When ‘Paranoia’ Makes Journalists Ask Questions

A personal footnote to the Troy Eid story: Eid lived next door to me in my senior year of college. He seemed like a nice guy, and was editor of the school paper, which is why I was surprised that the first thing I heard about him in more than 20 years was that he was a U.S. attorney writing this op-ed in the Denver Post. It’s a screed against bloggers, and against traditional journalists who get “so many of their story leads from anonymous Internet scribblers whose veracity and competency cannot by definition be verified.”

Eid’s complaint about what he calls “Blog Nation” is that after his office declined to prosecute a group of alleged anti-Obama plotters for making threats, bloggers raised questions about his decision, failing to take it for granted that Eid was using his best ethical judgment.

And then, in a demonstration of what Eid calls “the paranoia of our times”:

Major news outlets contacted us, cited the blog reports, repeated their where-there’s-smoke-there-must-be-fire allegations, and demanded I deny them. These were many of the same reporters who had participated in our press conference just hours before.

Even though they had just been told the official story, journalists still had the nerve to ask questions–questions suggested by bloggers! Where could they have gotten the paranoid idea that decisions made in the Bush Justice Department might be politicized?

For another oddball Republican view of how a free press is supposed to work, here’s Sarah Palin:

If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations…then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.