Journalism 101: Orwell Revisited

, Malcolm A. Kline, 2 Comments

Pity the poor journalism student: He, or she, has to keep up with so many ways to spin a story that it would make George Orwell dizzy.

“During Republican administrations they prided themselves on being ‘adversarial’ toward government, or at least toward the presidency,” the author Joe Sobran noted before he passed away. “They were actually much less adversarial toward Congress, which was more liberal than the presidency in those days.”

“Now things are different. The media have become much less critical of the presidency and much more critical of Congress. The reason is obvious: they see the presidency as liberalism’s last stronghold, while Congress has become relatively conservative.” [Arguably, relatively is a good word to describe Congressional “conservatism.”]

“Even more remarkable, the media have forsaken their posture of alienation and become patriotic. They accuse conservatives of being unpatriotic—the word they use is ‘anti-government.’ This is a little strange, since they sued to describe the same conservative as ‘superpartriotic.’”

Sobran offered these reflections in 1997 on the first Clinton Administration. Arguably, they apply today. Yet, between the two Democratic presidencies– when Republicans controlled both the White House and Congress, albeit rather ineffectually–we were told of the need to “speak truth to power.”

When was the last time you heard that?

The text of Mr. Sobran’s speech, which the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation released in a press conference last week, is available from FGF Books.