21 May 2010

Journalists Protecting Their Own

In an otherwise ordinary article about how former Googlers in the Obama White House continue to talk with current Googlers, we have the following exchange:
In January, for instance, Google's vice president and "chief Internet evangelist" Vint Cerf anxiously wrote to McLaughlin about the worsening chances for net neutrality -- the notion that Internet Service Providers should be barred from favoring their own content or from offering "fast-lane" services to premium-paying customers. "Has there been so much flack from the Hill that you guys feel a need to back away" from a commitment?, asked Cerf, attaching a CNET article by a well-credentialed business consultant who was advancing that thesis.

"Don't be silly," McLaughlin responds. "No one's backed away from anything. . . . Isn't . . . the author of the article, an anti [net neutrality] zealot?"

"Yes, he is," Cerf wrote. "Just wanted to confirm he's full of biased baloney."

"Absolutely," McLaughlin replied.
If you go through the article, you will never see that name of the journalist in question, Declan McCullagh, who was best described as a "Draw by crayon libertarian," by the inestimable Andrew Orlowski of The Register.

I deduce it from the Clues, "CNET," "anti [net neutrality] zealot," and "Biased Baloney," if you are familiar with McCullagh's oeuvre.

What is almost certain is that if the principals in this story were talking about a statement by a lawyer given to over-the-top statements, (Geoff Feiger, for example) you would have seen the name in the story.

It's not in this story, because it is seen as inappropriate for a journalist to call out another journalist by name, even in the context of a quote someone else.

This attitude is corrosive to journalism.


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