ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT REPORTERS ARE NOT BRIGHT | 2004-04-03
I have been working with the media for well over forty years. I had a job with Voice of America when I was part of the media myself. I did a short stint as a University station broadcaster. But mostly I have had to deal with the media, in press conferences, on Capitol Hill, and as an Administration appointee. Almost everything I did involved the media.
First of all, bless their little hearts, reporters are NOT bright. Walter Cronkite is about as bright as Jerry Ford, and both of them got to the top the same way. They do not make anybody else feel inferior. They are non-threatening.
In "Why Johnny Can't Think, I describe a liberal as somebody who never outgrew his college education. A totally dependent person who makes it to national news anchor has to be noncreative and a good follower. Ford and Cronkite were perfect followers. So Cronkite is a liberal and Ford is a Republican moderate.
It couldn't be any other way..
For me, estimating press intelligent was one of the things I got paid for. Your press releases have to look smart to them if they are to get where you want them.
But not TOO smart.
So let us step back and see what a reporter actually is. Here is a person who spends his entire life trying to find five minutes ahead of everybody else what everybody on earth will know tomorrow morning. That's not much of life.
If you are not particularly bright, you will buy the idea that reporters see history in the making. Precisely the opposite is the case. To be a reporter, you have to be obsessed with the present. Reporters have no historical perspective at all. They write for other people who are obsessed with the present. They only mention any history that serves to make what they they are report sound like it's history.
The media not only doesn't know its history. It needs no memory at all. Its readers remember nothing.
See March 13, 2004 -- We Promise, You Forget
But reporters like to tell each other that they are reporting history as it happens. If you have to make your living dealing with them, you should make full use of this illusion. I often threw in a historical context that fit into a hundred words and made the present fad seem like a part of the Great Historical Context.
Most high-level media commentators do not know the difference between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. To write history for them, you have to know that.