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Ken Vogel: Hack reporter on the make


I’m frontpaging this comment from Daragh McDowell, because it explains how perverse it is to bothsides the Ukraine scandal, and it also illustrates how the career incentives for individual journalists can undermine journalism as a profession:

[A]s a specialist in the region this is utterly galling – the firing of Shokin happened after an international pressure campaign by Ukraine’s donors because his corruption was open, massive in scale, and harmful to reform. When he was finally given the boot it was – rightly – seen as a massive leap forward for the rule of law in Ukraine. Not only that, but Shokin had been blocking investigations into Burisma – the company Hunter Biden was on the board of – which proceeded after his ouster. This is not some kind of arcane bit of Ukrainian politicking that only nerds like me know about – it was covered extensively in the English language press and involved the the IMF and EU as well (there’s no indication Biden was decisive in shaping US policy here either – every one of Ukraine’s donors knew Shokin was corrupt and every one agreed he should go). Moreover, when originally reporting on Giuliani’s trip back in May, Vogel was in touch with Ukrainian experts who provided this crucial context. He has consistently, and deliberately, chosen not to include it in his reporting – probably because doing so would make abundantly clear that there is no ‘there’ there, and therefore no story to cover. But hey, that doesn’t raise your profile as a hot young reporter, whereas “Joe Biden – questions remain despite overwhelming evidence he did nothing wrong” gets you plenty of talking head invites. This is a structural failing in the US media economy, but goddamn Vogel’s exploitation of it is really galling.

Listen. Understand. “It’s out there” is out there. It can’t be reasoned with, it can’t be bargained with. It doesn’t feel pity of remorse or fear and it absolutely will not stop. Ever. Until American democracy is dead.

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