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February 04, 2005

Jordangate: Bigger Than Rathergate

And you know this, as Sherlock Holmes said, by the dog who didn't bark.

The media is embargoing this story, as noted by Captain's Quarters and Kausfiles. (More on Kausfiles' prescience later.)

I don't have Lexis/Nexis, but I do have Google. Let's compare the media's reaction to two different controversial recent remarks.

This search -- for "Dobson Spongebob," for Dobson's largely deliberately misquoted remarks about Spongebob Squarepants being gay -- turns up a fair number of MSM articles. CNN, The New York Times, MSNBC, BBC News -- all weigh in on how horrible it was for Dobson to not claim that Spongebob Squarepants was gay (although of course the party line is that's precisely what he said).

On the other hand, this search -- "Eason Jordan Davos target journalists" -- turns up nothing but blog references, at least for the first five pages. (I assume an MSM source would at least make it to the first five pages.)

Why the interest in the first story and the glaring disinterest in the second?

The simple truth is obvious. The media is an near-oligopoly of interlocked corporations, the same as auto manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, or cigarette makers. They claim their first priority is reporting the truth to the American people-- but then, car makers claim their first priority is delivering the best-made, most-affordable cars to the American people, too.

In fact, the first priorities of anyone in a corporate culture are 1) protect and advance your own career; 2) curry favor with those who can help with priority 1; 3) protect and advance the corporation generally, as that will advance priorities 1 and 2; and 4) protect and advance the industry generally, as you never know when you'll wind up working for another corporation within the industry, and doing so advances priorities 1, 2, and 3.

Just as in Rathergate, the media was far behind the curve in reporting on the egregiously-bad hoaxes perpertrated by CBSNews; the Boston Globe wen so far as to deliberately mischaracterize an expert's remarks (as were correctly reported by Bill from InDC). The media had a corporate and industry interest in avoiding the story, and, once avoiding it became impossible, defending it (and themselves, generally) from external critique and attack.

And so it goes. We are now on Day 7 after Eason Jordan "reported" that the American military had targeted and murdered 12 journalists in Iraq, and the MSM has not seen fit to report this story at all.

Either the story is true or it is not. If it is true, then where are the enormous, "flood-the-zone" resources that such a story would demand? Why are we not hearing about ace reporters being assigned to crack this outrage wide open?

And, if it's not true -- as of course it's not; after all, if it were true, why hasn't Eason Jordan's CNN already reported on it -- then the MSM must knock it down, and furthermore must castigate Eason Jordan in the sharpest terms possible for grossly violating journalistic standards in relaying unsubstantiated rumors as fact.

If this were a more trivial matter -- if a less-senior media type had merely trafficked in unsubstantiated allegations about, say, Brad & Jen's sex life -- they'd have little compunction about throwing the red flag.

But this is big. Eason Jordan is big. CNN is big. His allegations are huge.

The media is therefore trying to simply make the story go away by ignoring it.

A pattern that has become far too common.

As has been said of big corporations faced with possible bankrupcy-- Eason Jordan and CNN are too big to fail. Or to be allowed to fail, actually; they've already failed, of course. The public just can't be allowed to know this.

The Devil and Howard Kurtz: For a long time, Mickey Kaus has questioned the independence of Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz. He's noted, repeatedly, that as Kurtz is also on the payroll of CNN -- hosting its "Reliable Sources" program -- he's not quite free to comment candidly on CNN's breaches.

And one of Howie Kurtz's biggest schticks, of course, is the old "conflict of interest." Kaus has noted, until it's put me to sleep, that Kurtz is in fact hopelessly conflicted as regards CNN.

I never much cared about this issue before, and I tended to just gloss over Kaus' umpteenth bitchfest about the situation. Too inside baseball, too ticky-tack.

Well, it turns out that Kaus was right all along, wasn't he?

As Kaus notes, Day 7 of Jordangate and still not one whisper of a mention from Howie Kurtz.

Bear in mind: This is precisely the sort of story that Howie Kurtz covers. In fact, this is one of the juicier media stories to come down the pike since, well, Rathergate. And yet-- not even a mention!

But have no fear! Howie Kurtz sends Jim Geraghty a brief reply to a query informing him "We are taking a look."

A long, long, long look, it seems like. Perhaps Kurtz will complete his look once Jordan steps down, or Kurtz ends his association with CNN.

Great Minds... Insta-Man has a similar take.


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posted by Ace at 06:31 PM

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