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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Traditional Press in Free Fall 

Tigerhawk's story below noting the bipartisan critique of the American mainstream media for its abandonment of free expression in the Cartoon Intifada by Bill Bennett and Alan Dershowitz calls to mind the series of crises that have afflicted the television and newspaper journalism craft of late. I had my own reaction a few days back.

Let's review the list of crises, though I am sure the list is terribly incomplete, and in no particular order:

1) Eason Jordan, CNN News Chief, admits in a New York Times op-ed piece that CNN repressed news reporting from Iraq in order to maintain good relations with the Saddam Hussein ruling regime.

2) Dan Rather conducts an appalling, and fawning, prewar interview with Saddam Hussein.

3) Jayson Blair is outed for plagiarism and other ethical transgressions at the New York Times, leading to the ouster and replacement of its editor-in-chief.

4) Dan Rather, Mary Mapes, et. al. author a fraudulent report on George W. Bush's National Guard service, replete with faked and forged documentation. Mapes is fired, Rather retires, and Andrew Heyward (former head of CBS News) is gone within months.

5) Eason Jordan is reported to have accused the United States military of deliberately targeting journalists in Iraq (targeting as in trying to kill). He does this in front of a generally liberal, European audience gnerally opposed to the Iraq War. He offers no evidence to support his accusation. Of course, he doesn't have any. Bloggers are there to report it, as is Senator Barney Frank (D-Mass) who corroborates the blog reporting. Eason Jordan is gone a few weeks later. Interestingly, the organizers of Davos refuse to release the video or transacript of the remarks, repressing the information rather than letting sunlight in.

6) Newsweek authors a factually incorrect cover story accusing the US military at GITMO of desecrating the Koran. The story helps to launch riots, fires lots of anti-American raging. It is all BS.

7) Danish press publishes cartoons offensive to Muslims. After months of PR planning, radical Muslims launch "outrage riots" to repress free speech rights in Europe and around the world. Generally, it works. Virtually the entire mainstream media caves. Pathetic.

8) The NYT, defending itself against being scooped by its own reporter James Risen, chooses to publish information about a clandestine signals intelligence program orinted toward monitoring al Qaeda communications originating abroad into the US. The Justice Department is investigating.

9) Nicholas Kristof of the NYT publishes the first piece launching Plamegate, which incorrectly and controversially claims that Vice President Cheney authorized a CIA mission to Niger to investigate Iraq's purported efforts to acquire uranium in violation of its agreements with the UN. It is this false claim which elicits a response from the administration which now has Scooter Libby defending himself in what has now become, plainly, the non-story that it deserves to be.

This list is much longer, but I have a day job. What the hell is going on?

The traditional media is in free fall because they no longer practice what they preach -- they repress rather than encourage free speech. The mission use to be to seek the truth wherever it may lead. Today's media generally believes it knows the truth and publishes stories to support its version of it; perhaps just as ominously, it represses stories that don't support their version of the truth.

And the media consuming public fully knows this. This is why blogs like this and thousands of others exist. It is why broadcast news ratings are collapsing, why Fox's ratings have shot past CNN, why talkradio has exploded and why traditional newspapers are seeing their circulation plummet.

More to come...

4 Comments:

By Blogger Cassandra, at Thu Feb 23, 05:13:00 PM:

Ooooh CP. Don't you let Peter Daou here you say dat!

Then there's the WaPo letting Walter Pincus, a reporter cited in the SSCI investigation as having been one of the parties lied to by Joseph Wilson, continue to report on the PlameGate story, notably never bothering to mention in any of his stories that same SSCI investigation, nor the fact that it concluded Wilson had lied, not just to the Senate but to the WaPo.

One would think a paper with any shred of impartiality would question the propriety of letting someone actively involved in the unfolding story continue to report on it.... but no.

Got irony?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Feb 23, 07:40:00 PM:

You forgot to add that newly famous media-change advocate Jay Rosen over at PressThink hasn't written word one about the freedom of speech issue involved in the cartoon debacle.

Over at his site, where they're all about "citizens' journalism" they're still obsessing about Dick Cheney.

Some advocate for a free press he is.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Feb 24, 03:45:00 AM:

Another interesting threat/opportunity for the mainstream media is the rise of community news aggregators like News Bump.  

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