Memo To:Newspaper and Magazine Editors
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: A Peopleís Journalism
Of course, you all look down your noses at Matt Drudge because he is an Internet schmoe who traffics in gossip, not news. On "FoxNewsSunday" this Sunday, Drudge made Marvin Kalb look like a pompous ass, reminding Marv that if it were not for the Drudge Report, the Clinton/Lewinsky story might never have been told. Drudge is absolutely right when he says that EDITORS kill practically all stories that are inimical to the interests of the political establishment, the elites. Professional journalists believe there is a healthy tension between the legitimate political viewpoints in the country and that they are adequately represented by the major media, but the tension is extremely narrow. The big guys who control the establishment own the two political parties and they own the major media. The editorial pages of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post represent the interests of the people at the top of the national pyramid. They really think they take into account the interests of the people at the bottom of the pile, but when they do it is accidental.
What Drudge is saying quite plainly is that that top editors are screening out news material that they find distasteful. That is, they are not interested in developing material -- news or news analysis -- that seems to be outside the realm of ďresponsibleĒ news. I think Drudge is right. The major news media diverges to a common denominator.
1. Iíd like to write a piece about how good I think Louis Farrakhan is. Iíve spent countless hours with him and have decided beyond any reasonable doubt that he is one of the nicest men Iíve ever met. Iím known to the Jewish community as a friend going back to my earliest days in Washington 32 years ago. Yet when I propose to write such an op-ed, Iím told in advance that whatever I write will not be welcome. An editor at the NYTimes who is Jewish tells me he knows Farrakhan is anti-Semitic so there is no point having me write something he knows would not be acceptable to his readers. Another editor tells me that if I can persuade the editor of a Jewish newspaper that Farrakhan is someone he finds acceptable, he will entertain a commentary from me. An editor of Jewish newspaper agrees to assign a reporter to interview Farrakhan and when the reporter finds he really likes Farrakhan he decides somehow he was manipulated, and writes a column about what a bad guy Farrakhan is. It ridiculed me as well as Farrakhan. I write a letter to the editor and am told it will run. Thatís four months ago.
2. Iím credited with bringing classical economics back into discussion as ďsupply-side economics.Ē For the last 18 months Iíve been running around begging people to see a monetary deflation is going to hammer the world. I not only send arguments point out along the way how the world is acting the way I said it would. I write to all the reporters I know and pester all the editors I know. Alas, at the center of my assessment is gold, and gold is not a word that the major media are allowed to discuss in front of women and children. An op-ed editor at one of the major papers has an assistant call and tell me that the piece I wrote about fixing the Russian rouble with gold is unaccepable, that when they said they would like me to write a piece about the new Primakov team, they did not think I would mention gold. If I discussed oral sex in the Kremlin, presumably that would be okay, but not gold. The Wall Street Journal editorial page, which has been citing the importance of gold as the key monetary signal for 20 years, now fails to note that the global financial convulsions have occurred while the Federal Reserve has allowed the gold price to fall by $100 an ounce. Alan Greenspan and the Fed are responsible for the global meltdown, but it is not nice to say so even if you know it is true.
3. Iíve been writing articles and letters about Iraq since 1994 about how I believed we had no intention of ever lifting the sanctions, and that a great many innocent people were dying of starvation and disease because of the sanctions. Too bad for them. It had been decided by the people at the top that this is the way it was going to be, so there would be no point in talking about why it really was not a nice thing to do. It doesnít seem to matter what the facts are. The guys at the top decide on a course of action and thatís the way it is. In every story about how France and Russia have been making the arguments for relief, there is a boilerplate sentence inserted about how they have "commercial interests," while ours of course are humanitarian. Now we have a little story about how the House has voted 350-to-50 to spend $100 million to overthrow the Baghdad government. This is an act of war, but because all you men and women at the helm of the establishment press are required to tow the line on Iraq, there is no discussion about this. When the maniacs in the Islamic world blow up all or part of New York City, presumably there will be editorials coast-to-coast denouncing Islamic fundamentalism.
4. If it were not for Pat Buchanan's column, we would scarcely know what's going on in the Balkans. Now NATO is getting ready to drop bombs on the bad Serbs because Richard Holbrooke cannot get Slobodan Milosevic to agree to what the United States wants him to do. We read the papers every day to try to find out what Milosevic is saying, but can only find reports that he is being unreasonable.
One of the reasons I spend so much time on this website is that you are not doing your jobs. There would be no audience for the Drudge Report or for my Memos on the Margin if you didn't run in packs. Wolfpack journalism, we called it at one time. It's worse than ever. Three cheers for Matt Drudge and the Peopleís Journalism.