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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Are Reporters “Seething” Over Chelsea Clinton’s NBC Gig?

Are Reporters “Seething” Over Chelsea Clinton’s NBC Gig?

One Writer Is

By Dell Hill via Abraxas

This piece comes along from Abraxas, and while I can fully understand the consternation, I don’t necessarily agree with what reads more like jealousy from Victor Epstein, rather than a carefully crafted piece of objective writing.  I decided to publish it anyway, and let you decide. - DRH  

I don't have much liking for journalists nowadays.  But I have nothing but respect for the anger which veteran journalist Victor Epstein vents in his article below where he talks about the recent appointment of Chelsea Clinton as 'special news correspondent' for NBC News.  (Hat tip to DB for this.) - Abraxas

“You may not read it anywhere but here, but I guarantee you that beleaguered reporters around this nation are quietly seething with resentment over Chelsea’s latest “accomplishment.” There is such a thing as receiving too much damn help from mummy and daddy...This kind of caper by the upper crust is becoming the norm rather than the exception as politicians and their kids take over the  national-level media. Journalism objectivity is being transformed into partisan political cheerleading by these entitled opportunists, much as the neutral stock analysis that once characterized Wall Street was transformed into advertising during the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s.

You won’t see these silver spoons working for a small-town newspaper or TV station. The 1% and their children don’t pay their dues in the sticks like the rest of us...Even more disgraceful is the fact that Chelsea will have all of the rights of free speech that are now routinely denied to most rank-and-file reporters in the increasingly repressive news industry. In the name of “objectivity,” we’re discouraged from expressing opinions on anything. Many times, we’re not even allowed to champion the truth over disinformation.


Clinton is not the first unqualified silver spoon from the professional political class to be handed a plum news job. There are tons of them. Maria Shriver started the trend in the late 80s when she landed a network news gig seemingly out of nowhere...The current crop of media silver spoons includes Meghan McCain, daughter of Sen. John McCain, who is a contributor to MSNBC; Chris Cuomo, son of former New York State Gov. Mario Cuomo and a correspondent at ABC; and Jenna Bush Hager (left), daughter of President George W. Bush and a correspondent for NBC’s “Today” show.


Want to know what Meghan McCain’s qualifications are for one of the handful of network television news jobs? Me too....Like a lot of aspiring journalists the 27-year-old decided to try her hand at writing a blog. Unlike the rest of us, her blog is published by The Daily Beast – an international news organization that’s a destination job for most journalism lifers. I can’t even get them to look at my resume, and I broke the iconic story of Hurricane Katrina.  

The highlight of each column is the introductory paragraph written by the editors of The Daily Beast. Without them, readers wouldn’t even know what message McCain was trying to share. The basic story structure needed to communicate that information just isn’t there...McCain also has a Twitter account. That’s where she chose to respond to the suggestion by one journalist that she had “never accomplished anything.” According to Gawker, McCain “posted an expletive-ridden and atrociously spelled” response which ticked off a series of very suspect accomplishments. They included tutoring kids at church, delivering flowers to hospital patients, internships at Newsweek and Saturday Night Live, and the erroneous claim to have written the first blog in history to document a presidential campaign in 2008.


All of which brings us back to Chelsea Clinton...What entitles her to avoid paying the same kind of dues that those of us in the 99% routinely shoulder to claw our way into the news industry? I’m willing to bet the bank I’d beat her 99 times out of 100 if we ever went head-to-head on a competitive beat. The one is for mummy and daddy’s friends...Chelsea’s already had every possible advantage. Why does she merit even more?  Is it because of her lifelong commitment to journalism? No. Chelsea had never been a journalist and never exhibited any professional interest in the field until she decided to pursue a career in the family business – elected politics. She’s notorious for refusing to answer reporter’s questions, even for stories about her new reporting job...If I could ask her a single question it would be “what in the world makes you better than me and the people like me in journalism? We’ve fought hard for the little we have, devoted ourselves to public service, paid our dues and made personal sacrifices to be in this field.  What have you ever done, besides be born?”


Sorry Chelsea, you and your fellow silver spoons are not ready to lead me and hardworking Americans like me. You’re not a patch on us.  But if we ever create a “House of Lords” to represent America’s self-appointed hereditary aristocracy, like the one they have in merry old England, you’ve got my vote. You’d be perfect for that.  Until then, leave me and those like me alone. If we wanted to be ruled by a hereditary aristocracy through an entrenched political machine, we’d move to North Korea.”


Certainly some points well-taken, but I still have to believe that this is America and if one is fortunate enough to “luck out” - whether it’s because of their name or whatever other reason - that’s their good fortune.

To me, it’s far more important what they do AFTER being on the receiving end of a plumb appointment.  If Chelsea Clinton turns out to be the best reporter on TV, the move by NBC will be seen as brilliant.  If she falls flat on her face, NBC will look like dolts and the lady will disappear from your TV screen so fast you’ll never know what happened.

I say “OK, you got your big break; now let’s see what you can do”.

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