One of the worst things about today’s news media is the large number of worthless, clueless and truthless online bloggers who call themselves journalists but, frankly, bring nothing but dishonor and shame to the profession by their misappropriation of the term.
I tell you that as a prelude to a story.
On Monday, April 11, 2011, at 11:04 a.m. Eastern time, I received the following email in my inbox from Justin Elliott of Salon.com:
Joseph – I’m doing a piece for Salon about the claim that Obama has spent $2 million on legal fees to fight eligibility lawsuits. Much of this seems to come from WND’s reporting – I’m wondering, do you believe it is accurate when Donald Trump asks, “Why has he spent over $2 million in legal fees to keep this quiet and to keep this silent?”
Does WND have evidence for this?
On Monday, April 11, 2011, at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time, a story headlined “Trump and Palin’s $2 million birther lie,” written by said Justin Elliott, was posted on Salon.com.
It seems traveling journalist Justin Elliott was pretty eager to get his big scoop up at Salon – having given me all of one hour and 26 minutes to respond, assuming it was not edited before posting, which, I think, is a safe assumption.
The intent of Elliott’s screed was to attack Donald Trump and Sarah Palin for doing what most of Elliott’s partisan pals in in the media have failed to do – hold Barack Obama accountable to the standards of other presidents, to his own pledge to conduct the most open and transparent administration in American history and to the letter of the Constitution.
It seems Trump and Palin both mentioned that Obama had spent $2 million hiding his birth certificate, and Elliott was determined to punch holes in that story. (As an aside, I will tell you I suspect that estimate is actually quite low, because Obama has used the cover of his taxpayer-supported office to devote far more than $2 million in financial resources to cover up whatever he’s hiding on his birth certificate.)
It turns out both Trump and Palin must be WND readers, because Elliott put on his investigator cap and found WND had actually done a three-part series on Obama’s legal efforts to secure his birth certificate from the prying eyes of his subjects. Or, as Elliott put it so subtly, “this figure is based on shoddy reporting by a discredited birther website and lacks any evidence to back it up.”
Never once in his article does Elliott explain how WND has been “discredited” or why reporter Chelsea Schilling’s series is “shoddy.” So much for “backing up the lead,” as we say in the news business.
I’d like you to compare and contrast and form your own opinions about the level of professionalism and journalistic integrity demonstrated by the two starkly different reporters, with starkly different approaches to journalism.
I’d like you to look at the two reporters and make any judgments you think are appropriate about them: Which one would you rather have dinner with? Which one would you most trust to babysit your kids? Which one would you most likely hire if you had the choice? Which one seems more trustworthy?
And then move on to their official bios:
Here’s Elliott’s: “Justin Elliott is a reporter-blogger at TPMmuckraker. Previously, he served for over a year as the News Editor for TPM, during which time he once used the word ‘apophasis’ on the front page. He has a degree from Brown, where he studied history and classics and served as executive editor and vice president of the Brown Daily Herald. He has written for Mother Jones, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and other publications. Justin’s formative political experience was as a U.S. Senate page in 2002, where he attended Bush’s ‘axis of evil’ speech and watched Strom Thurmond ply female pages with mint candies. A native of Bridgewater, Mass., he now lives in Brooklyn and can be reached at justin /at/ talkingpointsmemo.com.”
Here’s Schilling’s unofficial one, written by me because she’s too modest to tell you herself: “Chelsea Schilling is one of the most remarkable young women I have ever met. She served in the U.S. Army, where she met her husband, Steve. Later she put herself through college, graduating with a 4.0 GPA, majoring in journalism. She began work as a WND staff writer shortly thereafter. She is the mother of two. And she is like a daughter to me.”
As I said, I’ll take principled, professional reporters like Chelsea Schilling any day over sissified, left-wing bloggers pretending to do journalism.
And by the way, we stand by Schilling’s three reports – every word of them.