Old school journalism vs. whatever they call journalism today re. Epstein's suicide

Funny how the coverage of Jeffrey Epstein’s “suicide” has, in some corners, been overshadowed by stories about how it has encouraged conspiracy nuts to come out from under their rocks.

Already, there’s  a lengthy Wikipedia page, “Death of Jeffrey Epstein,” itemizes the theorists and their theories. Some examples:

Florida Senator Marco Rubio alleged that Russian bots were spreading Epstein conspiracy theories to create their own narrative and divide Americans. A spokesperson for Virginia Senator Mark Warner claimed that spreading conspiracy theories was “doing Russia’s dirty work for them.”…

Filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted: “I guess they think a country dumb enough to elect Trump is stupid enough to believe Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide.

Somehow, the story about conspiracy theorists has become as important, if not more so, than the death itself. That led Wall Street Journal Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Peggy Noonan to write in the style of the late old school columnist Mike McAlary:

The papers are doing their stories about those strange Americans with their quirky ways burning up the internet with their quaint conspiracies. But who would not wonder about foul play? With all the people who’d want him dead?

Who, indeed? In other words, the press damn well better look into the death and any conspiracies involved in it. Noonan, writing in the voice of McAlary worries that the focus on conspiracy stories is getting in the way of the traditional role of the press:

This whole thing is a big stinkin’, fumin’ hunk of foul-up. And there’s still time to get this story. I miss the tough, crazy beat reporters of yore.

Whom, Noonan believes and so do I, would go full steam ahead into any  conspiracy evidence and to hell with those who would be dissuaded by ridicule. And the reason why, Noonan suggests, is that today’s journalists have abandoned their job of following a story wherever it leads–objectively and without political bias–in favor of pushing an ideological agenda.

As Noonan via McAlary observes of today’s journalists:

You get the impression they became reporters to affect the discourse. “I’m going into journalism to press for cultural and political justice.”

These observations are particularly appropriate in light of the turmoil at the New York Times as its so-very-dedicated and progressive reporters and editors try to impose their new journalism credo on the newspaper. Their idea of journalism is to “affect the discourse,” and become crusaders of social justice , rather than to report the news as objectively and fairly as possible. The way I was taught at Marquette University many years ago.

So, the Times treats its readers to its “1619 project.” To wit:

The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.

Among the Times articles is this one: “America holds onto an undemocratic assumption from its founding: that some people deserve more power than others.”  Bunk. Garbage. If there are people who believe that, and undoubtedly there are some, it is not a precept that “America holds onto…” by the many who hold true to the nation’s ideals.

But such is the mindset of the New Journalism, as the New York Times defines it for one and all.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. An aggressive press must investigate, uncover and analyze the world as we know it. But that doesn’t mean that the first job of reporters and editors is to be “change agents” for an ideological creed.



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  • Obviously Epstein's death is extremely suspicious. However, the idea that an aged pedophile would kill himself in prison is plausible and given more credence by Epstein's previous suicide attempt (or maybe attempts).

    what does "suicide watch" mean in the context of the facility where he was held? Suddenly EVERYONE is an expert on a Federal correctional facility's suicide watch protocol.

    If "suicide watch" means that someone walks past the cells every 3-5 minutes to check on the occupants, then it is entirely plausible that a person could commit suicide under those conditions. If "suicide watch" means that the person is under nonstop observation (presumably by camera) then it becomes considerably less plausible.

  • Also, The 1619 Project is what we Old School Journalists refer to as a Feature, not hard news. Totally different sections of the paper, though I will concede the lines have blurred more than they should over the years. See FoxNews.

  • In reply to Michael Messinger:

    Whatever it is called, feature or hard news, it is what it is.

  • I have an old name for the new journalism: propaganda

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