Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher, newest correspondent for Pajamas TV, has completed his first report from Gaza. Unshockingly, it switches between Joe inviting the media elite to interview him so he can say he's "not the story," and Joe saying he's not here to push an agenda and then declaring his opinions, with dabs of actual reporting mixed in. 

The media was always a front of the culture war but in the last election especially, media became more divisive. I won't repeat Sarah Palin's complaints because she repeats them enough already — and of course Joe has the same beef about the liberal media, which is why he's going to Gaza to find the truth that he doesn't believe the elite media tells. 

But there's another theme mixed in with all the liberal-media-bashing. He and Pajamas TV are not just taunting the "liberal" media. They're also taunting the "professional" media, the "traditional" media, and the "objective" media. Joe asks a Reuters reporter his opinion on the war and then asks him if he's shared that opinion on air. The guy says, "I'm just a reporter." The exchange shows the fight over changing ideas of objectivity and professionalism. The Reuters guy is a professional with professional standards he has to follow. Joe is an "ordinary guy" with no silly rules that get in the way of "truth." 

The "liberal media" and the "professional media" fights should stay separate, though. You can insist on fairness without attacking the idea of professionalism and objectivity itself. (In fact, the idea of objectivity makes the case for fairness.) Yes, the definition of objectivity needs adjusting, especially with the advent of new media, but it's dangerous to throw it out altogether — especially without serious thought and debate.

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Alisa Harris

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