Sponsored Content
Another Six Words I Never Thought I'd Write: Pat Sajak Is On Fuckin' Fire | Main | Wednesday Is Made For Self-Promotion
December 01, 2004

Rather's Ruin

Yes, I know I keep returning to this issue, much like a 47-year-old potbellied insurance salesman who never stops talking about that high-school game where he scored a 40 yard touchdown on a screen pass.

But humor me, just as you'd humor that guy, maybe occasionally saying "Tell me again about the part where you juked the last safety between you and goal-line." Yeah, you've heard about that (and his "key forearm shiver") six billion times, but what the hell, he's buying you drinks, right?

Chris Weinkopf stumbles across a dead horse and decides maybe there's something to be gained from kicking it after all:

In the days when the establishment media had an iron grip on public discourse, it was almost impossible to challenge their biases. Dan Rather and company insisted they were simply objective observers, exemplary public servants untainted by political agenda or shoddy research. Now the public knows otherwise.

Are many bloggers politically motivated? Of course. But, unlike CBS, they are honest about it. And they must defend their opinions in a fiercely competitive marketplace of ideas.

That was rarely the case with the elite media, a closed and intellectually homogeneous priesthood whose members came to believe their opinions were Gospel truth.

This was not a complicated case: Within hours of CBS's airing of the story, some gifted amateurs in Middle-western suburbs had proven that the documents could not be genuine. CBS had enthusiastically embraced the flimsy claims that Bush had failed to live up to his National Guard duties simply because most everyone in the elite-media circle wanted to believe them.

Or, as the Los Angeles Times' editorial page pontificated: "CBS's real error was trying to prove a point that didn't need to be proved."

But as "The Decline and Fall of Dan Rather" showed, reporters who derive evidence from their political conclusions, instead of the other way around, won't have free rein anymore. Thanks to blogs and other "new" media, the prejudices of the old media princes will no longer go unquestioned.

It's about time.

I've made this point before, but, as I'm repeating myself anyway, what the hell. (Double rock and rye for my good and patient friend here.)

The media understands that all professions protect their own. Sure, there's the occasional whistleblower (or, more frequently, a disgruntled employee who's not quite credible), but by and large all professions protect each other from outside scrutiny.

Cops do it. Lawyers do it. Doctors do it. (It's hard to find a a very reputable doctor willing to serve as an expert against another doctor in a malpractice case, except in the most egregrious cases; a lot of times malpractice lawyers have to settle for "doctors" whose main profession is no longer medicine but serving as expert witnesses.) CEO's do it.

The media claims that it is the one institution capable of self-policing. When a blogger or other outsider dares to question their integrity, they react.... well, they react in the same angry, defensive, "How dare you!" kind of way that CEO's react when Mike Wallace starts making thinly-sourced allegations against them.

The media polices all other professions. But who polices the media? There are media critics, to be sure, but they themselves are part of the profession. They are not true outsiders; they depend, ultimately, on the goodwill of the profession as a whole to continue earning their livelihood.

And so it goes that even when Dan Rather makes a clear and unconscionable error -- and then refuses to even admit forthrightly that he was wrong -- the other media trolls rally round him, protecting him from the sort of castigation that they would surely inflict on, say, a Pentagon contractor engaging in analogous misbehavior.

Bloggers aren't part of the media caste; we're not in the Old Boy's Club. Truth be told, most of us would like to be, and yet there is, for most of us, such a small chance of that ever happening as to be too trivial to corrupt.

If the media believes that they have a vital role to play as the nation's self-appointed watch-dogs, then certainly they must admit there is useful and good for someone to be watch-dogging them, as well. After all, it is the watch-dogging that is important, not the fact that a particular caste of northeastern liberals is doing the job.

Their self-righteous blatherings about being the "fourth estate" providing an important check on the government (and everyone else, for that matter) sound awfully hypocritical when they react so passionately and nastilly to anyone who dares to provide a check on them.

Update: The report is scheduled to be released December 10th, but will probably begin leaking this week.

And Jay Leno's been having a field day with Dan Rather.

Here are a couple of good ones:

"I’m sure you heard about this - the Republicans have won yet another
seat: Dan Rather’s! He’s leaving CBS."

"Dan Rather said stepping down was the hardest thing he ever had to
announce in his career. Actually, the second-hardest. The hardest thing he
had to announce? Bush being re-elected."

"Dan Rather said today that his decision to retire has nothing to do
with the controversy over those fake National Guard documents. That’s
kind of like Yasser Arafat saying his decision to step down had nothing to
do with him dying."

digg this
posted by Ace at 04:57 PM

| Access Comments

Recent Comments
Lurking Cheshirecat: "back to content ..."

Cicero (@cicero43): "John Muir was the schnizz. ..."

Lurking Cheshirecat: "Missed. ..."

AlaBAMA: "Someone farted in the elevator. ..."

Bertram Cabot, Jr.: "The House passed the Debt bill. ..."

AZ deplorable moron: "Good evening CBD! Hope you have had an excellent ..."

Diogenes: "Too five. ..."

Nightwatch: "You all are beyond tazing the funny bone tonight.. ..."

Walter Freeman: "Mhmm. ..."

Cicero (@cicero43): "Wooo hooo! ..."

AlaBAMA: "Democracy is saved. Posted by: Cicero (@cicero43) ..."

AZ deplorable moron: " Circus continues. Posted by: AlaBAMA at May 31, ..."

Recent Entries

Polls! Polls! Polls!
Frequently Asked Questions
The (Almost) Complete Paul Anka Integrity Kick
Top Top Tens
Greatest Hitjobs

The Ace of Spades HQ Sex-for-Money Skankathon
A D&D Guide to the Democratic Candidates
Margaret Cho: Just Not Funny
More Margaret Cho Abuse
Margaret Cho: Still Not Funny
Iraqi Prisoner Claims He Was Raped... By Woman
Wonkette Announces "Morning Zoo" Format
John Kerry's "Plan" Causes Surrender of Moqtada al-Sadr's Militia
World Muslim Leaders Apologize for Nick Berg's Beheading
Michael Moore Goes on Lunchtime Manhattan Death-Spree
Milestone: Oliver Willis Posts 400th "Fake News Article" Referencing Britney Spears
Liberal Economists Rue a "New Decade of Greed"
Artificial Insouciance: Maureen Dowd's Word Processor Revolts Against Her Numbing Imbecility
Intelligence Officials Eye Blogs for Tips
They Done Found Us Out, Cletus: Intrepid Internet Detective Figures Out Our Master Plan
Shock: Josh Marshall Almost Mentions Sarin Discovery in Iraq
Leather-Clad Biker Freaks Terrorize Australian Town
When Clinton Was President, Torture Was Cool
What Wonkette Means When She Explains What Tina Brown Means
Wonkette's Stand-Up Act
Wankette HQ Gay-Rumors Du Jour
Here's What's Bugging Me: Goose and Slider
My Own Micah Wright Style Confession of Dishonesty
Outraged "Conservatives" React to the FMA
An On-Line Impression of Dennis Miller Having Sex with a Kodiak Bear
The Story the Rightwing Media Refuses to Report!
Our Lunch with David "Glengarry Glen Ross" Mamet
The House of Love: Paul Krugman
A Michael Moore Mystery (TM)
The Dowd-O-Matic!
Liberal Consistency and Other Myths
Kepler's Laws of Liberal Media Bias
John Kerry-- The Splunge! Candidate
"Divisive" Politics & "Attacks on Patriotism" (very long)
The Donkey ("The Raven" parody)
Powered by
Movable Type 2.64