Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cast Aside

So I called an organization today because I'm reporting on breaking news only they could answer. Many news outlets have dealt with them over the past few days, and I was put on hold with the director for over five minutes.

The interview hadn't begun when I'm told the local TV news van pulled up and could I possibly call back in an hour.

Really? You're pulling that shit with me? I have to terminate my interview after being told to wait on the phone because the fucking TV news is there?

What a festering mound of iguana shit!

If you have any doubt about the power of TV versus print, here's your example. Our local TV news station is run by tranquilized Rhesus monkeys and still people laud them as the bulwark of truth. They stagger in late to meetings, usually with a cameraman who resembles a scruffy crack addict, and an attractive reporter who looks like she headed her sorority's pledge class. Everyone from public officials to normal humans genuflect in their anointed presence as the camera begins rolling and the sound bites start flying.

Look, I get how a local weekly newspaper is about as effective as a woman taking a pregnancy test one month after conception. I get how the Internet is the Grand Poobah of media, how not having an online presence spells extinction for print.

What I don't get is how this organization can push me aside for the local TV news when I was on the phone waiting for an interview. This isn't the first time I've been cast aside because the coiffed and buffed overpaid mannequins of local TV barged in with a grandiloquent flourish.

There really isn't anything positive I can say about TV news. I find it manipulative, shallow and inane. It's a sensationalistic sideshow responsible for dumbing down the issues, distilling them into easily digestible sound bites and squirting them into the viewer's brains. Whenever that news van shows up, something magical occurs. Rational people lose their sanity and are turned into groveling morlocks from the Hollow Earth.

"Oooh, look! It's the local TV news! Look at how stunning the reporter is! She's got the wholesomeness of Kelly Ripa with the sassiness of a German dominatrix!"

The more I work as a print journalist, the more I'm convinced my life is one cosmic joke. Like Jim Carey in "The Truman Show", I'm trapped in a world not of my making. My life is one gargantuan Skinner Box filled with tantalizing rewards and cruel punishments. I'm beaten down severely, reminded that everything is suffering, that intelligence and effort don't matter, and douchebags in suits reap rewarding careers and respect.

Since America is an illiterate funhouse filled with whining children, obese mothers in muumuus and angry men screaming partisan rhetoric at their radios, this slight by TV news makes sense. It's a frustrating experience going to work every day to interview people, writing the words, accurately portraying events and crafting a news story only to be stopped by someone who doesn't appreciate print. Whether words on paper or a screen, language and writing matter. TV relies on images, folksy personalities and attractive presenters. Whether substance leaks through into the broadcast is purely incidental.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Media Whores

In the Netflix series “House of Cards”, journalist Zoe Barnes, played by Kate Mara, has a torrid affair with Congressman Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey. Their relationship is one of self-interest and convenience; Barnes receives insider information about the horse-trading in Washington’s back rooms, while Underwood has a reporter he controls. In one scene, Underwood tells her the sex is not about his gratification, but power.

For Barnes, compromising her integrity and ethics as a journalist is all about obtaining information other reporters can’t get. It’s about getting the exclusive, and breaking the story.

The messy stuff about journalistic ethics and morality merely cloud her goals.

House of Cards is the latest Hollywood depiction of female journalists who using their vaginas to score the news. Though an excellent political drama with intense acting and superb writing, House of Cards trots out the cliché of “repwhoreters” – female reporters sleeping with their sources.

Barnes is determined, almost sociopathic in her calculations. She fires back at her editor, refuses to name her source and continues to pester Underwood for more crumbs. Veteran reporter Janine Skorsky, played by Constance Zimmer, excoriates the youth Barnes on her brashness, and calls her “Twitter twat” for her reliance on social media.

Yet in a later episode, Skorsky admits that she, too, had a fling with a congressman, and also bedded sources for information.

“I used to suck, screw, and jerk anything that moved just to get a story,” Skorsky said with pride, then names the list of her Capital Hill paramours.

The implication here is female reporters are hookers with steno pads, rubbing uglies and prostituting themselves for stories.

In the movie Ironman, Robert Downey Jr. plays weapons magnate Tony Stark, a millionaire playboy with a penchant for extravagance. Early in the film, reporter Christine Everhart, played by Leslie Bibb, abruptly grills Stark on the dangers of the arms industry. Everhart, opposed to weapons, proceeds to lecture him on the consequences of an arms race. Stark retorts with a verbal beat-down of his own, contending his company’s scientific innovations do more good than harm.

“You ever lose an hour of sleep your whole life?” Everhart asks.

“I’d be prepared to lose a few with you,” Stark replies. Cut to both of them tumbling in bed.

Why did Everhart, who wanted a “serious answer” from her source – who she philosophically despises – sleep with him? Wouldn’t he be repugnant to her?

I loathed this scene when I saw it because it depicted Everhart as an airhead cocktease instead of a serious reporter. But she did write for Vanity Fair, so I guess my previous assessment was accurate.
In the 1981 film Absence of Malice, Sally Field plays reporter Megan Carter, who has an affair with Michael Gallagher, played by Paul Newman, a man accused of a crime she’s writing about.

Even if you have the brain of a gnat, you’d comprehend the ethical conundrum of banging the subject of your stories.

No professional distance or restraint.

Just knob-gobbling and stained sheets.

Despite these cinematic depictions, not all female reporters engage in such unprofessional conduct.

It amazes me that now, in 2013, men still don’t know how to communicate with women. They misread signals and interpret a passing interest as romantic interest. Especially lecherous old politicians and police officers, who fantasize about attractive reporters or any women for that matter, as sexual objects to be conquered or dominated.

Female reporters are portrayed as naughty news vixens using seduction on powerful middle aged men so they answer questions.

What does it say about professional reporters who become emotionally and physically involved with the men they cover?

Why risk your impartiality for cock, even if that cock is attached to a powerful millionaire with access to the nuclear launch codes?

These women aren’t confined to the realm of Hollywood bullshit. They’re not all forged from the deranged imagination of a screenwriter.

Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Laura Foreman slept with Pennsylvania state Senator Henry Cianfrani, whom she wrote about. Her editors at the Inquirer knew about the relationship and allowed it to continue, but when Foreman went to The New York Times and it was discovered she played tonsil hockey with Cianfrani, she was let go.

New York Times reporter Judith Miller slept with Congressman Les Aspin while he was her source.

Gina Chon, a Wall Street Journal reporter who covered the war in Iraq, had a relationship with former National Security Council official Brett McGurk, while using him as a source.

Telemundo reporter Mirthala Salinas had an affair with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa while covering him.

Now I might sound like Captain Misogynist from Planet Chauvinist, but such behavior is unethical. One of the reasons why the media is a clown bukkake nightmare circus is the erosion of the public’s trust. How can readers rely on reporters to deliver the news objectively without a hint of bias or favoritism when the reporters are robo-fuckbots screwing for stories?

So here’s my advice to all reporters, both male and female. Ready?

The thing you do with your genitals and your sources?

Don’t so that.


You’re better than that. I know it’s your prerogative to go with your gut and emotions, but trust me on this. What you’re doing just makes you look like a desperate asshole. Use your brains. Interviewing is not difficult. If you’re really desperate for a fling, fuck the mulatto in the mailroom or the nerd in the IT department. But a vibrator if you must, but don’t bang your sources. If you do, you’ll be a sad cliché, joining the ranks of the manipulative reporters who buy into the sordid quid pro quo agreements politicians, police officers and businessmen have with their Lois Lane knock-offs.

Focus on the information gathering and writing. If your source gets grabby or aggressive, blast the fucker with pepper spray. Take pride in yourselves and your career. You’re supposed to be a reporter, not a Las Vegas escort.

Besides, do you really want to have rough sex with a politician while his bodyguard stands outside the hotel room door? Or have an elderly businessman perform autoerotic asphyxiation on you with his necktie while slapping his wrinkled scrotum against your chin?

Remember, you can’t ask them questions with a mouthful of dick.