Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Sad, Sad, Sad CJR

Monday, May 15th, news broke that the US Justice Department had seized hundreds of phone records of the Associated Press for the month of April and May 2012.  AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt issued a statement noting:

There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of the Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP's newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP's activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.

Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) presents itself as a watchdog and brags, "Columbia Journalism Review's mission is to encourage excellence in journalism in the service of a free society. Founded in 1961 under theauspices of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, CJR monitors and supports the press as it works across all platforms, and also tracks the ongoing evolution of the media business."  So you know it was all over the story of the government secretly seizing AP's records.


The news broke on Monday.  By the end of the day Tuesday, despite posting several times that day, CJR had still had not commented on it.

Following two days of heavy criticism,  late Wednesday, CJR finally 'weighed in' with a post by Susan McGregor which never expressed outrage or solidarity.  This sudden and new detachment has of course not been evident at CJR previously -- certainly not in the years of advocacy Trudy Lieberman's done on behalf of ObamaCare.

And that was all the watchdog wrote on the matter.

No doubt speaking for many, Tom T. left a comment Friday at McGregor's post stating, "It's amazing that in the face of an unprecedented broad federal subpoena for journalists' phone records, CJR has absolutely nothing to say except this weak sauce.  It's clear where its priorities lie."


From "2012: The Year of Avoidance:"

ambassador to swingtown

Brett McGurk (above in Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Ambassador to Swingtown") was nominated by Barack Obama to be the US Ambassador to Iraq.    In the June 5th snapshot, we became the first to write about the e-mails between McGurk and his current wife Gina Chon when the two were married to other people and he was in Baghdad working for the US government while she was in Baghdad as a reporter for the Wall St. Journal.  Betty summed up the issues involved:

She was supposed to be a reporter for the "Wall St. Journal." They sent her to Baghdad to cover the Iraq War. It was 2008 and she was married but she had to get off, she really had to get off. So she hooked up with U.S. official Brett McGurk and began f___ing. He was her source. 
 She let him read her reports and make changes before she submitted them. She managed to keep that a secret. Even after she got back to the U.S. Even after she divorced her husband and hooked up with McGurk who was no longer a government employee. 
 Last week, her nasty e-mails became public. 
 The paper learned what a liar she was. That is when her "half-truths and outright lies" were exposed. That's when the paper told her she could announce she was leaving or they'd fire her.

That's pretty damn clear cut.  You don't sleep with your source.  You don't sleep with a government official over issues you're supposedly writing about.  You don't share your copy with a government official before publication.  These aren't new 'rules,' these are the basic of journalism ethics.

Had Chon and McGurk been exposed in 2008, Chon would have been dragged through the mud because when Bush was in the White House, FAIR, Democracy Now!, CJR, The Nation and others loved to grandstand on ethics.  They have none themselves, of course, which is why they avoided calling Chon out once Brett became a Barack nominee.

CJR tried to ignore this story.  But they set themselves up so they had to weigh in:

A concerned CJR reader, Martha, commented that we were ignoring a more important racy email story. A Wall Street Journal reporter resigned on Tuesday after a flirty email exchanges with a US official --a source at the time, now her husband --were made available on the Internet. Sigh. 

Erika Fry's writing that, FYI.  And the "concerned CJR reader, Martha" is our own Martha who, among other things, covers books each year with Shirley -- see most recently "2012 in Books (Martha & Shirley)."  Sigh,  Fry, you got caught.

But look at how  Fry tries to reason her way out of it:

Gina Chon, the Journal reporter, made an obvious ethical lapse in 2008 when she entered into a relationship Brett McGurk, a US official in Iraq, the country she was covering and failed to disclose it. She made another, arguably bigger one when she showed him her stories before they were published.
It was dumb, dumb, dumb for Chon and especially McGurk (at .gov) to send so many emails with so many cringeworthy references to ‘blue balls’ from their work accounts—the equivalent of sending booty calls out on company letterhead.
But that was in 2008, and they’re married now. It’s really something that, because of McGurk’s pending ambassadorship, the inappropriate BlackBerry exchanges that got their courtship started back in 2008 are public and professionally catastrophic for Chon and McGurk today. For what it’s worth, The Wall Street Journal has said that Chon’s relationship did not affect her reporting. How much about this does the public really need to know?

Fry really is good at the smut beat, isn't she?  She'll insist Martha wrote about 'racy' e-mails.  No, Martha's comments were about journalistic standards.

That's a topic apparently beyond the smut brain of sex-crazed Erika Fry who ignores the ethics to play up the sex ("blue balls," "booty calls," etc.).

At the end, Erika Fry wants you to know it doesn't matter because they got married.

It matters to journalism.  Nobody was reading Gina Chon's 'reporting' because she was f**king Brett McGurk.  In fact, that wasn't disclosed  (not even to her editor) when she was in Iraq.  They were reading it because it was supposed to be reporting.

But it turns out that the reporter had an undisclosed affair with a government official.  Had the affair been known in 2008, Gina Chon would have been reassigned.

That is a clear conflict of interest.

It's also a topic beyond the grasp of Fry.

Fry's far from the only one who's disgraced CJR in recent times.

For example, read Rhonda Roland Shearer's exhaustive expose "CJR Reporter Lying, Exploiting a Source? What's happening at Columbia Journalism Review?" from last December.

All we could say was, "Wow."

They print a story with one falsehood after another, destroy a woman and refuse to run corrections even though other media covering it -- based on their dishonest reporter -- will run corrections.  Their reporter lied to other reporters -- lied on the record.  Yet Brent Cunningham isn't bothered by that or anything else.

Columbia Journalism Review isn't about journalism.

It's about whoring, it's about lying.  And, as Rhonda Roland Shearer makes clear, it's about hurting people.

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