Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Appropriately Named Fred Dicker...

Was involved in a confrontation with NY State Democratic Party Chair Herman "Denny" Farrell about Dicker's story on Farrell's girlfriend--it seems she and Farrell have a little bundle of joy coming, she's 30 years younger than Farrell, and they're not married! Heavens to Betsy!

Anyway, the exchange didn't make either of them look too good. But what I found really shocking was Dicker's self-defense of his reporting: that the story was newsworthy because Farrell was a public figure and, more specifically, "
an elected official in a (black) community that's been troubled with out-of-wedlock births."

Why the hell is Dicker playing the race card? Does he really think it's credible to suggest he wouldn't have run the story if it were a white State Democratic Party Chair having a baby out of wedlock? And in what universe is it acceptable for Albany's pre-eminent political writer to argue that a double standard for black politicians should be standard operating procedure in journalism? I don't know what's more offensive, the lying or the casual use of a completely racist argument. (Happy Martin Luther King Day, everyone! See how far we've come!)

Dicker is not the first political journalist to confuse the kind of reporter he thinks he is with the kind of reporter he really is. Dicker clearly wants to believe he's a serious journalist, who only reports on issues of profound social and/or political significance. However, this story shows that he's a reporter who at least occasionally descends into tabloid coverage of politicians. Reporting on love children isn't hard reporting--it's salacious gossip-mongering. It's entertainment news.

Dicker is Albany's top reporter, and he should start acting like it. This was his scoop, but it was a gossip scoop, not a news scoop. If he wants credit for the scoop, he has to take heat for the gossip. Tortured spin justifying the "newsworthiness" of gossip doesn't make journalists look better--it devalues true news, it makes the public suspicious of reporters' integrity, and it leads to insanities like Albany's top political reporter telling everyone it's OK to use different rules for white and black politicians. If political reporters are embarrassed they print gossip, they should stop doing it and kick it over to Page Six.

And for the record, I love Page Six. Do you think Angelina broke up Brad & Jen? Discuss in comments.


Post a Comment

<< Home