Posted by: mbtrotter | September 13, 2010

Liza Hearn is the investigative journalist we love to hate.


Covert Affairs premiered this summer on the USA cable network, and it brought with it a wonderful example of ever-changing public opinion of the press. In the pilot episode, protagonist and CIA newbie Annie Walker has barely walked into Langley when it’s revealed there’s a leak in the agency. And when there’s a leak in a work of fiction, you can be sure some form of big cheese is going to be talking to the reporter involved. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Liza Hearn, a reporter for the Washington Recorder.

She’s every journalist’s idol! She’s probably impressed everyone else, too. Assertive. Confident. Smart. Tired of Washington’s crap. And, of course, hot. The perfect investigative journalist.

Liza isn’t around for a few episodes, but when she returns, Arthur Campbell is upset.

Liza mentioned Arthur by name, even though he indicated what he said was off the record. To the disdain of the public, many journalists have an “it’s really, really good” exception to that agreement. But maybe Arthur’s threats get through to Liza and she’ll lie low for awhile.

Not a chance. Liza returns in the next episode, and she’s in a very different position than she’s been seen in so far in the series. A horizontal position, to be exact.

While we can’t be sure whether Auggie Anderson is the CIA leak, it’s pretty obvious Liza’s got a different definition of “working a source.” Even worse, she tells a blind guy he should get cable (in HD, no less!) so she can watch herself on Charlie Rose after these CIA stories make her a celebrity. She comes off as a despicable, fame-chasing skank. Maybe that’s why 56 percent of Americans view journalists unfavorably, according to Rasmussen Reports.

The latest episode showed more of that Liza.

Viewers didn’t even have to draw their own conclusions watching her that time. After clearing up any confusion about if she sees Auggie as a source by asking him for information, she came right out and said what everyone is probably thinking about journalists: “I’m a reporter. I’m pushy, inconsiderate. I don’t respect boundaries.”

It gets better than that, though. Liza is truly touched by Auggie calling her “a friend” when he feeds her false information on Arthur’s orders. When she finds out it’s fiction, she gets mad at him, completing the character development.

In less than a full season, the Liza Hearn character went from a trusted, no-nonsense government watchdog to a story-at-all-costs reporter who wouldn’t know ethics if they were her parents. And along that path of character development, the reflection of public opinion is pretty obvious.

When journalists are upstanding members of the fourth estate, everything’s fine, even if they bend the rules a little bit. So what if she named an off-the-record source? She’s doing important work!

But when journalists are seen as arrogant, manipulative and unethical, all bets are off. To be honest, I hate Liza right now, too.

All video in this post is the copyrighted material of NBC Universal and was purchased by the author for not-for-profit use.

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Responses

  1. Great analysis! This Hearn chick is no bueno. The sad thing is that many people would assume she is the rule, when we as journalists know she’s the exception.

  2. I agree…but have to say…when she showed up in Auggies apartment I was not surprised. This is typical of the manner in which TV portrays attractive female reporters. I am looking foreward to who the source will be.
    Dont worrry…Nurses have had the same problem for many years. We are either mean and ugly or dumb and sexy. Good thing we can all use our critical thinking skills when watching TV and applying it to our life!


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