Friday, January 20, 2012

MEDIA CANNIBALS

"What, in your view, are the bombshells here?"

Unlike some on the right, I welcome dirt dug up on candidates, particularly early on in the election like this. The more information people have the earlier, the better they'll understand as they go on and by the time election comes around it won't be a shock but just something they know. Even dirt like a bitter ex wife grousing about Newt Gingrich, as long as its true and real.

But like everyone on the right, I can't stand the inequity on how these stories are covered. President Obama's many problems were largely skated over by the press in the 2008 election season in a blatant attempt to protect him and get him elected.

What doesn't make sense to me is how the press puts up with the treatment they get from President Obama. The slightest negative story, or even one that remotely questions the Obama administration immediately is met by phone calls and emails demanding changes or that these kind of stories never be told again.

Even worse, the slightest criticism of the Obama administration in a book is met with hostility, not only by the president's team but other journalists. An editorial at Investor's Business Daily gives some examples:
Kantor's book, "The Obamas," is hardly some right-wing hit piece. She's a New York Times correspondent who spent years interviewing hundreds of Obama staffers and associates to compile a book focused on Michelle and Barack's relationship and the inner workings of the White House.

But Kantor did manage to unearth some less than flattering tidbits, such as the Halloween extravaganza the Obamas threw themselves in 2009 — when unemployment was 10% — and then hushed up; or the strife between Michelle and former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel; or the fact that former press secretary Robert Gibbs "had a tense relationship" with the first lady.

There's nothing particularly earth-shattering in any of this, but it was enough to set the White House at Defcon 1, launching an "early and often" attack on the book that culminated with Michelle's complaint that it made her look like "an angry black woman."

And that was enough to get Obama's media goon squad to start attacking Kantor.

CNN's Soledad O'Brien dutifully followed the White House spin, ripping into Kantor and ranting, "You have not interviewed her. You have not interviewed her!"

Piers Morgan later called Kantor a "controversial author" and suggested the focus on Michelle was unfair, since she's not president. (Morgan apparently missed the media's fixation on Nancy Reagan.)

The Washington Post's Erik Wemple said Kantor had "abandoned her journalist senses" and turned in a half-baked tome with unreliable revelations because she got paid big bucks in advance.
He goes on to show how Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind got the same treatment for his book.

Now, its one thing for a president to be overly sensitive and try to be on top of their publicity. And I can see why the press, terrified of Republicans and eager to protect their creature would be sensitive to the president's demands for positive treatment. But nothing in journalism should lead them to viciously attack each other for daring to point out something problematic.

Politicians and those in power are the natural prey of journalists, or at least ought to be. They used to be in the past. That's part of the reason that journalism is called the "fourth estate;" they are supposed to be a force to stop corruption, incompetence, and abuse of power by those in government.

Journalism used to be the last place you could go to hope to stop someone who is doing wrong. If the cops were bought off, if the feds were disinterested, if the government was leaning on law enforcement, you could always take it to the media. They'd get the story out and heads would roll. how many thrillers and suspense movies and books are based on this principle? How many movies have you seen where the hero handing the tape over to the press was the end, fading away with the presumption that the bad guy was doomed because the mighty press had the evidence?

Yet today, if that bad guy is a Democrat, chances are the story gets buried. If the problem is from President Obama, the story gets ignored. There are no crusading reporters any longer in mainstream journalism. The only folks left like that are ones like James O'Keefe, who is a wild man doing his own thing, or Andrew Breitbart who runs a little media empire built all around stopping abuses in government and the press.

Media is supposed to support their fellow journalists for telling the truth. If you have a good story, honestly told, about facts, then nothing is supposed to stop a reporter or a news story, no matter who it hurts - or benefits. But that principle has been totally abandoned.

Its no wonder that newspaper circulations are cratering, news show audiences are disappearing, and news magazine operations sell for a buck. They've totally lost their way, their purpose for existence.

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