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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 10:34 AM ET, 02/23/2012

Media news derivatives: Feb. 23

In case you missed it — Another debate, another swipe at the “elite media” by media critic at-large Newt Gingrich.

Elsewhere:

*Jake Tapper of ABC News confronts White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. The issue? Praising fallen foreign correspondents. After Carney commemorated Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik, who died in Syria on Tuesday night, Tapper saw an opening: Why does the administration care so deeply about foreign reporting — it also said suitably nice things about the late New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid last week — at the same time that it’s pursuing so many leak investigations.

TAPPER: The White House keeps praising these journalists who are — who’ve been killed —
CARNEY: I don’t know about “keep” — I think —
TAPPER: You’ve done it, Vice President Biden did it in a statement. How does that square with the fact that this administration has been so aggressively trying to stop aggressive journalism in the United States by using the Espionage Act to take whistleblowers to court?
You’re — currently I think that you’ve invoked it the sixth time, and before the Obama administration, it had only been used three times in history. You’re — this is the sixth time you’re suing a CIA officer for allegedly providing information in 2009 about CIA torture. Certainly that’s something that’s in the public interest of the United States. The administration is taking this person to court. There just seems to be disconnect here. You want aggressive journalism abroad; you just don’t want it in the United States.
CARNEY: Well, I would hesitate to speak to any particular case, for obvious reasons, and I would refer you to the Department of Justice for more on that.

Last week, I defended the White House for its tribute to Shadid and diminished concerns that it should remain mum on the work of journalists, even deceased ones. Seems appropriate that our country’s chief executive should credit the work of people who sacrifice so much.

As for the linkage that Tapper establishes in the press briefing, well, that’s phenomenal political theater — it’s fun to see how the press secretary tries to shoo away the comparison. Carney & Co. should be pressed at every turn on why this administration has so aggressively pursued leakers in the courts. Tough questions on that issue, however, can just as easily be posed on their own, without being tied to the quite legitimate praise of journalistic heroes.

*Marie Colvin’s mother tells the New York Times how the intrepid foreign correspondent was close to leaving the country over safety concerns.

Ms. Colvin said it was pointless to try to dissuade her daughter from going to conflict zones.
“If you knew my daughter,” she said, “it would have been such a waste of words. It just wasn’t something that would even be on the plate at all. She was determined, she was passionate about what she did, it was her life. There was no saying ‘Don’t do this.’ This is who she was, absolutely who she was and what she believed in: cover the story, not just have pictures of it, but bring it to life in the deepest way you could.”

Meanwhile, French paper Le Figaro is trying to contact a journalist who was injured in the hostilities.

*”Uhh, no.” That’s how Bill Keller responded to a question from Peter Beinart on whether the former executive editor of the New York Times would sit down for a segment with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. Keller’s reason for staying away from that particular hot seat was, as you might expect, filled with deep thinking:

“I don’t take well to being shouted at,” said Keller. “Once you’ve established that you’re brave enough to go and stand up to Bill O’Reilly, you’re basically, you know, you’re the Christian in the ‘lions versus the Christians’ arena, and where’s the satisfaction in that?”

It’s unclear whether Keller meant to take a shot at long-established journalistic conventions when he made the following remark about working these days as an opinions writer for the Times:

“For me, it was not so much liberating that, now I can have opinions,” he said. “It’s liberating that when I have opinions, I can say them.”

*Nancy Pelosi said her decision to break her pledge never to show up on the set of “The Colbert Report” stems from her “Lenten resolution to do good works, be kind to Republicans.”

*Mediaite asks economists which editorials they trust more: Those of the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. The result? A 55 percent to 41 percent victory for the New York Times.

By  |  10:34 AM ET, 02/23/2012

Tags:  abc news, jake tapper, white house, anthony shadid, new york times, newt gingrich, bill keller, le figaro

 
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