Joe the Plumber becomes Joe the Media; Update: Roggio unimpressed
posted at 11:36 am on January 12, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
First, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher arrived in American politics to make redistributionism clear, although in the end, not even Joe the Plumber could knock Barack Obama off his stride for long. Now Joe has arrived in Israel as a Pajamas Media reporter on the war, and he wasted no time in delivering instructions to the media in Sderot on how to perform that job. But does Joe understand it himself?
Samuel Wurzelbacher of Ohio, aka Joe the Plumber, arrived in Sderot at noon Sunday to show local and foreign reporters how to do it right.
“You should be ashamed of yourself,” he told foreign reporters.
“You should be patriotic, protect your family and children, not report like you have been doing for the past two weeks since this war has started,” he said. …
The people of Sderot “can’t do normal things day to day,” like get soap in their eyes in the shower, for fear a rocket might come in, Wurzelbacher said. “I’m sure they’re taking quick showers. I know I would.”
He also wondered why Israel waited so long to act. “I know if I were a citizen here, I’d be damned upset.” He described himself as a “peaceloving man,” but added, “when someone hits me, I’m going to unload on the boy. And if the rest of the world doesn’t understand that, then I’m sorry.”
The global media gets no sympathy from me. Instead of reporting objectively, too many of them seem interested in passing along badly-made Hamas propaganda (CNN and BBC) than to exercise some sort of editorial control over their own content. In their world, Israel is perpetually the aggressor and the terrorists perpetually the victim. Therefore, Hamas propaganda suits their purposes and gets no real review before going on the air — twice.
On the other hand, Joe seems ready to make the same mistake that the MSM does, which is picking sides rather than reporting. He’s made it clear that his mission is to tell the Israeli side, which is unfortunately badly needed at this stage. At least he’s honest about that, but it doesn’t make him that much better than his mainstream media peers. If they announced that they felt a duty to report the Palestinian side of the conflict because they genuinely believe that Israel is the aggressor, would that make their reporting any more objective or truthful? Not really.
What this conflict needs is disinterested, dispassionate reporting, a historical record that doesn’t rely on terrorist propagandists nor on “patriotic” reports from the front. Joe the Plumber may make a fine columnist or opinion journalist — we’ll see when he begins filing regular reports — but his entirely legitimate criticism of the mainstream global media will apply to himself as well if he declares that he will deliver “patriotic” reports on behalf of Israel. At least we’ll get a little bit of balance for the next two weeks. (via Michelle)
Update: In a column for Pajamas Media, Jazz Shaw wonders what PJM was thinking.
Update II: Actual war correspondent Bill Roggio is unimpressed, too:
[I]f Joe’s spent any real time with the military, he’d know they typically don’t want reporters to cheerlead for them. In my experience, all the troops on the ground want is a fair shake (senior commanders may or may not want such candor). If something is working, they want you to tell that story, and if something is going wrong, they want that story out there too. One reason for the latter is that often the media can serve as a back door to get some problems fixed that the chain of command may be ignoring.
Finally, Joe is advocating a 1940′s media strategy for wars that are being fought in the 21st Century. We can’t roll back the mass access to print, television, the Internet, cell phones, etc. and push the news on grainy films at the theater.
The real irony here is that PJTV, a 21st Century, Internet-based news organization is sending a reporter–who doesn’t want reporters to report on war–to report on a war. And apparently Joe would love to return to the days when the news was influenced by the government and seen at the theater.
I think Bill has this correct. We need more honest reporting and less slanted propaganda. Bill, Michael Yon, Michael Totten, and Bill Ardolino manage to do the former — and we’re grateful for it. Joe should set his sights higher.
Update III: JD Johannes, another tested war correspondent, finds himself rooting for Joe:
But maybe I missed something while I was in Iraq. If Joe turns out to be the communicator needed to tell the story, then Mr. Simon and PJTV made the right call and my time in Iraq produced a blind spot in my understanding. And I hope he is good, because if he fails, the whole enterprise will fall flat. If PJTV has jumped that shark this early in its existence, it will be difficult to take it seriously in the future.
PJTV represents a great platform for independents out covering the hot spots. Yes, I do some work for the majors, but see PJTV as the next logical step for the new media. I would love to be PJTV’s man in some hell-hole.
Which is why despite my questioning of PJTV’s news judgement, I need Joe to succeed. If the viewer’s brought in by the publicity are satisfied with Joe’s work, PJTV will be successful. If it comes off a publicity stunt, the enterprise will have taken a big hit.
Joe–don’t screw it up. Don’t jump the shark, do what the Fonz should have done when confronted with the California Kid–be the real Fonz from the early seasons and punch him in the face.
Why didn’t they hire JD? Well …
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