There’s a great exchange between Chris Matthews and The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza towards the end of this clip:
Lizza has the audacity to suggest that it’s the journalist’s job not only to “report” on the “controversy,” regarding Obama’s pastor, but to actually inform viewers that these guys are actually different people. Lizza says, “If Barack Obama had said it, he’d be out of this race. I don’t remember him saying it. A guy who was his ex-pastor said it, Chris.”
Needless to say, Matthews is dumbfounded. He genuinely thinks that the job of the media is to just mindlessly parrot the “controversy” and not actually ascertain any facts about it.
Part of the problem here is that Matthews seems to have an outdated view of his role in the media ecosystem. He still holds on to the quaint notion that informing the public about the issues is being taken care of somewhere else in the ecosystem — the nightly news perhaps. Increasingly, though, Matthews is the ecosystem, at least in terms of reporting on national government politics and policy. He’s on the NBC morning shows, the Sunday shows, the nightly news. In other words: they’re all pundits now. They’re all talking about the horserace, the meta-narrative, etc. No one’s actually minding the store!
[And to make matters worse, you’ve got nattering bloggers like me commenting on Matthews. I’ts meta-meta-narrative!]
That’s not to say we don’t have any good reporters in this country. Dana Priest and Dexter Filkins are doing yeoman’s work trying to keep some semblance of the fourth estate stitched together. But they get drowned out by Matthews’ loud, rambling voice.