Harvest of Shame Indeed
Chilling lowlight of the program: Charles Bobrinskoy, chairman of a financial company that is one of the largest stockholders in the Tribune Company--a man who fancies himself an expert in matters of journalism because some of his stocks say "newspaper" on them--issuing the pronouncement that the L.A. Times (a paper that's won 13 Pulitzer Prizes in recent years, and that the Tribune Company now owns) doesn't need to concern itself with covering such national and international issues as the Iraq war. Three papers alone should cover something like Iraq, according to Bobrinskoy: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. The L.A. Times (and, by extrapolation, all other metro papers, save those three biggies) would better serve readers by closing up shop on national and international issues. Yes, if the past few years have taught us anything it's that we would have all been better off if reporters nationwide had just handed the keys to Judy Miller for pre-war coverage and focused on potholes and Little League. Or that we definitely wouldn't have a problem if we all relied exclusively on the newspaper that devotes space on the front page to illuminating such newsworthy topics as "Where the dog sleeps"* and "Joint pain by gender" for our coverage of the Bush administration. Coming from anyone else, this sentiment would have been merely laughable. Coming from one of the guys who now has a say in journalism because of his money, it was terrifying.
It would have been the most disheartening thing I watched all night if we hadn't switched over afterward to Bob Woodruff's special on soldiers who suffer traumatic brain injuries, "To Iraq and Back." It was unspeakably sad, and, as with The Washington Post's superlative investigation last week on the inexcusable conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, absolutely maddening to see the near-criminal negligence of our government when it comes to providing for wounded soldiers.
*42% in the bed, according to these Edward R. Murrows of the new millenium!