Last night, I was ecstatic to take in an evening of investigative journalism, past and present, hosted by the Canadian Journalism Foundation. At the Roy Thomson Hall, a panel discussion began the evening, where The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald joined Democracy Now's Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman and Metro columnist Vicky Mochoma. Later, Matt Taibbi of The Rolling Stone discussed what he learned about Trump and reporting on U.S. politics while on the campaign trail.
It was a damn inspiring night to be a journalist. Almost everything they said reinforced my belief that today's journalists need to be courageous, unrelenting and determined in holding the powers that be accountable for their actions.
Taibbi taught us that journalists can't think polls are all lollipops and gummy drops. They can be wrong, they can lead journalists to complacency. Look at all the polls predicting a Clinton presidency, and how Ivy League journalists truly weren't in tune with Middle America, Taibbi said.
Most importantly, dig deep. He recognized how the media only reported on surface topics with Trump, and gave him a buffet of free airtime to boot. Where was the dogged reporting Woodward and Bernstein would be commending today?
That's where The Intercept and Democracy Now come in. In the panel discussion, some gem-like quotes danced into our ears: Glenn Greenwald reminded us that people lose faith in governments that lie, but remember...all governments lie. Not just Trump, but Bush with Iraq and Johnson with Vietnam. Scahill said more than once that all journalists should be activists, contrary to what the Star thinks about Desmond Cole. Be angry at what's happening today, Scahill told the journalists in the room. If you see injustice, how could you truly be objective?
Goodman raised a salient point on how we know the names of the Manchester bombing victims, but what about the children killed in Yemen raids last week? Or last year? "Why don't we know who they are and what they wanted to do? The media is selective about who they portray as victims, and that says a lot about who we are," she added.
Despite Trump branding every critical journalist with a "fake news" tattoo, journalists have to be even hungrier today to get the scoop, the journos said. And if the mainstream press isn't doing it quick enough, the indie outlets like the Intercept are happy to join the fray. In fact, they have no other choice. The U.S. administration is so fractured, so infantile, America's standing around the world is at risk. Not to mention its citizens who voted in a buffoon who would rather coddle his ego than read his daily intelligence briefings.
Strange times we live, the journalists also said, without really saying it. But sometimes, the pen can be mightier than the sword.
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