For the last two years, NPR has offered Newsweek/Daily Beast editor Tina Brown a monthly "Must Reads" feature on Morning Edition. Last week, she posed as the guardian of journalistic ideals as she trashed the late Andrew Breitbart (who "dropped dead," she sneered like a female Christopher Hitchens). So much for the sonorous civility of NPR, putting on this British-accented guttersnipe.
Does anyone at NPR want to suggest what Newsweek has done under Tina Brown is a crusade against the "degradation of journalistic ideals"? This was the last cover story, complete with a naked lady in a blindfold on the cover: "The Fantasy Life of Working Women: Why Surrender Is a Feminist Dream." It was a cover story on career women with sexual fantasies of wanting to be spanked!
"Spanking goes mainstream," was the website headline. It's like someone put a Newsweek cover on a Cosmopolitan.
Or as Brown described her trend-mulling in her "Periscope" editor's column, "dominant American women are now secretly fantazising about reverting to the sexually submissive role of Butterfly-era courtesans. This is one message, at least, of the startling success of the book Fifty Shades of Grey. Katie Roiphe terms E.L. James's novel this 'watered-down, skinny vanilla latte version of sadomasochism.'"
Come to think of it, that quote almost perfectly defines Newsweek's journalism since Tina Brown took it over.
Here's how Brown lectured Breitbart on NPR:
Well, of course, you know, during Hitler's Germany, there were 50 foreign correspondents for America in Berlin, which is an incredible index of the golden era of journalism. What we have, of course, in the era today with Andrew Breitbart, the blogger, the right-wing radical blogger who just recently dropped dead in the early 40s, was, of course, the absolute opposite.
It's really the degradation, in a sense, of the journalistic ideals of a William Shirer. It was the absolute opposite. Breitbart didn't report anything, really. What Breitbart did was he was a provocateur. He was a death by a thousand tweets. He, you know, was quite happy to take the flying soundbite, any soundbite, and misapply it in his context and create an absolute mayhem for the person concerned, like he did for poor Shirley Sherrod, who was the obscure official in the Agriculture Department. He gave the impression, by the cutting of her words in a tape that he released, that she was giving racially motivated financing decisions, when actually, she was doing the very opposite. So this was really using a kind of bastardization of journalism through the format of Web and tweeting and, you know, just simply using the Internet as a tool for activism.
Breitbart didn't include all the context of Sherrod's story of how she wanted to deny whites loans (but reconsidered). But after the edits, you could still find Sherrod running down whites who opposed ObamaCare in the Tea Party.
Here's one reason why NPR deeply enjoyed Tina Brown running down Breitbart, as the website had the decency to mention (a little revenge):
[Editor's note: Breitbart was closely associated with James O'Keefe, the conservative activist whose secret recordings led to the resignations of senior NPR officials in the spring of 2011.]