I don't know if it's because of the fits that mainstream journalists are having about it (Tobin Harshaw in the New York Times is the latest, citing the Still Angry About Hillary Taylor Marsh as an unimpeachable source), though I suspect that has something to do with it. These are people trapped in a dying industry; an industry dying of largely self-inflicted wounds. It was one thing when journalists could legitimately pat themselves on the back for breaking actual stories. Bob Woodward may be a shameless hack now, but at one time, he and Carl Bernstein broke the kind of story that journalists today would be afraid to touch and made a generation of young people want to be journalists. The problem is that journalism, particularly Washington journalism, forgot what its job was -- to report the news and to keep the feet of politicians to the fire and keep them honest. We'll report what you do, said journalists, but if you fuck up or you betray the public trust, we will pillory you just as you deserve.
Something happened along the way. Journalists were invited into the corridors of power and decided they liked it there. Sally Quinn, who married Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, held parties that were the toast of Washington, and she decided early on that the Clintons weren't her kind of people, so the press did her bidding. David Gregory danced with Karl Rove at a Washington dinner and later on became the moderator of the once-venerable Meet the Press. But it wasn't just WaPo or television networks owned by defense contractors, or even Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. The New York Times ran a story about how the Clintons lost money in a land deal, and next thing you know, the paper is at the forefront of what will go down in history as the biggest partisan witch hunt ever perpetrated on a president. Judith Miller schmoozed with Scooter Libby, and soon the front page of the New York Times was carrying the Bush Administration's water on the false claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Howard Dean dares to run for president, and Times reporter Jodi Wilgoren makes it her business to bring him down.
If journalism hadn't completely blown its credibility on stories like Whitewater and Gary Condit and shark attacks, while carrying the Bush Junta's water on Iraq, a bunch of people in bathrobes making use of this new technology called the Internet couldn't have replaced the increasing triviality and utter horseshit dished up by so-called news outlets.
Jason Linkins over at That Thing Arianna Huffington Publishes That No One Reads has been documenting the roots of this rally. He cites Jon Stewart's first broadcast after the 9/11 attacks:
...noting, quite accurately in my opinion:
...when I watched this again, after so many years, I couldn't help but think that maybe someone has recently stolen this segment, stripped it of its sincerity, and turned it into self-serving schtick. Maybe someone should go and steal it back.
I kind of disagree, though. This rally isn't about gaining political power, it's about a five-foot-six-inch Jewish comedian and a Catholic sunday school teacher from Montclair, New Jersey, who have been having to do the job that people they once believed, and want to believe again, are their betters. Those people aren't the politicians, however. The people who are going to be made fun of today aren't easy targets like Louie Gohmert and Christine O'Donnell and Sarah Palin and Sharron Angle. That's like shooting fish in a barrel. I think what you're going to see is more along the lines of the TRUE roots of this rally: