Mainstream media’s whiff on Northam yearbook photo shows why we need term limits for political reporters

John Ruberry of Da Magnificent Seven

By John Ruberry

Contemporary journalism needs fresh faces. Particularly political journalism.

Here is some dialogue from Alfred Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent, which is set just before World War II began.

Mr. Powers [newspaper editor]: How would you like to cover the biggest story in the world today?

John Jones: Give me and expense account and I’ll cover anything.

Mr. Powers: I’ll give you an expense account.

John Jones: Okay, What’s the story?

Mr. Powers: Europe.

John Jones: Well, I’m afraid I’m not exactly equipped, sir, but I can do some reading up.

Mr. Powers: No no, no reading up. I like you just as you are, Mr. Jones. What Europe needs is a fresh, unused mind.

John Jones: Foreign correspondent, huh?

Mr. Powers: No, reporter. I don’t want correspondence, I want news.

Media bias is so insidious even I am still shocked by its depth. And I’ve been railing about it for many years.

Brett Kavanaugh was compelled to answer questions about crude sexual terms that were on his high school yearbook during his Senate confirmation hearings. 

Of course another yearbook story threatens the political career of Democratic Virginia governor Ralph Northam. Earlier this week Northam, a medical doctor, advocated infanticide as he advocated the merits of a third trimester abortion bill.

Then on Friday afternoon a conservative website, Big League Politics, posted Northam’s medical school yearbook page which includes a picture of a man in blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe.

On his show Friday night Mark Levin asked, “How is it that the media didn’t even look at his medical [school] yearbook? How is that possible? They’re hunting down Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook.”

The Washington Post was of course forced to cover the blackface/KKK story once Big League Politics broke it, but Levin then inquired about the Post, which endorsed Northam for lieutenant governor and later governor. “Do they take any responsibility for not doing a proper vetting?”

And in regards to the rest of the media, Levin zoomed in on the bias inadvertently exposed by Northam and the racist photo. “Somehow they missed this,” Levin lamented. “I’m not saying they covered it up, I’m saying they didn’t want to look. They don’t look at a background of a Democrat running for office as thoroughly as they look at a Republican.”

That is because, with a few exceptions, the elite media isn’t interested in reporting straight news, they want to advance an narrative that Democrats are good and Republicans are bad. And that Donald Trump of course is evil. Most of the media does not respect our national heritage. No country is perfect of course. And like Barack Obama, the establishment media wants to fundamentally transform America.

There’s a way of of this mess which I suspect the elite media won’t choose. After five years of covering politics, reporters should be transferred to other beats. The Chicago Tribune, not too long ago, used to routinely transfer journalists from all disciplines to new ones. I recall a religion writer being assigned to the local baseball beat for instance. The upside of beats is that the journalists covering, let’s say a courthouse or a state capitol, know, metaphorically speaking I hope, where the bodies are buried. The downside is that eventually beat reporters get too cozy with those they are covering and their impartiality is compromised. Judge Whozit becomes a drinking buddy. Senator Whodat becomes a sexual partner. Alderman Whatsup hires a beat reporter’s daughter for a summer job. And when political reporters have a ideological agenda, which most of course do, that is a recipe for wretched and disingenuous journalism.

And what’s wrong with a fresh perspective? Or as Hitchcock’s Powers character told Jones in Foreign Correspondent, “I don’t want any more economists, sages, or oracles bombinating over our cables. I want a reporter. Somebody who doesn’t know the difference between an ism and a kangaroo.”

America needs fewer lifetime political journalists. America needs more news.

We need term limits for political reporters.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.