Friday, August 10, 2018

Quote of the Day (Jessica Mitford, on the Allure of Investigative Journalism)

“You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty.”—British investigative journalist Jessica Mitford (1917-1996), Poison Penmanship: The Gentle Art of Muckraking (1979)

I’m afraid that, when read today, this quote is ironic in a manner that Ms. Mitford never intended.

Living in a time of more conventional piety and stringent rules, Mitford could easily see the lacerating impact of her work—notably, her jaundiced take on the funeral industry, The American Way of Death (1963). No such embarrassment or shame obtains in our current era.

“Reality TV” (the phrase is, of course, a misnomer) thrives on the notion that people have no privacy, no secrecy, and no shame. A star of that form of entertainment, the current “leader of the free world” (who at every turn has striven to aid and abed those who would make this world less free), has lived his life and thrived in his career by thumbing his nose at rules. His success has only encouraged him. 

If it is impossible to imagine Donald Trump being embarrassed, it is very plausible to imagine him scared. That seems to be happening now as so many different investigators (lawyers, not journalists, be it noted) are investigating him.

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