- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I was reporting in Iraq, the Washington Post‘s bureau chief had a list of emergency numbers printed up and put on a laminated card you could keep in your wallet. Like who to call if you are kidnapped.
If I had the power I’d print up this comment by Fred Reed, the Hunter S. Thompson of the right, laminate it, and give one card to every member of the Pentagon press corps:
Reporters don’t meet Important People because we news weasels are meritorious, but because the press enjoys power all out of proportion to its worth. If people knew reporters as well as I do, they would emigrate. You could take a blind cocker spaniel with a low IQ and give him, her, or it a press card from the Washington Post, and in three weeks every pol in the city would kiss up to the beast, who would develop delusions of grandeur.
It’s the reporter’s disease: You come to believe that the Secretary of the Air Force wants a press breakfast with you because he respects the depth of your thought. No. He thinks you are an idiot, and in all likelihood loathes you, but he knows that what you write will show up in the White House clips.”
I just want to note that one of my dogs already has delusions of grandeur, and she doesn’t even have a press card.