Jon Stewart takes a swipe at the media and their grave concern about why Rolling Stone's Michael Hastings got the access he did to Gen. McChrystal. Jason summed this up nicely over at the HuffPo.
Rolling Stone's digital media strategy aside, I'm a bit dumbstruck at the way the traditional media have treated the magazine's story on General Stanley McChrystal as some sort of flukey journalistic junkshot that no one could have possibly expected.
Chris Matthews, bless his stuck-in-the-1970s heart, was agog this past Tuesday that a beacon of the "counterculture" could have ever gained access to McChrystal. I sort of wondered why the traditional media couldn't have done more, with all of their access!
So I was glad to see that "The Daily Show" took up the matter last night, with Jon Stewart mocking these past few days, in which "America's finest reporters" have been beside themselves with wonder at how a Rolling Stone reporter pulled off "reporting." Quipped Stewart: "At approximately 11:04 Eastern Standard Time, the American news media finally realized they kind of sucked."
And as Jason pointed out Jay Rosen has a great piece up about how Politico accidentally told the truth about being more concerned about access than actual journalism and then pulled it from the post.
As everyone who pays attention to the news knows by now, an article appeared in Rolling Stone this week by freelance reporter Michael Hastings that wound up forcing the resignation of General Stanley A. McChrystal as commander of American troops in Afghanistan. Hastings had been invited to hang out with McChrystal and his staff and was witness to their contempt for the civilian side of the war effort, which he reported on. It was a shock to everyone in Washington that McChrystal would make such a blunder, and the press began immediately to dissect it.
The Politico was so hopped up about the story that it took the extraordinary step of posting on its site a PDF of Rolling Stone’s article because Rolling Stone had not put it online fast enough. In one of the many articles The Politico ran about the episode the following observation was made by reporters Gordon Lubold and Carol E. Lee:
McChrystal, an expert on counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, has long been thought to be uniquely qualified to lead in Afghanistan. But he is not known for being media savvy. Hastings, who has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for two years, according to the magazine, is not well-known within the Defense Department. And as a freelance reporter, Hastings would be considered a bigger risk to be given unfettered access, compared with a beat reporter, who would not risk burning bridges by publishing many of McChrystal’s remarks.
Now this seemed to several observers—and I was one—a reveal. Think about what the Politico is saying: an experienced beat reporter is less of a risk for a powerful figure like McChrystal because an experienced beat reporter would probably not want to “burn bridges” with key sources by telling the world what happens when those sources let their guard down. Read on...