Routinely accused of delivering a bias, no matter which political party is in charge, or living in a bubble of rarified air, the Washington Press Corps have routinely been the object of speculation, ridicule and hostility ever since there was such a thing as a Washington Press Corps.
In this episode of NPR’s National Town Meeting, the subject is an appraisal of the Washington Press Corps, as it stood in 1975. 1975 was the year after the tumultuous Watergate era and the demise of the Nixon Presidency. Nixon supporters blamed the media, the so-called “liberal Press” as the ones largely responsible for bringing the Watergate scandal to light. Blame is one thing, but facts are another. And the facts surrounding the Watergate scandal were enough to bring shock and dismay to an entire nation – liberal or not. The press were there, as they alway were and always are, to confirm rumors, get background and to be objective in the face of what may turn out to be unpleasant truths.
Speaking as current and former members of the Press in 1975 were Elie Abel, himself a distinguished reporter of many years, who got his start in newspapers and went on to a successful career at NBC News. And James Bellows, one of the legendary figures in American journalism of the 20th century. Bellows had been credited with the inspiration and nurture of many leading writers of the New Journalism during the 1960s and 1970s.
Together they offered a fascinating, but by no means unique glimpse, into the Washington Press Corps, the nature of Political reporting and the affect it has had on the audience it serves.
Many have decried the nature of Journalism in 2018 – the info-tainment aspect of news, as opposed to straight reporting. The fault may lie in the avenues available to the press as opposed to the methods or professionalism of the press itself. But you get an idea the criticisms and issues the Press have faced over the years are pretty much the same as they’ve always been. Reporting politics is, in many ways, a no-win situation. And digging in your feet and keeping your head down seem to be the only way of coping, just as it’s always been.
Here is that episode of NPR’s National Town Meeting for September17, 1975 – Appraising The Washington Press Corps.