Respected Journalist Mike Barnicle Calls Blogging Not Journalism, ‘Basically Therapy’

The Atlantic‘s Ta-Nehisi Coates points us to a post by Think Progress’ Matthew Yglesias that features a telling exchange among Mike Barnicle, Mika Brzezinski and Pat Buchanan from yesterday morning’s Morning Joe on MSNBC.

The noted television pundits were discussing Alaska Governer Sarah Palin’s comments about the press as well as about bloggers from the up-coming issue of Esquire, in which she called them," Bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers who lie annoy me."

Here’s a transcript of the chat per Mr. Yglesias:

BARNICLE: [S]omeone ought to tell governor [Sarah] Palin that there’s a distinction between blogging and what she refers to as journalism. Blogging—

MIKA: Is not journalism!

BARNICLE: I would say 95%; maybe 99% of blogging is basically therapy for the blogger.

MIKA: And it’s anonymous, isn’t it?

BARNICLE: Yeah. You know.

BUCHANAN: Right. Writing letters. Getting it off —

As The Atlantic‘s Mr. Coates quipped, "Yes that crack reporter Pat Buchanan…"

But Mr. Barnicle, on the other hand, surely knows the difference between bloggers who just "get off" and real pavement-pounding journalists. He was, according to his own Web site, a columnist for The Boston Herald, The New York Daily News, and The Boston Globe for whom wrote "4,000 columns collectively."

His bio doesn’t mention, however, that he’s been accused repeatedly of being a plagiarist and a fabricator. In April 1998, Salon’s Tom Mashberg reported that Mr. Barnicle was busted for repurposing parts of George Carlin’s book Brain Droppings in a column without crediting his source. Mr. Barnicle told reporters at the time that he was "sloppy" and "lazy" but insisted he hadn’t read Mr. Carlin’s book.

Mr. Mashberg recounted seven other instances of Mr. Barnicle ripping off other writers (including legends like A.J. Liebling and Mike Royko) and writing about persons whom Boston Magazine—which enlisted the help of a private investigator—could not find.

Writing about Mr. Barnicle’s hiring at The Daily News in March 1999, The New York Times‘ Felicity Barringer quoted an anonymous News editor saying, "there is a large body of opinion that worries that having an alleged plagiarist on the staff is not the smartest thing for our paper to do."

So, hey, when it comes to knowing the rules of journalism—and how bloggers just don’t play ‘em—Mike Barnicle knows. Mike Barnicle wrote the book on journalistic ethics, okay.

At least we think he did.