Friday, February 09, 2007

I saw it on the Internets

Reportage 101

Would you like to be a journalist? We who blog aren't journalists, you know, but we can always learn from the example of one of today's highly paid professionals.

This morning on KSFO's Morning Show, Lee Rodgers showed how it's done. Since I have a rather delicate stomach, I never listen to San Francisco's “Hot Talk” radio station for more than a few minutes at a time. Nevertheless, Rodgers is a consummate professional who can always be relied up to deliver some priceless bit of reportage—pronounced in the French manner, of course—so he must be dishing it out nonstop.

Today he was trying to pump some life into the limp story about Pelosi's supposed demand for a castle in the sky. Or was it a stairway to heaven? In any case, Rodgers waxed indignant that Pelosi was allegedly demanding special treatment from the military authorities who provide secure transportation to the Speaker of the House. After all, Speaker Hastert was given a plane that flew him nonstop to Illinois any time he wished. Why should Speaker Pelosi expect more?

Well, maybe because she's from California? Last I heard, that's a little farther from D.C. than the Land of Lincoln. If the current Speaker is to be accorded the equivalent privilege of a nonstop trip to her home district, deemed advisable by the House Sergeant at Arms, it seems reasonable that a slightly more robust plane than Hastert's might be required.

Perhaps Rodgers is weak on geography.

But no! Rodgers sneeringly explained to his listeners that Pelosi was making unreasonable demands and he could prove it. I pricked up my ears. Right-wing radio prefers to offer blatant assertions and specious allegations, so the announcement of forthcoming evidence suggested a new era was dawning for KSFO. Rodgers was eager to tell the radio audience exactly how to examine the proof for itself.

His secret weapon was Google: “Type in ‘Gulfstream,’” Rodgers said. “Type in ‘specifications.’”

He then read from one of the references provided by Google. Rodgers chortled that the Gulfstream III jet previously assigned to Hastert has a range of nearly 4000 miles, providing “proof positive” that Pelosi was demanding special treatment, California being less than 4000 miles from Washington, D.C.

As we all know, information provided by the many tubes of the Internets is carefully vetted, completely reliable, and utterly unambiguous.

Rodgers never got to the part about how a plane's range is significantly affected by passenger load, headwinds, and other flight conditions. Since he didn't read that there are plenty of circumstances under which a Gulfstream III cannot reliably be expected to make it across the country nonstop, that concern magically vanishes.

We mustn't blame him for this. As a highly paid professional journalist, Lee Rodgers must have known that too much research would have made his story vanish, too. He couldn't have that!

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