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MICKEY SPILLS! How much are American journalists paid? Kaus answers Solomon’s question: // link // print // previous // next //

Is Charles embarrassed by Beck: Are certain people at Fox embarrassed by Glenn Beck? Yesterday, in this on-line post, Howard Kurtz reported that “many journalists” at the channel “are worried about the prospect that Beck is becoming the face of the network.”

Kurtz penned an interesting report. For ourselves, we wondered if folk were embarrassed by Beck when we watched Bill O’Reilly interview Charles Krauthammer on last Tuesday’s O’Reilly Factor.

Charles is a very aggressive Obama-basher. Last Tuesday, his discussion with O’Reilly began with the change in student loan procedures which Obama and congressional Dems have proposed. But soon, Charles offered his overview of Obama’s politics. As he and O’Reilly produced the following exchange, we couldn’t help wondering if some at Fox have become embarrassed by Beck:

O'REILLY (3/9/10): Let me play devil’s advocate. And I'm sure this is what Valerie Jarrett or another one Obama’s acolytes would say:

The president wants a clean environment. He wants the air to be cleaner. He wants companies to be forced to clean up their acts and use better fuel delivery. OK.

He wants to give people who don't have or can’t afford health insurance, health insurance so they don't have to go to the emergency rooms and they don't have to deprive themselves of good health. And he wants anyone with the ambition to be able to go to college in the United States of America. That sounds like all good stuff, doesn’t it?

KRAUTHAMMER: It's all good stuff, but as you know and I know, there's no free lunch. And the model for what he wants is what you have in western Europe. That’s not socialism. It’s social democracy. It's countries where they have extremely high taxation, very high regulation, and you're right, you get the goodies. You get the entitlements. It's a different way of doing a democracy. I’m not saying it's illegitimate, but it's not the traditional American way.

O'REILLY: All right. He isn't going over well—

KRAUTHAMMER: —much less government control in the United States.

O'REILLY: Right. That's my last question. It isn't going over well. Even though, and you— I'm in complete agreement with you. OK? There's nothing evil about the western European system. It's just a different system.

We thought that exchange was fascinating. It made us wonder if some at Fox have become embarrassed by Beck.

Mr. O went on to say that he thinks the western European system “saps initiative. I don't think those people could ever compete with us on any level.” (In January, this column by Krugman suggested that Mr. O could be wrong.) That said, we were struck to see Krauthammer go out of his way to say that the western European system isn’t “socialism.” “I’m not saying it's illegitimate,” Charles even declared. Mr. O said he agreed completely. “There's nothing evil about” it, he said.

We were struck to see this conversation on the network where Beck goes on—and on, and on, and on—about Communism’s obvious threat to this country, and Obama’s ties to same. Beck is in such a constant state of heat, he tends to skip “socialism” altogether. Accusing Obama of “socialism?” That’s kid stuff, best left to the serfs.

Charles is a major Obama-trasher. On the other hand, we would assume that he’s filled with contempt for Beck.

MICKEY SPILLS (permalink): We rubes are rarely allowed to know how much our “journalists” get paid. The press corps loves to get “all up in [everyone else’s] business,” to borrow a phrase from Way Too Willie, MSNBC’s morning program (click here). But the press corps very rarely arranges to get all up in its own.

For that reason, we were surprised by one Q-and-A when Slate’s Mickey Kaus took questions from Deborah Solomon in Sunday’s New York Times.

Kaus has been blogging at Slate for years. (Full disclosure: In January 2004, during the New Hampshire primary, we swallowed cocktails with Kaus at an extremely exclusive downtown Manchester night spot.) To his credit: When Solomon popped the question, Mickey actually answered:

How much do they pay you?
I had been making in the mid-90s, and then I had to take a pay cut along with everyone else, and I was making in the 80s. I’m fortunate to make any money as a blogger. There are some who make more. Most of them work for The Atlantic.

The analysts lowered their heads and cried. That said, we thought this was an interesting addition to the very thin body of knowledge about what journalists—and “journalists”—actually get paid.

“In the mid-90s!” The analysts wept. That said, we have to assume that the issue of pay plays a key role in our devolving press culture. This is especially true at the TV level, where Chris Matthews is apparently paid $5 million per year, and Rachel Maddow is reported to be paid $1 million. People will do almost anything for that kind of money. And they do, every night of the week! Just turn on your TV machine thingy!

(Matthews has been doing almost anything for well over a decade. Just last week, we reread the full transcript of his Hardball program from October 28, 1999—the day after the first Gore-Bradley debate. Even more than ten years later, that transcript remains a shock.)

People will cower, clown, dissemble, betray for a chance at that kind of money. (A great deal of fame is involved here too.) Presumably, this basic principle extends down through the mainstream “press corps.” We do not mean this as a criticism of Kaus, who is quite witty and who knows about various policy matters. (Though we haven’t read his site for some time.) But we would guess that this general principle explains a great deal of the conduct observed all through the “journalistic” world. We’d assume this is true at the top of the heap, where people like Matthews clown for the really big swag. Presumably, it’s true at the lowest rungs on the career ladder, where fiery young journalists may watch what they say, thus keeping their eyes on the prize.

How much are various “journalists” paid? (Example: How much is Maureen Dowd paid?) Rubes like us are never told. But people will do and say almost anything for the money found at the top of this heap. Just a guess: Almost surely, that’s one of the reasons why such swag gets doled.

Essay question/Analyze and discuss: Matthews has always produced low-to-mediocre ratings at Hardball. That said: Why was he paid so much during the Jack Welch era? Why is he paid so much now? If he’s worth five million at 5 PM, how much is Beck worth? Explain.

Suddenly, Susan spilled: On that same evening in that chic Manchester night spot, Susan Estrich wobbled over and spilled about her large pay at Fox. We’re not sure if Mickey was there at the time. Truth to tell, Susan spilled to Will Durst—and no, it wasn’t Durst’s fault.

Why not visit our incomparable archives? See THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/19/04.

Tomorrow—Howell speaks: Of all people, Howell Raines says something similar! Click here; cringe. Repeat.