Thursday, April 22, 2010

washington post vs. @buttscratcher69

What do Joel Achenbach, Anne Applebaum, David Broder, Jonathan Capehart, Richard Cohen, Petula Dvorak, Jackson Diehl, E.J. Dionne, Michael Gerson, Fred Hiatt, Kevin Huffman, David Ignatius, Robert Kagan, Al Kamen, Colbert King, Ezra Klein, Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol, Ruth Marcus, Robert McCartney, Harold Meyerson, Dana Milbank, Matt Miller, Courtland Milloy, Kathleen Parker, Steven Pearlstein, Eugene Robinson, Robert Samuelson, Marc Thiessen, Katrina vanden Heuvel, George Will, Jonathan Yardley and Fareed Zakaria all have in common?

They're all opinion columnists at The Washington Post. Hmm.

Now, perhaps it's just my cynicism as an underemployed journalist, but doesn't it seem a bit suspicious that the opinion section of the paper has 33 employees/regular contributors (most of whom aren't original and/or worth the read anyway), while meanwhile, the paper has fired actual news reporters from its other, arguably more important sections? I mean, it's called a newspaper, not a dick-with-an-opinionpaper, right? Right.

Seriously, when I go to the local section to read about a man getting sentenced to jail for tossing a lizard or ferrets being found in the mail, I expect in-depth, original reporting. But instead, all I get is a blurb and a footnote that the Post jacked those stories from NBC4 and The Roanoke Times, respectively. What?! That's ass-backwards! Shouldn't it be the other way around? (Um, backwards-ass?) Especially with broadcast news! How embarrassing to bite stories from television news, especially since broadcasters now have no qualms about acknowledging that they get most of their reportage from Twitter.

According to CNN's resident Tweet 'tard, Rick Sanchez, "This is the first time we can connect directly with citizens who could be a reliable source aside from the talking heads and pretty faces that serve as news anchors."

Yeah, Rick. I'm sure most of us are more apt to trust @buttscratcher69 over you. Well, actually, um, maybe that's true. Rick Sanchez is an idiot, so yes, actually, I guess I'm with @buttscratcher69 on that one. But are we willing to trust @buttscratcher69 over the Post?

Maybe. I suppose as long as the Post keeps propping up its editorial columnists, often at the expense, it seems, of on-the-ground reporters, I don't see any reason why Michael Gerson's or Dana Milbank's version of "the news" should be any more trustworthy than @buttscratcher69's, or hell, even Rick Sanchez's. They're all opinions, after all.

Of course, this is not to say the Post is a total rag. In fact, calling it "a rag" at all is kind of ridiculous. While it may fail in its often yawn-and/or-cringe-worthy opinion pieces, the Post's investigative unit is one of the best in the nation. I'm not sure if that's solely because Dana Priest's sh*t is tight as hell or because Post management actually gives that section a workable budget. Maybe it's a combination of the two. But whatever the cause, as long as the Post keeps breaking news (the CIA 'black site' story of 2005) and publishing Pulitzer-worthy sagas (the Walter Reed story of 2007), I'll continue to read it every day. Also, it doesn't hurt that the Post's Sunday crossword rivals the New York Times' in its level of difficulty, both of which I am capable of crushing, by the way, because I'm an idiot savant.

But getting back to my original complaint: Why the f*ck does the Post need 33 opinionators? Are five right-wing voices better than one? Or five left-wingers? Jesus. Maybe if they expanded their voice pool, you know, by hiring a sassy, local blogger who kowtows to no side (ahem, just sayin'), they could justify having more than, say, 10...

But no. I'm afraid @buttscratcher69 is probably the next in line. He'll be hired next year when the Post and all other news outlets decide to publish pieces that are no more than 140 characters in length:

Alas, I guess that's just the way of the world. Maybe people aren't as interested as they used to be in muckraking reporting and understanding issues from the inside out. Maybe people really do want just headlines, snippets and the 140-character opinions of the @buttscratcher69's of the world. If that's the case, then I fear my outrage is misdirected. If it's not the news organizations that are at fault for killing news reporting (whether it's print, broadcast or otherwise), it must be us. Or maybe it's some sort of symbiosis of suck between we, the people, and the major news outlets.

Who knows. And, really, who cares? Because the chances of newspapers returning to what they could have been are about as good as the chances of your computer self-immolating after you finish reading this sentence.

See? Nothing happened, which I guess means it's time to say farewell to the news and hello to @buttscratcher69. Can't wait to hear what he says about the Goldman Sachs debacle.


Patrick B said...

all the news fit to print...i mean listen to...I mean break into the national press club for...

Sara said...

Ok I did just post an article from the post on my Facebook wall because it was the only source I found with an article that said that, buuuut, I do tend to agree with you there.

I'm loving this buttscratcher dude by the way.

Marissa said...


Of all the times to not have a press pass...dang. I hope they send Buttscratcher.


Ha! I'll pass the word along to The Scratcher.