What’s Wrong With Political Reporting & Blogs

In my first bloggish post, I take a pot shot at blogs and the sorry state of reporting on politics. As readers have no way of avoiding, there’s a presidential campaign on. I can barely read most of the coverage. Today, my negative example is the hubbub over whether Hillary Rodham Clinton tipped an Iowa waitress, first reported by National Public Radio. Seems Anita Esterday, a waitress in a Toledo, Iowa restaurant, mentioned not getting a tip after Mrs. Clinton and her entourage ate there. Now, people lacking refined journalism sense (insert tongue in cheek) might suppose that either the candidate or some member of her crew meant to tip the lady, but some error on somebody’s part deprived the hard-working single mom of her well-earned tip, end of story. But not in NewsLand!

No, the Tale of the Missing Tip morphed into the millionth tempest in a teapot of an already too-long campaign. The blogosphere, always ready to apply nuclear heat to the teapot, cooked up The Hillary the Cheapskate and Hillary The Exploiter mini-scandal. For instance, look at Propeller, or that pillar of journalistic integrity, The Drudge Report, which dredged up another example of Mrs. Clinton’s alleged chintziness. The Big Dog offers a long list of other stories/blogs on this story.

But Esterday herself had the best take on this idiocy, as reported in the New York Times: ““You people are really nuts,” she told a reporter during a phone interview. “There’s kids dying in the war, the price of oil right now — there’s better things in this world to be thinking about than who served Hillary Clinton at Maid-Rite and who got a tip and who didn’t get a tip.”

I’m now soliciting donations to establish the Anita Esterday School of Journalism at whichever university wishes to host it.

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