Sunday, September 12, 2004

When I was a child in the 70's, one of the first movies I can recall seeing was "Serpico". That movie was a dramatisation of a real person and event, one brave cop who exposed the corruption inside the NYPD of the 1960's. Dirty cops was a popular theme of the time (indeed, this theme continues to this day), and one of the big issues was about how the vast majority of even the honest cops would refuse to "rat" out the dishonest ones. They even had a term for it, "the blue wall of silence".

These movies usually followed the Serpico storyline: the protagonist was the one cop honest enough to tell the truth - ON THE RECORD - about the bad apples in the police force.

So my question is, when will the news media's Serpico emerge? I don't think that Bernie Goldberg qualifies, though I appreciate what he did.

When will Powerline's anonymous source about the AP's "booing" fiasco come forward publically to accuse Scott Lindlaw of his misdeeds?

When will someone like the Daily Telegraph's Toby Harnden actually name names regarding the blatant bias shown by some mysterious "American magazine journalist of serious accomplishment and impeccable liberal credentials."

Or is it too much to ask of the NYT' John Burns' otherwise excellent piece on Big Media corruption to NAME THE REPORTER here:

In one case, a correspondent actually went to the Internet Center at the Al-Rashid Hotel and printed out copies of his and other people's stories -- mine included -- specifically in order to be able to show the difference between himself and the others. He wanted to show what a good boy he was compared to this enemy of the state. He was with a major American newspaper. . . .

Look at the fear that these reporters labor under if they should break the "newsman's wall of silence":

I work as a freelancer for a major national publication, and was talking to my editor as we were closing a piece last week. It was Thursday, and the reports were coming out of Pakistan that we might have Ayman al-Zawahiri surrounded. I passed this news on to the editor, who was crestfallen: "Oh, no. I don't want anything good to happen for Bush before the election," was the reaction (P.S., this editor does not edit foreign or political stories).

It was a sickening moment. This is a man responsible for thousands of American deaths. So while I have no desire to see Bush re-elected, and I disagree with our attack on Iraq, to hope for our failure in capturing one of the deadliest people in the world is a moral blindspot.

This was followed up with:

A word of thanks for leaving my name out of that post.

Realized after I sent the email that if my name were posted it might easily make its way back to the editor. I'm barely making enough money at the journalism thing as it is... the last thing I need is to be blacklisted.

Isn't there any reporter who has the integrity to come forward, and name names? A reporters' very JOB is to report the truth as best they are able. Serpico was willing to risk his life to tell the truth. And what are they risking? In that last case, just a job that barely pays the bills.

Yet the "Newsman's Wall of Silence" stands undisturbed.