One of the more fascinating sidelights of the crisis in Ferguson is the way it has revealed the complacent, obedient, and fundamentally non-journalistic instincts of certain leading centrist establishmentarian journalists. The precipitating event was the arrest of Wesley Lowery, a young Washington Post reporter who was illegally ordered to leave a McDonalds near the demonstrations and, correctly, refused, leading to his arrest.
This angered Joe Scarborough. And by “angered,” we should be clear, we mean angered at the presumption of Lowery for refusing. The avuncular host of Morning Joe instructed him, “Next time a police officer tells you that you've got to move along because you've got riots outside, well, you probably should move along.” (Because nothing says “journalism” like following orders from authorities, however questionable, self-interested, or illegal they may be.) Scarborough attributed Lowery’s refusal not to any commitment to continue doing his job but to his desire to “get on TV and have people talk about me the next day,” because the desire to get on television in any way possible is the only motivation that makes sense to Joe Scarborough.
Lowery replied sharply. Riding to Scarborough’s side today, forming a kind of journalistic Axis of Evil, is Mike Allen. In Allen’s world, which is defined by overlapping and possibly coterminous circles of sources, friends, and paid advertisers, the sort of effrontery displayed by Lowery first toward the police and then toward an esteemed television commentator was thoroughly intolerable. Sniffs Allen, in today’s Playbook:
YA CAN’T MAKE IT UP – Wesley Lowrey, 23-year-old Congress/politics reporter for the WashPost, responding on CNN to suggestions that he should have obeyed police amid a riot: “[L]et me be clear about this: I have LITTLE PATIENCE for talking heads.”
FYI, his name is spelled Lowery, and his age is 24. But if Lowery wants more favorable coverage from Allen, maybe he should think about sponsoring some ads in Playbook.
Update: This was intended as implicit, but I should add explicitly that there was no riot, which was part of what made the evacuation order so transparently illegitimate.