Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Ben's big ones

Over at City Lights, Ed Kemmick comments about comments he made in response to comments about his Sunday column.

I liked the column and mostly agreed with it. But Ed errs when he says in his response to Mark that Ben Bagdikian sounds like a "chin-scratching sociologist."

Long before he became a chin-scratcher, Bagdikian was national editor of The Washington Post during the Pentagon Papers days. He was, according to David Halberstam's "The Powers That Be," the most eloquent voice at the Post in support of publishing the papers. Halberstam also reports that when Bagdikian served the Post as ombudsman he once told a group of blacks at Harvard that the purpose of the media wasn't to oppress black people, it was to make money. He told them that if they really wanted to have an impact, they should boycott the paper.

AP picked up the story, and Ben Bradlee threw it on Bagdikian's desk. Bagdikian admitted that he had said what was in the story and typed a letter of resignation, but Bradlee called him to apologize before he turned it in. On another occasion, when Bagdikian voluntarily entered prison to work on a series of stories, Bradlee said, "I've got to hand it to you, buddy. You've really got big ones."

"The Media Monopoly" is the classic in its field, and Bagdikian is required reading.

1 comment:

Ed Kemmick said...

Shows you what I know.