Tom Purcell, 5/25/2015 [Archive]

Journalism's Sorry State

By Tom Purcell

I don't know why everyone is so up in arms that alleged newsman George Stephanopoulos donated $75,000 to a private foundation co-owned and operated by a woman who hopes to be president.

Georgie has been a partisan pit-chihuahua his entire career.

The little guy cut his teeth managing "bimbo eruptions" when Bill Clinton was running for president. His job was to destroy and discredit anyone who could make his boss look bad. (Good thing for Monica Lewinsky's sake that her scandal broke after Georgie left.)

"The War Room," a documentary that included his behind-the-scenes spin-doctor work, helped bring him fame. He used that fame to do good things for the world, right?

No, he used it to write a 1999 tell-all book that exposed embarrassing insider details about the Clintons — in return for a $3 million advance.

In 1996, the little guy was hired by ABC News as a political analyst and pundit. Fair enough. Political experience is helpful when explaining politics to the public.

But within three years, he became an "objective" reporter for the network. Now he is chief anchor and "leads the network's coverage on all major live events and breaking news around the world."

He abandoned his hyperpartisan ways to become a thoughtful, objective newsman?

Well, he gave it a shot.

But while moderating a presidential debate with Mitt Romney in 2012, he asked this question:

"Gov. Romney, do you believe that states have the right to ban contraception? Or is that trumped by a constitutional right to privacy?"

It was a ridiculous question but Georgie pressed Romney for an answer. The exchange helped Democrats frame a false narrative — that Republicans want to ban contraception — that helped gin up lots of aggrieved voters and get them to the polls.

Some political analysts wonder if that's why Georgie asked it. Certainly, an objective newsman could never do such a thing, right?

In 2009, Politico reported that Georgie participated in daily Democrat conference calls with Democrat political advisers Rahm Emanuel, Paul Begala and James Carville.

Imagine if it was discovered that a Fox News anchor did likewise with Republican political advisers. Our objective big-network journalists would surely report on that one.

In any event, I don't know why there is such a hue and cry about a big-network newsman giving money to a foundation co-owned and operated by a lady vying to be president. My only complaint is that the little fellow didn't disclose the information on his own.

We all know what team he and other "objective" big-network journalists are rooting for. According to an Indiana University survey, "The American Journalist in the Digital Age," 80 percent of journalists who align with a party are Democrats.

So one-sided have some of our journalists become, they don't have any idea that they are favoring one political side over the other.

They go out of their way to dig up dirt on Republican presidential candidates — they had to dig long and hard to report that Romney allegedly hazed a fellow student in high school and once put his dog in a crate on the roof of his station wagon.

They reported the "scandalous" Romney stories with straight faces, never realizing how silly they looked.

The real tragedy is that there are many hardworking journalists who report with integrity and honesty, and their reputations are hurt by people like Georgie.

The days when news organizations went out of their way to separate hard reporting from the taint of politics is long over. That is why political hit men can transform themselves into "objective" news anchors in only a couple of years and be rewarded with multimillion-dollar contracts.

That says more about the sorry state of American journalism than it does about Georgie.


© 2015 Tom Purcell. Tom Purcell, author of "Misadventures of a 1970's Childhood" and "Comical Sense: A Lone Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!" is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. For info on using this column in your publication or website, contact or call (805) 969-2829. Send comments to Tom at

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