June 22, 2008

Bob Somerby and We Irish

If you are not making The Daily Howler a regular stop you're missing out on some of the best media criticism on the web. Go review this past week's postings. Somerby isn't afraid to take on the sacred cows. In this post on "We Irish" Somerby takes on Jack Welch's NBC news division.

Is there really something wrong with assembling a news division in the way Jack Welch did? We think the problem is already evident here—and we think it became a good deal more evident as this discussion proceeded.

In this discussion, you see three East Coast Irish Catholics "starting with the religious piece.” “This is probably the one night we’ll ever do it on Hardball,” Matthews said—and let us translate that for you too. Almost surely, this was “the one night” on which these men will tell you, anywhere near this frankly, how they really see the world. Indeed, in the passages we’ve already quoted, a great deal has already been said.

What happens when you’re raised as Russert was raised? Buchanan stated his view of the matter. “I think it creates in you a certain type of individual,” he said. And then, he said what type of individual he had in mind. If we remember who Buchanan was discussing, we think he made a striking assertion:
BUCHANAN: [Russert] was unique, he was sui generis, because he came out of that working class Catholic urban ethnic Buffalo neighborhood, parochial school, church, "Sister this.” And you’re respectful. You were obedient. And I think it creates in you a certain type of individual. I don’t care what side of the party of the political party you’re on, we are culturally very much the same.
What happens when you’re raised as We Irish were raised? According to Buchanan, you become a respectful person. You become obedient. And not only that: The Jesuits “did imbue in you certain certitudes, beliefs of right and wrong. They were hammered into you.”

But here’s our question: Are those the traits you want to see in your nation’s leading journalists? And then too, were those really the traits of you saw in the work of Tim Russert? We had planned to postpone this discussion, but we think the ideas being blabbed all about are too important to be delayed. So how about it: Do you want an obedient, respectful news corps? A news division full of people who got their “certitudes” “hammered” into them during the early years of life? And is that really what Russert was like? We think these questions are especially relevant because of what Matthews said to Olbermann last Friday night.

It seems his words may have been disappeared. But in his comments to Olbermann, Matthews did describe an obedient man, a man who bought the company line—the “patriotic” line—at a time when his nation really needed a hard-headed type of analysis. There is much to ponder in last night’s discussion; we’ll continue with it tomorrow. But according to Buchanan, We Irish were raised to be respectful—obedient. And everybody seemed to agree: We Irish are better than the rest.

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