Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher has had his 15 minutes of fame, capping it off with an unplanned appearance as the poster boy of populist tax policy in last night’s presidential debate. So now it’s time for the press to turn its sights on him not as a human-interest story but as an investigative subject.
Jonathan Martin of The Politico was among the first out of the gate, with blog posts noting that Wurzelbacher, affectionately known by most of America as “Joe The Plumber,” has a tax lien against him and doesn’t have a plumber’s license. Martin conveniently forgot to mention that the law doesn’t require one.) Bloomberg also has a story on the tax lien, and AP and The Washington Post did their part to make a story out of the “unlicensed” non-story.
Expect more of the same over coming days. In fact, don’t be surprised if all of those investigative reporters sent to Alaska after John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate suddenly get reassigned to the plumber beat in flyover country. Joe The Plumber must be discredited at all costs!
The impulse to learn more about Wurzelbacher is perfectly normal. Readers and viewers are no doubt want to know more about the man now that he is all over the news. I know I do. And speaking as a journalist, let me add that reporters should be curious enough to do some basic background research.
But why is it that political reporters only get curious when a conservative Joe America storms onto the scene? Why aren’t they just as curious when liberals trot out, say, a 12-year-old boy to give a national radio address?
It has been almost a year to the day since journalists dropped the ball on telling America more about Graeme Frost, the boy who made the case for sinking billions of dollars more into the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. But when Michelle Malkin and other curious conservative bloggers did the legwork the press wouldn’t, they earned the scorn of their mainstream colleagues.
This time around, with Joe The Plumber as their target, the MSM is coming out with guns blazing. Maybe they should spend more time telling the bigger story about Wurzelbacher -- that he managed to get Obama on the public record as favoring a socialistic redistribution of wealth.
Cross-posted at Video Done Right