November 28, 2012

At National Journal, Fournier’s New Role Involves ‘Moving the Needle’ in ‘Reporting’

Well, at least he isn’t shy about it.

According to Dylan Byers at Politico, the National Journal’s Ron Fournier is going to “step down as editor-in-chief” and moving to “a role as editorial director.” Before joining that publication in June 2010, Fournier worked at the Associated Press for a total of over 20 years in two different stints. In an email response to Politico yesterday, Fournier elaborated on the motivation behind his move (bolds are mine throughout this post):

I want to let you know that this is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I realized during the campaign how much I miss reporting and writing. I’ve been leading newsrooms for a while now and it’s been an honor serving as Editor in Chief of NJ. But I really think that my best shot at moving the needle in politics is by getting close to it – by reading, reporting, tweeting and writing. We’re living in an era of unprecedented change, and I want to be a part of documenting it. This new role will allow me to help out on strategic planning while giving me freedom to get back to the basics.

As Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds asked this morning: “Remember when journalism was about reporting when the needle moved?”

Wikipedia describes Fournier as “conservative-leaning,” and offers as evidence two items which prove nothing.

First, Fournier was given some degree of consideration for a position with John McCain’s presidential campaign. After being approached by McCain in 2006, according to a Politico story almost two years later (!), “He did us the courtesy of considering the offer before politely declining it,” (McCain adviser Mark) Salter said. How this is relevant to Fournier’s “conservatism” is a mystery, especially given that when left-leaning reporters have actually moved back and forth from the Obama administration and leftist think tanks and PR firms, the press insists that it proves nothing about their biases.

The second is that Fournier had the gall to assert in 2008 in an analysis piece that President Obama’s pick of Joe Biden as his vice-presidential running mate “shows (a) lack of confidence.” Leftists believe this work “proves” something because it happened to make an assertion other conservatives were making (so?), and because (oh the humanity!) it was actually linked by a number of conservative outlets and blogs (again, so?).

Even if one swallows the blather about Fournier’s alleged conservatism (which will be completely debunked in short order), his impact at the Associated Press as Washington Bureau Chief during the last few years of the previous decade was to unleash his reporters’ predominantly leftist instincts to an unprecedented degree. He did this by trotting out a concept he called “accountability journalism,” justified as follows:

(Link) “There’s a bigger need for this kind of journalism than ever,” he said. “The public is losing faith.” Fournier rattled off a list of institutions, including organized religion, government, media, the military, big business and the courts, in which recent Pew polls show public confidence at all-time lows. “It’s our responsibility,” he said, “to step into that breach and say, ‘Hey, what the hell is going on here?’”

(Link) Katrina made a believer out of me. I had always known that The Associated Press played a role in holding public officials accountable, but it took a killer hurricane and an incompetent, arrogant government response to make me realize this is no mere role. It’s an obligation, a liberating one at that.

The Iraq war, the war on terror, the federal budget deficit, the crushing cost of entitlements, the rising cost of health care, crumbling infrastructure and the horrendous state of the American public school system –- these and other generational crises must be addressed by the leaders we cover or future generations will suffer. So how do we hold our leaders accountable?

Ron, your primary job as Washington Bureau chief was to report what was happening so that our representatives could hold the executive branch accountable, and so that voters could in turn hold them accountable. Nobody is “accountable” to you and your “journalists” (and pretending that they are is certainly not a “conservative” position). Every minute your people spent writing utter garbage like “Everything seemingly is spinning out of control” was a minute taken away from communicating important facts to your subscribing outlets’ readers, listeners, and viewers.

A look at a several of Fournier’s National Journal offerings during October and November shows no evidence of anything even resembling genuine conservatism in his mindset:

Nov. 16; “Romney Gave America 5 ‘Gifts’” — Fournier credits “sour grapes” Mitt Romney, not the relentlessly race-baiting Obama campaign, for playing “the race card” because Romney opposed the administration’s attempt to loosen traditional welfare’s work requirement, for “class war” by noting that 47% of Americans don’t pay income tax (but erroneously believing he couldn’t reach them), and (yes) fomenting “civil war.”

Oct. 29; “Racial Prejudice in the Election, and Why the Campaigns Are Ignoring It” — Fournier buys into his former employer’s “by God, we’ve got a point we’re going to make and we’re going to make it no matter how we have to twist the facts” exercise (which involved both polling and the use of questionable psych-inspired techniques) supposedly showing that America (really only addressing white America) is more racist now than it was four years ago. As I noted at the time. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign’s media acolytes were openly playing the race and racism cards against Romney utterly without basis — and without comment from Fournier.

Oct. 4; “Incumbent Debate Curse: Barack Obama Falls to Mitt Romney” — after the first presidential debate, an Obama excuse-making Fournier wrote: “Call it the curse of incumbency. Like many of his predecessors, President Obama fell victim Wednesday night to high expectations, a short fuse, and a hungry challenger.” As I observed at the time: “I half expected him to claim that the dog ate President Obama’s debate prep.”

As Fournier goes back to “moving the needle,” I don’t expect to seen him trying to push it to the right very much, if at all.

Cross-posted at



  1. [...] In an amusing, and surprise, followup to some comments I made on “journalists” earlier this morning, I see Tom Blumer’s BizzyBlog is fisking one Ron Fournier, who is described as a ‘conservative.’ [...]

    Pingback by Off Topic But Amusing: Former AP “reporter” Called “Conservative,” Wants To “move the needle” | Extrano's Alley, a gun blog — November 28, 2012 @ 10:49 am

  2. [...] At National Journal, Fournier’s New Role Involves ‘Moving the Needle’ in ‘Reporting’ [...]

    Pingback by At National Journal, Fournier’s New Role Involves ‘Moving the Needle’ in ‘Reporting’ | PERSUASION IN INK — November 28, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

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