Thursday, February 21, 2013

David Corn and the 47% remark


I like David Corn. He's a good reporter. But people have made far too much about his article,SECRET VIDEO: Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He REALLY Thinks of Obama Voters. That was the infamous 47% video. In announcing that Corn had won the George Polk Award for the story, the sponsor said that it was "a story that rocked the nation and perhaps cost Mitt Romney the Presidential election." Please!

There are two problems here. First, this isn't exactly Watergate Cover-Up investigative journalism. Paul Farhi explains how Corn got the story. He "spent about four weeks coaxing the person who had surreptitiously shot the footage to hand over the full, undoctored video." So the guy who made the tape, gave parts of it to Corn. Over the course of four weeks, Corn got him to trust enough to hand over the whole thing. Oh my God: give that man a prize!

The second problem is the more serious. There is no way that the 47% story lost Romney the election. Stories like it gain traction because they are not shocking. People already knew that Romney held these kinds of beliefs. The story was just a handy example of it. And as we know with all the examples of Al Gore's dishonesty: if the facts don't fit the narrative, the media will manufacture the facts. You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war!

I don't mind David Corn getting an award. He seems to be a good journalist with some significant and important stories (like breaking the news that Valerie Plame was a covert agent and so it was wrong for the Bush administration to leak her name to reporters). But in the 47% story, he didn't do all that much journalism. What's more, although the story was popular, it wasn't important. But I guess that kind of sums up modern American journalism.


(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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