car driven by Sen. Edward Kennedy drowned would likely have dominated the national consciousness for months. . . .
Was it just as well that we didn't -- couldn't -- have a media feeding frenzy over Chappaquiddick in 1969? Would the nation have been better off if Kennedy had been shamed into private life? . . .
Or, as I believe, is the nation -- particularly our disabled and disadvantaged residents -- better off for the 40 years of service he was able to render after that terrible night?
And Mary Jo Kopechne still could not be reached for comment.

One hesitates to say that American journalism can't get any worse. We said that after Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair and yet, as if determined to prove us wrong, these elitist nincompoops who've hijacked the news business keep coming up with new crimes against their own profession.

Ed Driscoll has some thoughts, and links some honest commentary by Mark Steyn and a brutally factual American Spectator account of Chappaquiddick by Daniel Flynn.

Still,, even the antidote of such good journalism cannot quell the Zorn-induced nausea. I'm depressed by this evidence that there must not be one Old School journalist left in Chicago. An arrogant intellectual punk like Zorn? Mike Royko would have punched him out.

UPDATE: Not worthy of a Royko punch-out, but this paragraph by CNN's Elliott McLaughlin has a glaringly bad word choice:
In his national address, Kennedy said he was driving Kopechne to a ferry landing because she was tired. He denied "widely circulated suspicions of immoral conduct" and also refuted reports that he was "driving under the influence of liquor."
Kennedy "refuted" nothing. I understand McLaughlin's reluctance to use "denied" twice in the same sentence, but "refuted" means to disprove.

Multiple witnesses confirmed that Ted Kennedy had been drinking heavily all day that Saturday. Supplies for the regatta party -- attended by six married men and six single women, incidentally -- included three half-gallons of vodka, four fifths of scotch, two bottles of rum and two cases of beer. And then there is the rather telling circumstantial evidence that Ted drove off the freaking bridge.

On that night, Kennedy was drunk as a skunk, high as a kite, three sheets to the wind. He was hammered, wasted, soused, tanked, blotto, sloshed. He was, in a word, intoxicated.

I'd go so far as to say he was driving while intoxicated, except that rolling an Oldsmobile off a bridge is not really what most folks down home would call "driving."

Nothing he said in his subsequent speech "refuted" the fact that Teddy was drunk, nor will it ever.


  1. The was a documentary some years ago that purported to show that Kennedy was not actually in the car - but had covered up what was a more callous act; letting the girl he had taken to the party drive herself home drunk and unfamiliar with the roads. It explains the weirdness of the next day.

  2. McLaughlin also says "she drowned", which is flat-out false.
    But McLaughlin's article offers no way for me to post a correctin, or to contact him to alert him to his mistakes. Isn't that great?

  3. "I'm depressed by this evidence that there must not be one Old School journalist left in Chicago."

    There is one: John Kass, also at the Trib, and actually the guy who inherited Royko's featured column spot in the paper. He's had the goods on the Chicago/Cook County/Springfield Democratic machine axis for years, and he really hit his stride pointing out how much Obama owes to those people, in addition to the not-so-New Leftists like Ayers and Dohrn. Seriously, Stayce, spend a half an hour or so in Kass' archives. He's not Royko, but he's solid in his own way.

  4. Well, a lot of people today think that the word "refute" simply means "to deny." Just another example of how the world gets better every day. "Ex-President Carter refuted charges that he was the worst President of the 20th century."

  5. Anon. made the point I wanted to. Here's a quote from John Kass:
    On Wednesday, many on the political left -- including some made visibly uncomfortable with any talk of souls -- busily ignored Mary Jo, just as they've always ignored her. But they grabbed onto Camelot for one last ride, and used a dead Kennedy to push for nationalized health care.

    That line between history and drama for the Kennedys was never very thick, like the line between American realism and our yearning for royalty, and for comforting political myths.

    He's no Royko, as Anon writes, but he has written good stuff about 'The Chicago Outfit' as he calls it.


  6. So what matters are ideas, not actions or human lives. In fact, not even good ideas, just the "correct" agenda, and let the bodies stack up where they may.

    I mean if Teddy had immediately contacted the police and his political career had been ruined, there would have been no one to help the disabled or the disadvantaged

    At least I now understand the truth when the democrats say we should sacrifice for the greater good.