The curious case of the incurious journalist
There used to be a Hollywood stereotype, one that lasted all the way through the movie about Woodward and Bernstein. The trope was that journalists were driven by a desire to delve into politicians’ secrets and expose them. They were curious. This might once have been true, but it’s certainly not the case for today’s journalists, especially the ones who have access to the politicians and those around them. Take the curious case of the incurious Philip Bump.
Bump is a “Washington Post national columnist.” (I got that descriptor from his X page.) He’s written a book that the NY Times liked (also info from his X page). According to Bump’s bio on his webpage (which promotes that book), he used to cover politics for The Atlantic, a magazine that was once reputable. Bump also gets a lot of media exposure, having appeared on MSNBC, Fox, PBS, and NPR. He boasts that he has a large readership, which I’m sure is true, given that WaPo readers aren’t that discriminating.
In sum, Bump is a journalist. He’s part of the media. He’s a reporter. In the popular consciousness, he’s supposed to be out there digging up the facts. Moreover, he has at his back one of the largest media outlets in America, which gives him access and resources denied to ordinary people.
What he lacks is curiosity. I mean, he aggressively lacks curiosity. He’s so disinterested when it comes to Joe Biden that he’s the Sergeant Schultz of reporters:
Or maybe he’s all three of the famous three monkeys: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. In Bump’s case, of course, his three-monkey syndrome kicks in only when he’s being asked to report on or comment about Democrats.
Why am I going on about Bump’s almost supernatural lack of curiosity? Because Bump agreed to an interview with Noam Dworman. During that interview, Dworman asked Bump about Hunter Biden’s famous text to his daughter in which he complained that he had to give 50% of his money to his dad. (Daddy, if you need to be reminded, is Joe Biden.)
I hope you all can do what I did and pay for everything for this entire family for 30 years. It is really hard. But don’t worry, unlike Pop [Joe Biden], I won’t make you give me half your salary.
The average dad doesn’t demand 50% of his son’s salary. That’s sufficiently strange that one would think it would inspire curiosity in a journalist. But not Philip Bump. He does not want to know, and he spins wildly and frantically to avoid even having to think about the issue:
Here’s @pbump’s response to a simple question from @noam_dworman about what he as a journalist thinks of Hunter Biden’s text message to his adult daughter explaining that he has to give half his income to his father. The lack of curiosity is stunning. https://t.co/HuXKIMUVhC pic.twitter.com/Aa4dXZ6HJR— a newsman (@a_newsman) September 1, 2023
Bump has ideological blinders. Indeed, Jonathan Turley has documented this many times. It’s an indictment of the terrible state of American journalism that these blinders are affixed to (checks Bump’s webpage) one of the Washington Post’s “most read writers…”
Image: X screen grab.