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January 12, 2005

Rathergate & The Death of The American Media Party

Glenn Reynolds links two worth-reading pieces and comments on them.

From a Howie Kurtz piece:

"In any fair-minded assessment of how CBS performed and why they so badly butchered their own standards, [political bias] has to be part of the explanation," said former New York Times reporter Steve Roberts, now a professor at George Washington University. "It's not just that they wanted to be first, they wanted to be first with a story that was critical of the president."

Meanwhile, Howard Finemann, who's liberal (of course) but fairly non-objectionable, notes the age of "mainstream" (i.e., center-liberal) media dominance is at an end:

In this situation, the last thing the ["American Mainstream Media Party"] needed was to aim wildly at the president — and not only miss, but be seen as having a political motivation in attacking in the first place. Were Dan Rather and Mary Mapes after the truth or victory when they broadcast their egregiously sloppy story about Bush's National Guard Service? The moment it made air it began to fall apart, and eventually was shredded by factions within the AMMP itself, conservative national outlets and by the new opposition party that is emerging: The Blogger Nation. It's hard to know now who, if anyone, in the "media" has any credibility.

And, as Walter Cronkite would say, that's the way it is.

Howard Finemann joins other legacy media scribes in a ritual I'm sanguine about: petting the wolverines.

He realizes that this alternate media/blog thing isn't going away-- at least not soon. It's part of the new normal in the media, and their previous efforts to simply ignore and demean just haven't worked.

A new strategy, then: co-optation.

And let's face it, most bloggers are easily co-opted, if I can use myself as an example. We hate the legacy media, but we do wish to be acknowledged by it; we're a bit like the geeks who both hate the popular kids and yet long to be accepted by them.

It doesn't take much to make the geeks loathe you less: just a nice word here and there is enough. (Alas, we should be more demanding, but human nature is what it is.)

And so another instance of the major media petting the wolverines, giving them a nice scritch behind the ears to keep them from going into berserker-blood-fury mode.

It works-- a little. I've always liked Finemann, despite the fact that he frequently writes sorta boringly down-the-middle pox-on-both-houses safe think-pieces for Newsweek; he is a decent reporter, though. And petting the wolverines will probably earn him a little extra goodwill.

But such gestures aren't really enough. Bloggers crave validation and acceptance, but much more than that, we crave a genuinely fair-and-balanced media which either jettisons its centrist-liberal Democratic agenda or at least forthrightly announces that agenda and admits that its reportage is colored by its desire to see the "right people" and "right ideas" prevail.

Petting the wolverines will calm them some, but at some point, a wolverine's got to eat. That's the nature of the beast.

Sharks Need Petting Too Update: And Stefan "Shark" Sharkansky gets a little nose-rub from the Seatle Post-Intelligencer.

Loose Shit: Well, I managed to misspell just about everyone's name in this piece originally. I think my spelling has integrity and conscious now, though.

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posted by Ace at 02:47 PM

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