A fight broke out between New Media and Old Media on Fox News's Hannity program Wednesday that has the entire blogosphere abuzz.
When Fox News's Juan Williams, in the midst of a discussion about the national security leaks controversy, arrogantly told syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin, "I'm a real reporter, I am not a blogger," all hell broke loose (video follows with transcript and commentary, relevant section at minute 4:50):
MICHELLE MALKIN: Maybe Juan Williams could stick to the year 2012 for a second, David Sanger who's the New York Times' reporter who reported the story said, he said that the Obama administration explicitly did not stop him from running the story. It was clearly a strategic leak to aggrandize Obama at a time when he is been under fire for both the right, the left, the center. It's been a very bad week and very bad month for Barack Obama. These articles came out to fluff his feathers and make him look good at the expense of National Security. And all you can do Juan, is say Plame, Plame, Plame and blame, blame, blame, Bush, Bush, Bush.
JUAN WILLIAMS: Listen, I'll tell you what. I'll tell you what, Michelle, I'm a real reporter, I am not a blogger. Let me tell you something, the reporters go to officials and -- hang on, please. In a free society --
MALKIN: Right, because I'm not a real reporter.
WILLIAMS: And reporters go and talk to officials and that's not classified. In a free society, we want to know what the government's doing. We want to make decisions. Now, with regard to the stuff that Sean is talking about, when you look, for example at the cyber warfare effort, that's a constantly evolving thing. It's not been the case that nobody knows about it. Everybody has talked about it.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Juan, they gave us specific details.
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
MALKIN: Pardon me.
WILLIAMS: They didn't give them any classified information about it, Sean.
HANNITY: Sure, they did.
WILLIAMS: They simply discussed the fact that there is such an effort.
HANNITY: They talked about a secret program to undermine Iran's nuclear program using cyber weapons. That's what we're discussing. That's what he's reporting on.
WILLIAMS: Sean, that's why we discussed and reported in papers. What David Sanger did -- and I think David did a great job was to go to public officials, people who represent the American people --
HANNITY: They shouldn't talk about -- when you have people's lives in jeopardy, Juan. And I will give Michelle the last word. We will never get anybody to work with us because their lives will be put in jeopardy, if it means propping up this President or in the words of Michelle, you know, fluffing his feathers.
MALKIN: That's right. If I could just say something, the American people are sick of the kind of snotty condescension from liberal elite journalists like Juan Williams who tell us that the rest of us are not doing our jobs. When the point is, that on February 2nd, 2009, when Eric Holder was shamefully approved and nominated and approved to be Attorney General, he had already had a long record of bastardizing National Security and the rule of law. People like -- yes, exactly! And people like Joseph Connor whose father was murdered by an FALN terrorists and said at the time, and I quote, "Before this nomination, warning Republicans, that Eric holder did not have the judgment, value or characters to hold that office."
WILLIAMS: Michelle, you are way off topic.
MALKIN: And we have been proven right, even though we are not professional journalists.
HANNITY: We have to go.
MALKIN: That is the point. That is the central point.
WILLIAMS: Michelle, Michelle, you are way off topic. And you're not talking about what were debating here tonight on Sean's show. But I mean, if you look at Bush's war done by Bob Woodward.
HANNITY: I don't want to hear about that. We have to go. Juan, you got to have to accept the reality. Holder is finished. He will go.
WILLIAMS: You guys are angry at Holder.
HANNITY: He is incompetent.
WILLIAMS: This has nothing to do with classified information.
HANNITY: Mark my words. Holder is gone before Election Day, mark my words.
WILLIAMS: Yes. That's what your wish is. But I don't know that there is any basis for it.
HANNITY: I'll take that bet.
MALKIN: So, real journalists are apologists for corruptocracy. We got it.
HANNITY: Guys, thank you.
MALKIN: Thanks, Juan.
WILLIAMS: You're welcome.
Let's begin with Williams' arrogant statement, "I'm a real reporter, I am not a blogger."
Here's how Williams is described in his Fox News bio:
He currently serves as a Fox News political analyst, a regular panelist on Fox Broadcasting's Sunday morning public affairs program, "Fox News Sunday," as well as the weekday political newscast, "Special Report with Bret Baier," and as a regular substitute host for "The O'Reilly Factor."
As such, in his current role, Williams is a political analyst and commentator. He is not a "reporter" "real" or otherwise.
Prior to working for FNC full-time, Williams was a senior news analyst with NPR from 1999 to October 2010.
That means Williams has been analyzing and commenting on the news rather than digging it up and reporting it for at least the last thirteen years. He should therefore be careful stepping down from that high horse.
With that as pretext, there can of course be differences between bloggers and reporters. As Ed Morrissey observed Thursday:
A field reporter can be out working all day long and end up with nothing more than a few paragraphs on an uneventful campaign event, which is why news organizations have to have so many reporters on staff (or at least in a free-lance arrangement), or subscribe to wire services to generate saleable content. I’ve met a number of fine field reporters on my few forays into the primary campaign this year, people like Jake Tapper, Jackie Kucinich, Olivier Knox, and more who try to get the facts into their reports regardless of who they help or hurt; we know more, like Sharyl Attkisson of CBS, from their work alone. (I’ve met a jerk or two as well, but they’re thankfully rare.) It’s tough work, and as bloggers we rely on them to form the basis of our opinion journalism. And Williams does have a point in that bloggers too often don’t pick up the phone to get statements from officials on their own to learn the other side of a story, if one exists.
Indeed. But Williams' condescension was misplaced in two ways.
First, Malkin has been a columnist since 1992 and is deserving of far more respect than Juan accorded her Wednesday evening.
Jeffrey Lord wrote at the American Spectator shortly after the incident that Williams owes Malkin an apology for his behavior. I quite agree.
Has Williams forgotten that It was conservative bloggers that came to his defense in October 2010 when he was terminated by NPR for comments he made about the fear he experiences when he sees folks dressed in Muslim garb at airports?
When the Old Media sold him down the river for these remarks along with his former employer, it was conservative bloggers like yours truly that were standing behind him.
It's quite possible that his full-time employment and rather generous contract offer from Fox News after this incident were a result of the support he got from those he so arrogantly castigated Wednesday.
Maybe he should consider that.
More importantly, Williams should recognize the critical role bloggers now play in journalism, and not cast them aside as so much garbage.
The list of stories broken by bloggers in the past ten years is too lengthy to list here but would certainly include things like Dan Rather's MemoGate and the corruption at ACORN.
A top story in the news today is next week's vote in the House regarding contempt charges against Attorney General Eric Holder regarding his handling of the covert Mexican guns mission Fast and Furious.
As this has largely been ignored by the mainstream media, one could make the case that the only reason such scrutiny has been brought upon this failed mission and Holder is because of the tireless work of conservative bloggers to bring this matter into the sunlight.
Maybe that's why folks like Williams have such disdain for bloggers, as it seems the best work done by the New Media is in exposing liberal misconduct the Old Media would rather bury.
We at NewsBusters have come to Williams' defense when we felt it was warranted, but in this instance, his behavior was truly lacking in character and judgment.
He could do better - A LOT better.