On Monday, NBC announced that it had hired Chelsea Clinton as a full-time correspondent. The former First Daughter will start immediately, and work on stories for NBC Nightly News' "Making a Difference" series, which focuses on volunteer efforts to improve communities. Clinton joins a host of other children-of-the-powerful whom NBC has recently hired, from Jenna Bush to Luke Russert to Meghan McCain. Is this bad business for NBC?
This is just another cushy deal for the 1 percent: Clinton's hire makes a mockery of the idea that "America is a meritocracy" whose media is "filled with insurgent outsiders who will be relentless watchdogs over those in power," says Glenn Greenwald at Salon. No wonder those supposedly "angry, lazy losers in the Occupy movement are so upset." Our country's founders fought a revolution "to free us from the shackles of monarchy." Now, NBC is trying to ensure air time for the "heirs and heiresses to political power and great fortune." The network should be ashamed of itself.
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And it's hastening journalism's decline: "Whenever a network TV news division pulls one of these nepotistic no-brainers, it saps a bit of American journalism's life force," says John McQuaid at Forbes. The news business is already struggling, and "journalistic authority — the ability to be convincing, to be believed — is a steadily diminishing resource." Trying to purchase that authority by hiring big names might be appealing, but "you can't really buy authority," only attention. There's a difference.
This isn't about journalism. It's about entertainment: Clinton's hire "has as much to do with journalism as CSI has to do with the day-to-day life of a policeman," says Hamilton Nolan at Gawker. With the few network news jobs out there going to "political celebrity children" instead of talented TV journalists, it's time we stop pretending. Let's discuss this development as if Clinton "were hired as a new guest star on Two and a Half Men" because "saying these people are in the 'news' business is an insult to, you know, news."
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