This kind of thing makes me weep for the state of professional journalism in this country. Not that’s ever been high-calibre, anywhere, ever.
Note especially this exchange (and I quote):
“Eric,” I said. “Matt Taibbi from The BEAST. We met this weekend.”
“Oh,” he said. “Hi.”
“I was wondering how you guys came up with that 30,000 figure. It seemed like there were a lot more people than that there.”
“Well,” he said. “That wasn’t me. That was [lead reporter Jerry Zremski]. I think he got it from a wire report.”
“Okay,” I said. “Why would he need a wire report, if you were there?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “But if Jerry got it from a reliable source, then I’m cool with that.”
Jesus, I thought. This kid is barely out of college, and he’s already completely full of shit.
“Wait a minute,” I said. “You were there. Do you think there were 30,000 people there?”
He paused. “I… I couldn’t give you a figure,” he said.
“Why not?” I said. “You can’t say if there were more or less than 30,000 people there? You don’t have your own opinion?”
“I… didn’t have a good view,” he said.
Jesus Christ. A good view?
“How can you call yourself a journalist,” I said, “if you can’t even make a determination, by yourself, as to how many hundreds of thousands of people there were at a public event?”
“It wasn’t my story,” he said. “It was Jerry’s story.”
“But your name went on it,” I said. “And it’s a fucking lie. I wouldn’t be comfortable having my name on something like that.”
After a brief pause, during which time Jerry Zremski himself obviously advised DuVall to hang up the phone, he came back on.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “If you have any further questions, the best you can do is send an e-mail to Jerry.” He then rattled off Zremski’s e-address.
“You realize,” I said, “that once you start giving ‘no comments’ to other journalists, it’s all over. Your career is over. I know you haven’t been in this business long, but once you take that step, you’re fucked. You understand that, don’t you?”
He again advised me to write to Zremski, then hung up. I wrote to Zremski. There was no answer, of course.