I saw the movie "Thank You For Smoking" the other night. Mr. Stapler and I got some good laughs and I thought Aaron Eckhart was spot-on as the morally blank tobacco lobbyist Nick Naylor.
But one thing pissed me off baad about the movie. Katie Holmes (yes, whackjob Scientologist Baby Mama Katie Holmes) plays a young journalist who lets the subject of a profile buy her an expensive dinner (including a bottle of '82 Chateau Margaux ($950 retail).
Then she takes him home and screws his brain out and develops a love relationship with him. Then, having weaseled all of his secrets out of him she writes a hatchet-job article.
Yeah, she's just a character. Yeah, everyone in the film is morally bankrupt. But gimme a break. The sleazy movie journalist is becoming as big a cliche as the hooker with a heart of gold.
I feel compelled to defend Journalism - The Profession That Would Be My Chosen Profession if Only the Pay Did Not Suck Quite So Much.
The right-wing media, protectors of the rich and powerful, loves to tell us about how terrible and biased the media is (huh?) The ruling elite certainly have a vested interest in having people not believe the media. The media is the ONLY thing that has a chance to make a dent in their armor of absolute control over everything.
The Society for Professional Journalists Code of Ethics is a beautiful thing. It's important to journalists. Journalists talk about ethics at work all the time at work, probably more than any other profession except maybe the clergy.
When I work as a reporter, I won't let anyone give me anything more valuable than a glass of water. Would I love some '82 Chateau Margaux? I salivate at the thought. Would I love a romp with Aaron Eckhart? Sure. Would I ever go there for a story? No way. No freaking way. Especially since I would be ethically bound to reveal to my readers that I had gotten drunk on $1000 wine and boinked him (Hi, Mom!).
As a journalist all you have is your little notepad and your pen and your reputation. Once you screw that up, you are screwed forever.
Here's a story I heard from a fellow writer today. One of the editors of his publication was found to be using press credentials to get into expensive sporting events that he was not covering. The staff found out and threw a fit. They had a huge meeting. They went to the publisher. There were people crying. They are demanding he get fired. And he had better get fired. THAT's how important this stuff is, and how important it should be.
A free press is the only thing that stands between us and fascism. That's why the founding fathers put it in the FIRST amendment.
I am a true believer. This stuff brings a tear to my eye:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.