Wednesday, June 01, 2005

 

Boomer Reveries...

As The Boss once said:

Now I think I'm going down to the well tonight
and I'm going to drink till I get my fill
And I hope when I get old I don't sit around thinking about it
but I probably will
Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
a little of the glory of, well time slips away
and leaves you with nothing mister but
boring stories of glory days

Glory days well they'll pass you by
Glory days in the wink of a young girl's eye
Glory days, glory days

Glory days well they'll pass you by
Glory days in the wink of a young girl's eye
Glory days, glory days


With Deep Throat everywhere today, we are presented with both an institutional/generational navel-gazing orgy. The mainstream media gets to indulge in pat self-satisfaction on the last BIG story where there were clear good guys (the press) and bad guys (the Nixon White House).

Watergate was the Baby Boomer Big Media's World War II -- a black and white story where second-guessing over ethics, plagiarism and bias -- the major media sins of today didn't have to be entertained, let alone confronted. Woodward and Bernstein (as the years go by, doesn't Carl Berstein increasingly seem like an "Oates" to Woodward's "Hall", if not an "Andrew Ridgely" to Woodward's "George Michael"?) became Boomer gods on earth who cast out the "evil" GI president who had long offended their generation's sensibilities.

Yes, Richard Nixon's administration did commit some real crimes. But the fallout of Watergate was the birth of "Gotcha!" journalism, where the occupant of the White House was considered suspect from the minute he entered office -- perhaps even before. The media could do no wrong; the politicians could do no good. W. Mark Felt, the ultimate anonymous source, appears just in time to partly vindicate an industry (NOT an "institution") rocked most recently by the Newsweek retraction. (However, it's rather ironic that "Deep Throat" turned out to be a member of that same GI generation and decided to exult in some of the glory himself while still alive. The Felt/Vanity Fair revelation upset the timing on Woodward's already-in-production DP memoir.)

The Times' description of The Washington Post's newsroom -- as Woodward, Bernstein and Ben Bradlee emerged from a meeting to determine how the Post would cover being scooped on the story that they had practically owned for three decades -- was as if Zeus and the Greek Pantheon had descended from Olympus: "Around 6:30 p.m., Mr. Woodward emerged from his office with Mr. Bernstein and with Mr. Bradlee nearby, creating a tableau of the old days when they helped to bring down a president. The scene left many in The Post's fifth-floor newsroom to stare as a photographer took pictures." Can we possibly get any more post-modern? Big News Entity A covers Big News Entity B to get B's reaction over Smaller News Entity C's scoop of B's 30-year old no-longer-anonymous source.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court's 9-0 "Oops! Your bad" to the Justice Department gets nice coverage, but a shrug from the commentariat. A once-respected accounting firm gets "exonerated" on a "technicality" -- even after it has been subjected to the death penalty -- with some potential serious ramifications for defendant privacy rights. Great story, right?

Shhhh!!! Please don't bother the media. For one thing, that's a scandal story about Boomers Doing Badly, not Behaving Heroically!! More importantly though, thirty years down the road, they're too busy trying "to recapture a little of the glory of, well time slips away and leaves you with nothing mister but boring stories of glory days."

UPDATE: Yes, it should read "Yes, Richard Nixon's administration did commit some real crimes." Now corrected.

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