JOURNALISM FOR PROFIT AND POWER
Gossip is a lucrative business.
If you can write in English without spelling errors, you can make money out of your writing. Even if you just write up gossip.
That’s the way Washington, NYC and California journalists make a living.
Note: You’ll find the purpose of this blog at its bottom paragraph.
Journalism is an interesting trade. The journalists are practitioners of professional gossiping. They are purveyors of gossip of any kind. Next, they flip, re-sell the gossip item. People like to read gossip. People are raised on family gossip.
People reward anyone for gossip. That’s part of human nature.
In the Heartland of America – working farmers grow wheat and corn. They raise livestock to feed America. In the coastal States people trade gossip for a living.
Walter Winchell (1987-1972) is credited as the classic gossip columnist. He is the patriarch of journalistic gossiping among his many other doings. Winchell became known for his attempts to destroy the careers of his political and personal enemies. His own career progressed, after World War II. Favorite tactics were allegations of having ties to Communist organizations and accusations of sexual impropriety. Winchell’s best known aphorism:
“I usually get my stuff from people who promised somebody else that they would keep it a secret”.
He had a column in the NY Daily Mirror newspaper. Through his newspaper column which had nation-wide circulation, Winchell achieved the position of an “influencer” and originator of idiomatic slang.
He was a staunch supporter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal throughout the Depression era. He frequently served as the Roosevelt Administration’s mouthpiece. He wrote and spoke in favor of military intervention when the European war crisis loomed in the late 1930s. He befriended J. Edgar Hoover and was also an outspoken supporter of civil rights for African Americans.
On his radio and television broadcasts, on April 4, 1954, Winchell helped to stoke public fear of the polio vaccine.
Sounds familiar in 2022?
Walter Winchell died in 1972. He was estimated to have a net worth over $1.5 million. It was acquired in first half of the 20th century dollars. Nonetheless, he passed impoverished from Prostate cancer.
Walter Winchell was the archetype of modern time print, TV and radio sleaze journalism.
Page Six of the NY post states in Y2K22 terms:
If you don’t want it on Page Six. Don’t do it.
Ed Murrow, came next.
Ed Murrow (1908-1965), was a different story. Ed Murrow earned his bona fides during WW II in Europe, broadcasting for CBS news on location. On April 12, 1945, Murrow was among the first reporters at the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany where they met emaciated survivors. He was a celebrity broadcaster who later left CBS and landed the Federal job of Director of the USIA. He became a presidential appointee in the Kennedy administration.
Murrow was also appointed as a member of the Kennedy’s National Security Council. Talk about the power of journalism.
Murrow died of lung cancer at the age of 57. The estimate of his net worth was $1.5 million.
Walter Lippmann, (1889-1974), was an American journalist of a different tribe.
Walter Lippmann belonged to a unique tribe of journalists that worked with American presidents as their sought after counselor. As such in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson presented Lippmann with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Walter Lippmann did not assume that news and truth are the same. For Lippmann, the “function of news is to signalize an event, the function of truth is to bring to light the hidden facts, to set them in relation with each other, and make a picture of reality on which men can act.” A journalist’s version of the truth is subjective and limited to how they construct their reality.
As you see, journalists acquire gossip on retail basis and resell it on wholesale. Most journalists are not interested in the core truth or create their own version of the truth. Rarely there is money in truth.
Bob Woodward was instrumental in toppling President Nixon together with his fellow investigative reporter Carl Bernstein. Anyone hardly get to topple a president through print media, more than once in a centennial. However he goes on the pursuit of stories relating to every successive president looking for the kryptonite stone that will weaken the president and return Woodward to his years of fame and money under the Washington’s skies.
Often times the media becomes its own story. That is the current case of the Cuomo brothers and the former boss of CNN and his associate.
This blog is an introduction to an upcoming book-review of Bob Woodward’s trilogy: Fear, Rage and Peril, as a part of an ongoing series titled Bibliotheca Trumpiana.
In summary, journalists thrive on a mix of social connections to powerful politicians, and monetization of the acquired information, sprinkled with celebrity brand status.
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