- Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Back in the 1970s, I got my first job in journalism. I was a paperboy for The Washington Post.

Yup, I’ve worked for over 30 years for The Washington Times, but I started out at our crosstown competitor. I’d wake up at 5 a.m., ride my bike over to a Chevy Chase, Maryland, neighborhood near me with my twin brother, both 12, and we’d deliver about 100 papers. 

That was 1972. Most mornings I’d sit on the top of the sewer grate in front of the Silverbergs’ house and read the front page. There was this story about Watergate — I didn’t really get it, I was 12 — but it was all over A1 every day. I’d glean what I could and then fling papers (never under the car in the driveway).

By 7 a.m., we’d head home, and I’d give my dad a preview of what the Post had that morning (he was weirdly into the whole Watergate thing, so it was a bonding moment — I knew before him). That went on for a couple of years, and then one day, the big headline was “Nixon Resigns.” 

Now, I’d been alive for only three presidents: John F. Kennedy was murdered (we happened to live in Dallas then; I was only 3 years old, yet I still remember my dad crying); then the next president didn’t run for reelection, and then Nixon. I didn’t know that no president had ever resigned. 

But I kept that paper. I put it in a plastic sleeve to protect it. I still have it; the front page is framed and hanging in my basement. I didn’t know it then, but journalism — more reporting, the hunt for news, and more than that, speaking truth to power (or, more honestly, just being a contrarian because everything politicians say is a lie) — was something that intrigued me.

A few years later, the biggest stars in Hollywood — Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman — were just down the street filming “All the President’s Men.” I was hooked. “Journalists” were stars.

I double-majored in literature and history at the University of Maryland, but by the time I figured out that journalism might be my thing, they wouldn’t let me into J-school. I got out of college and made $13,000 a year at a weekly way outside Washington, then jumped to another paper, where the managing editor (my mentor, the great Hank Pearson) sent me to the White House to cover a local educator who was to be awarded a Teacher of the Year prize.

The place blew me away. I knew then that I had to get back there — the pinnacle of journalism. A dozen years later, I was flying all over the world on Air Force One — a hundred times or more — and yelling questions at world leaders.

But now, today, journalism is horrible. Every news outlet has a bias (weirdly, it was former President Donald Trump who helped out the last few that had a facade of fairness but was, in reality, a liberal font). “Journalists” today are really just activists, more interested in espousing their ideology (or, more realistically, the ideology of their parent company) than covering “news.”

The atrocities in Israel show the depth of the depravity in U.S. media now. Reports circulated all day Tuesday that Hamas terrorists had beheaded babies in one kibbutz, but a Los Angeles Times “journalist” took issue with those.

“The only source for ’Hamas beheaded babies’ appears to be the Israeli military, which is widely known to spread lies and disinformation,” LA Times investigative reporter Adam Elmahrek posted on X. 

“Journalists, this is the fog of war. You’ll be seeing all sorts of claims. Don’t amplify unverified, sensational info,” he wrote, then turned off the ability for people to comment on his thread.

The American Jewish Committee gets it. “Not once on the front page of the @NYTimes does the word ’terrorists’ appear. Not once. Why not call Hamas what it is? Why not call the slaughtering of innocents what it is? This is disgraceful,” the group wrote on X.

Yup. How clear-cut is this thing? Crystal. Even more, tell me what did or didn’t happen. Give me firsthand reports from the field. Anything else is garbage.

A whopping 87% of journalism graduates regret their degree choice, according to one study.

I wish I could tell them they’re wrong. Sorry, I can’t. I regret it all, too.

Journalism is dead.

• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on X @josephcurl.

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