Posted by: evanmcarlson | July 21, 2009

Daily Show Covers Sanford Scandal

Sadly it is not online yet, but over the next couple days you should try to check out the Daily Show from July 20th. The show was full of issues related to our recent classes and featured an interview with NBC anchor, Brian Williams. Aside from the laughs there were some interesting insights into the scandal surrounding the disappearance of South Carolina Mark Sanford and his subsequent admittion of an affair. Also, during the Williams interview, Stewart touches upon a couple of interesting points regarding Walter Cronkite and his opinion of today’s media.

Firstly to the Sanford scandal. Aside from the obvious scandal regarding Gov. Sanford’s extramarital activities, there is another scandal brewing regarding the media’s attempts to contact Sanford for an interview. According to emails first discovered by The State, and then picked up by TalkingPointsMemo, reporters offered Sanford safe havens to provide his side of the story. In particular, TalkingPointsMemo shows emails from the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times. (An interesting side note, apparently Steven Colbert also courted Sanford for an interview, although from what I saw of the Daily Show, they failed to mention that.)

During the interview, Brian Williams said that the business is incredibly competitive and that there are journalists who would do just about anything for “the get.” He also made a point to mention that NBC has a strict “no preconditions policy” with their interviews so reporters at his network would not be tempted to make such offers.

This illustrates another danger that corporate media poses to the veracity of reporting and – by extension – our democracy. Reporters eager to get the scoop on their competitors will bend and sometimes break the rules and in doing so they are rewarded by their organization. Our ability to make informed decisions regarding the quality of the work our elected officials are doing is hurt in journalists hunt for the scoop.

When Isee or read major interviews, I think that I will now look more closely at what has been asked and what the reporter fails to ask.

The discussion with Brian Williams also touched on an interesting question regarding the quality of journalism in the era of 24 hour news. Williams talks about how Walter Cronkite was not impressed with 24 hour news because it prevented reporters from taking a breath. Instead of getting third confirmation on a story, reporters are settling for two. In short, in their competitiveness, journalists are sacrificing thorough reporting.

I tend to agree, however, I would argue that journalists from television and newsprint now face new competition from the internet. While 24 hour news made journalists less thorough, the advent of the instant scoop via the internet has made an even greater impact on the quality of journalism, and not necessarily for the better.

Again, when it is online, I absolutely recommend that you track down the episode of the Daily Show from July 20th. It was vastly entertaining, but also shed light on an interesting issue in the media.

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Responses

  1. Good synopsis…I saw the show last night and it did indeed touch many of the issues we have been talking about in class.

    I will keep a look out for the online videos and will post them when they’re available.

  2. In fact, here they are:

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-july-20-2009/to-sir–with-love

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-july-20-2009/to-sir–with-love—texting-mark-sanford

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-july-20-2009/brian-williams


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