On Mike Stark's Shameful Treatment

Ore : 8:23 AM

Duncan is right to reduce Chris Graham to the epithet "Wanker of the day"; Stark was correct in his sharp assessment of exactly how Graham had mischaracterized his actions and the situation as a whole. Moreover, this story amalgamates several interesting and hot-button elements: it is a salient example of typical, modern liberal/left-of-center criticism of professional news people and organizations; it has a journalist essentially using credentialism to try and crush a work-a-day citizen in defense of the rich and powerful; it has that reporter getting caught in a lie and responding, almost ad hominem, with what seems like the too often-seen, visceral, almost allergic reaction to being dragged into a meta-discussion -- into an opportunity for self-examination and evaluation.

But with apologies to Stark, there is something in the final analysis he (understandably -- I'm not sure I could have been as level-headed and civil at the end of this as he proved to be) and Duncan missed. Stark in his diary all-too-forgivingly refuses to characterize Graham's story as "particularly malicious." To be sure, he's right that it's not a hit piece, but the malice is there; it is subtle and off-hand in the original, and becomes much more glaring in Graham's subsequent no-a culpa. Allow me to illustrate with a couple of very telling passages from Graham's response to Stark's request for corrections (any emphases mine):

You can quibble over whether or not it was paid for by federal dollars, but the fact is that George Allen was in town to promote his campaign for re-election to the United States Senate.

Shorter: "You're probably right, but your citizenship means nothing compared to my press pass."

From the perspective of an eyewitness, namely, me, you were clearly interrupting something. Allen's "campaign goon," as you call him, David Snepp, had informed members of the local news media (from newspapers located in Staunton and Waynesboro, a TV station in Charlottesville and a Harrisonburg station in Harrisonburg) that Sen. Allen would be available for questions after the event and asked us to set up at an area adjacent to a backdoor where the senator could exit the hotel after talking with us.

Then he informed us that the senator was coming our way and that we would have several minutes to ask questions as you made your way to begin your own Q and A session.

Shorter: "As I was there representing the corporation I own and you were there representing concerned constituents, there was a wall between us that you were very presumptuous to breach."

I'm pretty sure that I still know what the definition of "interrupted" is from grade school - and this easily meets the definition.

Shorter: "You have the brain of a very slow 1st grader."

Your resistance to the overtures from the senator and Mr. Snepp to allow the senator to proceed with the Q and A session that had been prearranged - obviously outside of your realm of knowledge - with members of the local media was also "combative."

Shorter: "The fact that I was there for a paycheck undermines your credibility."

Again, Mike Stark is awfully civil and forgiving in the face of what I can see only as blistering, overweening arrogance. The response to his request for corrections was, with 1.5 exceptions, one long sneer couched in a few cautious, PR-aware phrases. The insults to his intelligence and love of the democratic process continue right on to the end, where Graham all but calls Stark a liar for implying that too few in the media wanted to talk about the whole "noose and stars-and-bars" thing, even though the former does not deign to provide the latter with even one example of a reporter bringing the subject up. Well, I for one can provide an example of
someone who should have.

(As an aside, I think we can all be reasonably sure that those were Republicans/libertarians/independent conservatives who coined the term "citizen journalist" -- I can't imagine any prominent liberals being so self-aggrandizing in labeling their analyses and searches for truth. I'd really like to hear the Malkin/Hewitt/Reynolds take on this little kerfuffle.)

Mike Stark's vigilance and forbearance are a great tribute to the people of Virginia, to the USMC he served IIRC for several years, and to that lovely tradition of Southern politeness. Too few of us understand just what it takes to be responsible Americans, and we need more examples like him -- and more people to stand up for the Mike Starks of the world who are always getting smacked down like this.

Anyway, I for one am no Mike Stark. I'm not as intelligent, nor as brave. I'm no noble citizen journalist; I'm just an asshole with a blogspot account. I'm kind of mean and stupid, really, so all I have to offer Graham is this: Eat it, you
unctuous little gutterwhore. Don't get me wrong: it's great that you're independent -- you know, pimp-free -- it's to be applauded that you're able to walk the ho stroll with your head held high. But maybe you ought to have an ombudsman.

Yeah, him. ;-P)

posted by teh l4m3 at 8:23 AM | Permalink |

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Comments for On Mike Stark's Shameful Treatment
I think the arrogance of Graham's reply is what struck me the most. It's as though he feels his press pass is some kind of affirmation of professional standards. Just as, in my profession, there are CPA's who couldn't count to ten with both hands free, there are members of the journalist profession, like Graham, who just aren't all that competent. From a journalist perspective, Stark did the superior work and I think that's what needles Graham the most.

Oh, and nice of you to throw Atrios a bone like that. Laboring in obscurity as he does must be tough; a little wider recognition is certainly deserved...

It's about control of language. The nouns in the story are all correct.

its the verbs and the adjectives. They're all screwed up.

It's like you're now a journalist if you can master the use of Proper Nouns.

Journalists now get to modify those nouns freely, because they are all that count anymore.

Wanker indeed.


ss: Yeah, well I guess that's what's one of the most galling things about this story: a little guy trying to squish an even smaller guy. As for Atrios: ha, yeah. And to think, I stole that ranch dressing truck from fatrobot without giving him credit. I'm evil!

mdhatter: No kidding. If this guy was any kind of serious newsman, he would have dropped the attitude (and everything else) just to hire Stark before someone else snaps him up!

Atrios let's you call him Duncan?

gregor: what's he gonna do, stop me? HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

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