One of my favorite, of many excellent Hunter S. Thompson pieces, is his 1994 obituary of Richard Nixon.
It wasn’t just because Thompson masterfully shredded revisionist historians’ insight into Nixon’s legacy as a series of happy, black-and-white television “good old days” acts. It wasn’t just because he pulled back the curtain on the tasteless, shallow political stunt that was Nixon’s funeral. It wasn’t because he exposed the sociopathic, murderous tendencies of Nixon’s past and present contemporaries.
It was because the whole essay got in the face of the journalists, commentators and talk show hosts who tipped the scales on facts for ratings, who refused to believe their eyes when they saw a war criminal take the oath of office and proceed to commit a genocide against the people of Southeast Asia.
From World War II to Vietnam to the War in Iraq to Trump, members of the media have failed time and time again to do their moral homework, to look themselves in the mirror and say “do I feel ok about covering this subject in this way?”
Nowhere is this moral failure more evident than in the New York Times yesterday, which ran a lifestyle piece on the “Nazi’s” next door, how they’re just like you and me, except they’ve got “Mein Kampf” on their bookshelf instead of “The Hunger Games.”
This story in the Times covers a Nazi couple who lives outside of Dayton, Ohio. He works as a welder, she’s passively accepting his views in agreement. He hates Jews and people of color, but their wedding had interracial couples in attendance. Isn’t that cute? The Aryans were cool with interracial couples at their wedding.
There’s only one way to cover politicians, public figures and corporations: treat them like they’ve got something to hide. Like they’ve got some secrets they don’t want public. Find out what that information is and expose it, print it. Put the dirty laundry of the dangerous out for public consumption, to paraphrase BuzzFeed reporter Joe Bernstein who practiced what he preached and wrote an amazing expose on the financial dealings of Milo, Steve Bannon and other neo-Nazi thugs.
It’s not even like the Times would have to look very far to find good work: they’ve been breaking amazing stories about the Trump-Russia investigation, including this one about Michael Flynn two days ago.
I hope that if I ever become a public figure, media outlets would cover me aggressively, would triple check everything I said for truth and would ensure that the public was kept abreast of my actions that might affect their lives. The American people deserve it.