Tuesday, August 07, 2012

How Power Suborns You

Novelist Barry Eisler, who's also a off-again, on-again blogger, wrote a superb post about how power suborns people, focusing in his case on big-league journalists, although, as he says towards the end, the principles generalize. (I found it via Digby, who has a caveat or two to add.)

Most of the post is a list of warning signs for journalists to look for in themselves. Here's a taste:
2. As the compromises accumulate, you'll need a larger, more all-purpose rationalization to explain them away. I suspect the most common of these boils down to, "Okay, this isn't my proudest moment, but overall I do more good with my journalism than I do bad. Plus, if I left this position, it would be filled by someone with (even) greater capacity for compromise, and less capacity for doing good. So on balance, I have to do this small bad thing in the service of the larger good I do."

If you're especially adept with this rationalization, you should be a politician, where your talents can find their greatest expression. As a journalist, you're just not being all you can be.
Read the rest.

(Oh, and I've been meaning to post on Eisler's very enjoyable -- and refreshingly cynical (and leftist) thrillers -- for a while, but, until I get around to it, let me note that they're a lot of fun. I started with this one, and it's probably still my favorite; this sample section (pdf link) sold me on it. Note that the NYT quotes are real.)

No comments: