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Today’s journalists can make a ham sandwich seem evil. But soon, the ham sandwich will talk back. 8/19/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Uncategorized.

A judge once remarked that a pre-trial grand jury could “indict a ham sandwich” because the defendant in those hearings is not given a fair opportunity to defend himself. The Press wields similar power for similar reasons, as was demonstrated in its ham-handed treatment of the innocent Duke lacrosse team members when they were not in a position to talk.

But an article by the AP’s Douglass Daniel on the passing of President Reagan aide Michael Deaver reminds us that this distasteful, if not immoral, practice has been going on for quite some time. Deaver had the humble job of doing routine PR work for Reagan, which in the reporter’s cloven hoofs becomes a slam that he was “scorned as an expert at media manipulation for focusing on how the president looked as much as what the president said.” But, every important person has handlers who do this respectable work. And, every President has close aides who must bite their tongues when personally attacked so as not to divert attention from their master’s achievements and agenda. In fact, Reagan had a number of other innocent and loyal aides who were similarly ham-strung and could not respond to irresponsible accusations from the Press, such as Attorney General Ed Meese and Secretary of Labor Ray Donovan, who famously asked when acquitted, “which office do I go to to get my reputation back?” And can anyone now deny that there was little justification for rolling prosecutor Kenneth Starr and Scooter Libby through the mud?

Journalism has had a century to cleanse itself of this un-kosher practice. They have failed to develop ethical principles that parallel the legal system’s assumption of innocence until proven guilty. But in the news world to come, reporters will have to answer to bloggers, who will gladly bring the ham sandwich’s arguments back to life. Reporters will learn the hard way never to wrestle with a pig of their own making…they’ll both get dirty and the pig will enjoy it.


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