The sad thing about Martha Raddatz’s performance at the vice-presidential debate is notable in that she appeared to be doing a great job merely because she wasn’t as servile as journalists usually are. That’s good, but as Glenn Greenwald points out, the points that she was so aggressively pushing were wrong. Conventional Village wisdom, but wrong. No, Iran is not the largest threat to America. No, Social Security is not going broke, and any reasonably competent journalist would know the difference between the funding status of Social Security and Medicare.
The other thing is, Raddatz covers foreign policy, and so suffers from “Wise Man” syndrome. This is when a reporter is so very thrilled that foreign policy mavens talk to her all the time — off the record, usually. And so she assimilates their world view. That’s why she pushed so hard against the idea of us actually leaving Afghanistan on schedule.
But the kind of people who seek out and talk to journalists are always unhappy with the status quo. That’s why they do it. The fact is, the military is supposed to do the bidding of its civilian leaders, and not vice versa. Members of the military have always bitched about their leadership — but their isolated experiences is no more valid as a template than anyone else’s. There are always political interests that have to be juggled.
Raddatz isn’t unusual. Police reporters are notorious for falling under the spell of the people they cover. Good reporters know that, see the pitfalls, and navigate their way around it. The rest don’t. But it all affects which access the rest of us get to what news.