This is what I hate about ‘Journalism’ as practiced

Sharyl Attkison Fast Furious

Doin’ the Faux Nooz phony scandal

It’s about making noise and hurting people, without ever attempting to understand what the “journalist” is supposedly reporting. Listen [emphasis added]:

Taxpayer money finances IRS “Star Trek” parody
Sharyl Attkisson / CBS News

PLAY CBS NEWS VIDEO … Thus begins a six-minute “Star Trek” parody starring IRS employees and paid for with your tax dollars.  It’s not likely to go over well with some Americans and members of Congress, especially since federal agencies have been complaining that it’s difficult to find trims under forced sequestration….

Yeah. It got the Usual Suspects. And nobody will ever remark on Atkisson’s sleazy reporting because news is ALWAYS about living at a junior high school level of cognition.

Now, I’m going to actually DEFEND the IRS here, and you’re going to act shocked, because you’re used to acting like a sixth grader, and not as a functioning adult. Strap in. You may be in for a bumpy ride.

0h no!

Let’s start out where Sharyl Attkisson never did: with LOGIC. Since it is impossible for the video in question to have been produced UNDER sequestration, the statement in the lede paragraph is a SLUR, a SLANDER, an intentional FALSEHOOD to create a FALSE IMPRESSION. I don’t know about you, kiddies, but where I come from that’s not called “reporting.”

 especially since federal agencies have been complaining that it’s difficult to find trims under forced sequestration….

OK? We’re ALREADY on incredibly shaky ground. And that is what I hate about so-called “journalism”: it’s about sensationalization. It’s about making SURE that your “report” is THE MOST IMPORTANT SCANDAL EVER SCANDALIZED, about the IMPACT OF YOUR SCANDALOUS SCANDAL, about SELLING your “news” story right inside the “news” story. If you go and look at the Pulitzer Prizes over the past couple of decades, you’ll see they’re not given for reporting. They’re given for SENSATION! If your report isn’t complete crap AND everybody picks up on it, YOU might be a Pulitzer Prize Winner!

the coveted award

Award-winning ‘journalism’ from CBS

Listen as Attkisson then slimes her way around the report by a combination of innuendo AND willful ignorance to create the appearance of scandal (picking up right where we ended):

CBS News filed a Freedom of Information request asking for the video after the IRS earlier refused to turn over a copy to the congressional committee that oversees tax issues: House Ways and Means. According to committee Chairman Charles Boustany, Jr. (R-LA), the video was produced in the IRS’s own television studio in New Carrollton, MD. The studio may have cost taxpayers more than $4 million dollars last year alone.

According to a statement from the IRS, the “Star Trek” video (see above) was created to open a 2010 IRS training and leadership conference.

“Back in Russia, I dreamed someday I’d be rich and famous,” says one crew member in the parody.

“Me too,” agrees another. “That’s why I became a public servant.”

And the two fist bump.

A separate skit based on the television show “Gilligan’s Island” was also recorded, but the IRS did not provide that video. The IRS told Congress the cost of producing the two videos was thought to be about $60,000 dollars.

IRS Acting Commissioner Steven Miller said in a statement that one of the two videos was played in 400 locations and saved taxpayers $1.5 million over what it would have cost to train employees in person.


Fake reporters with fake awards for fake reporting on fake conspiracies

Let me get this straight:

  1. The IRS has a video production studio (gasp! like EVERY OTHER GODDAM ORGANIZATION AND CORPORATION IN AMERICA 2013!)
  2. The studio’s operating budget was $4 million dollars last year.
  3. The TRAINING video in question cost some unspecified (about half) portion of TWO videos totaling $60,000.
  4. The TRAINING video in question was a training video that the IRS Acting Commissioner says saved $1.5 million over sending physical training personnel. For a mere$30,000. But, this is NOT PRAISEWORTHY, and MUST be made to look like BOONDOGGLE by crap “journalist” (at least in this report) Attkisson.
  5. If videos cost HIGH END about $30,000 to produce, how many videos were produced for $4 million? And, multiplying the savings figure, how many training dollars were saved by those $4 million worth of videos?

I could go on. The report is a masterwork of clueless outrage from a reporter who either KNOWS BETTER or else OUGHT to know better. She was IN POSITION to do her job, but you know, Pulitzer Prizes and ginning up fake outrage is more important.


Joseph Pulitzer, no doubt
spinning in his grave

Especially in a week in which the utter brain-dead nature of our “reporters” is being reviewed in their complicity and collaboration in shoving an illegal war of aggression and the 21st Century’s largest mass-murder of innocents thus far. (Fear not, it’s early in the Century, and Bush’s murder record of a mere six figures of innocent men, women and children won’t stand for long. But it’s still the record.)

No: this is the reason that I despise journalists and their whole “secrets” and “sources” and endless cover-ups of the truth and cheer-leading for KNOWN half-truths, as Attkisson does here.

The facts are there: they are merely suppressed by careful mis-sequencing of information to produce a false impression of public servants who no one likes only because no one likes taxation. During tax season.

Ha ha. Makes viewers happy to snort at the IRS. Makes Attkisson look like an actual reporter and not a pathetic hack. And, as it is half-baked and doesn’t stand up to a moment’s logical scrutiny, the Usual Suspects are on it like White on Rice, since misconstruing  news is what they live for:

IRS Star Trek Video

click to go to original page

Naturally, the IRS reacted by apologizing for reasons that are understandable, which SEEMINGLY makes the whole report a slam dunk: boondoggle destroyed! Heads will roll! All hail our free press!


The tale continues from where we left off:

Nonetheless, the IRS issued a statement that reads: “The space parody video from 2010 is not reflective of overall IRS video efforts, which provide critical information to taxpayers and cost-effective employee training critical to running the nation’s tax system. In addition, the IRS has instituted tough new standards for videos to prevent situations similar to the 2010 video.”

This week, Rep. Boustany called on IRS to give a full accounting of production expenditures at the television studio.

Last year, a controversial General Services Administration (GSA) video surfaced. In it, GSA employees sang and joked about wasteful government spending. It had been shown at a 2010 government convention. Several GSA officials lost their jobs over the controversy.

I guess she’s hoping for that here.

Because anything “frivolous” in a taxpayer-sponsored video is AUTOMATICALLY wasteful (even though Disney showed the War Department that training videos using cartoon characters and humor GOT THROUGH to the trainees FAR MORE EFFECTIVELY than dry dissertations).  Because the reporters have willfully abandoned reasoning for sheer sensationalism, for the notion that ON THE FACE OF IT, ANY taxpayer knows what a HORRIBLE RIPOFF this $30,000 video was!!!!!!

donald duck VD

WWII Venereal Disease Education campaign starred Donald Duck

And the inmates continue to run the asylum.

I met Sharryl Attkisson at the 2000 Democratic National Convention, and she seemed a nice enough person, but this report seems to indicate that she never bothered learning how to actually be a reporter. Just another pretty face on the Video. No mind is evident from the reporting.


“investigative”? seriously?

And people’s lives will be destroyed, and careers ruined just to fill a couple of minutes on the weekend news. And she’s perfectly well aware of it, as the final sentence about the GSA proves.

Which is why I despise reporters. They do not care what harm their words do. They are trained to IGNORE the harm and rationalize it. (Think of Absence of Malice with Paul Newman and Sally Field).

Once upon a time, I worked at a legal secretary at the New Mexico Highway Department. This seemed odd, as a writer and journalist of a couple of decades, but I was a temporary secretary, and I knew how to run IBM System 360 Displaywrite.  Since the IBM System 360 was a mainframe, only the state and a few others needed secretaries who could also manage the computer program. It was a moment through the looking glass: a reporter behind the veil that other reporters were trying to report.

It was an odd moment, a moment touched with scandal. At first, newspapers, but, later, radio and television, since radio and television have always sucked their content from newspapers.


In Santa Fe, the New Mexico state capitol

Because a Republican (Gary Johnson) had been elected governor (a once-in-a-month-of-blue-moons event at the time), the newspapers were out to “get” him. And that extended to his appointees, including my ultimate boss, Dewey Lonsberry, a Republican from Hobbes, New Mexico, Secretary of the Department.

And the Albuquerque Journal and the Santa Fe New Mexican got stuck in a pissing match to see WHO could find more “scandals” at the Highway Department.

You could physically SEE the toll it had taken on Lonsberry. I was told that he’d arrived a jovial, press-the-flesh appointee and was now almost a Howard Hughes type figure. Usually in, his office locked. Besieged was precisely the term and he was its definition.


Dewey had been reduced to a very sad man, and I was the only NMSHTD employee, seemingly, who would talk to him in the lunchroom (I have always been utterly catholic in my associations and am willing to give any human the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise, even Republican  Secretaries of the Highway Department.)

And the papers hounded us constantly, to try and find any phony “Star Trek Video” kind of scandal, and they’d found some minor stuff.

But the sense of oppression and misery was palpable. And you could feel it hanging in the air, like a heavy fog. People who worked there were MISERABLE.

Over what?


Basically over nothing. No major scandals ever erupted, but there was a constant drum-beat of the Albuquerque Journal reporter doubling down on his initial ‘scoop’ and the New Mexican reporter shamed to have been scooped in his home town, doubling down on outdoing the Journal. It was insane. But it must’ve sold papers.

And then, one of our own, the Chief Counsel of the Legal Department, tried to do a decent, human thing.

nobody expects the spanish_inquisition

New Mexico media at work

We regularly and ofttimes pointlessly grabbed land for highway projects. We could not lose, by state law. Eminent Public Domain, it’s called, and it is an ugly thing when it is exercised without any human sense of proportionality or decency or intention to actually perform a public service for the public good.

We took WAY too much land for an interchange. So, the Chief Counsel (a Democrat, a man with decades of public service, one of the most decent men I’ve ever worked for) got the land we DIDN’T need returned to the family for a nominal fee. It was HOMESTEADED ranch land, in the family for a century and more.


The family promptly leased a bit of their reacquired property to McDonald’s  for a restaurant at the interchange.


And that decent man, that public servant who took public service seriously, trying to do the decent thing was hounded from public service by the yowling media following in the newspapers’ wake and his career was ruined.

And NOT ONE of those bastards ever took a moment to even ASK what the Chief Counsel’s side was. Or questioned the sensationalized “conclusion.”


A made-up Hearst story to 
sell the Spanish-American War

And while his bureaucratic execution was in limbo, he walked the halls of the legal division like a wraith, like a pallid ghost. Shellshocked and ruined, like Barry Lyndon, for doing something decent and human.

Because of “reporters” like Sharryl Attkisson.

klingon female

Accursed be her genus’ name.


This is cross-posted from his blog.


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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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