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Journalism as caricature: The Rahmbo image

Rahm Emanuel's candidate may have won the presidency, but that didn't dull Emanuel's serrated edge.

"He's a guy who stabbed a steak knife into the table at Doe's restaurant after Bill Clinton's election," his former colleague Paul Begala recalls. "He was screaming about people screwing us in the campaign."

The media portrait of the man dubbed Rahmbo -- the foul-mouthed, take-no-prisoners, twist-your-arm-out-of-its-socket operative -- is grounded in reality. But it isn't the whole picture.

Most journalists, to some degree, are caricaturists. We may be interested in nuance and context, but the compression of reporting often reduces people to a couple of attributes at best. You know the shorthand: "tough-talking" and "aggressive," or "soft-spoken" and "mild-mannered."

Guess which sells better at the box office?

Read the rest here.

By Howard Kurtz  | October 10, 2010; 10:52 PM ET
Categories:  Latest stories, Top story  | Tags:  ABC, Bill Marimow, Ed Henry, MSNBC, Obama, Paul Begala, Phil Griffin, Philadelphia Inquirer, Rahm Emanuel, White House, journalism, media  
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Next: Cable news shrinks the electoral landscape

Comments

This is the problem with people; they feel the need to stick a "label" on someone even though no one label can possibly describe the complexity of a single person. Journalists who place labels on people rather than write about that person's multiple facets are not very good journalists and should find a job more suited to such one-dimesional thinking.

Posted by: ccs53 | October 11, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

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