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February 15, 2005

Tim Blair Beats Me To the Punch

How many government officials and business executives have lost their jobs due to the media reporting (occasionally selectively) on their malfeasance?

Quite a few, I think. And yet the media never shed tears about this; it's quite necessary, they assure us. They are the watchdogs, and sometimes watchdogs need to take a bite. And sometimes those bites costs people their jobs and even ruin careers.

I think that's more or less true, although I also think that "investigative journalists" tend to sweeten their stories for maximum impact-- making for a more dramatic story, with more clear malfeasance, than a straight reporting of the facts might show.

But now several journalists have lost their jobs due to their malfeasances being investigated and critiqued and publicized by bloggers and other alternative media sources.

And now we have David Gergen blubbering like a heartbroken eighth-grader about how tremendously unfair this is. Others suggest it might even be a danger to democracy itself.

I grow tired of the media suggesting, implicitly or explicitly, that it is the one institution (well, maybe apart from the UN) that requires no outside monitoring or criticism -- no checks and balances, no external reviews or investigations -- in the entire damn-bastard world.

Howell Raines, Dan Rather, and Eason Jordan all committed gross malfeasance during their tenures. Were they CEO's of failing companies, who had made poor decisions that cost their shareholders money and their employees jobs, the media would of course have little qualms about exposing them and driving them from office.

And yet the media whines about this. Yet another double-standard which, shockingly enough, inures to their advantage: We can ask questions and investigate and even harass whoever we think is doin' wrong; but don't anyone dare put the same sort of harsh spotlight on us.

If investigation is good -- if external review is good -- if bringing attention to gross malfeasance is generally a good thing when the media is doing the investigating, how on earth can they claim with a straight face that such investigations are a threat to our very way of democracy when they're the ones being investigated?

Tim Blair dissects a NYT piece whining about the scary new world of the watchmen themselves being watched.

The New York Times cries:

In September, conservative bloggers exposed flaws in a report by Dan Rather; he subsequently announced that on March 9 he would step down as anchor of the “CBS Evening News.” On Friday, after nearly two weeks of intensifying pressure on the Internet, Eason Jordan, the chief news executive at CNN, abruptly resigned after being besieged by the online community. Morever, last week liberal bloggers forced a sketchily credentialed White House reporter to quit his post.

To which Blair responds:

This story could have been written at any time in the past forty years. Simply change a few words and you’d have a piece about politicians/builders/executives/whoever “abruptly resigning” after “being besieged by the journalistic community.” Certain footwear now resides on an alternate pedal extremity, and journalists don’t like it.

As John McClane said: "Welcome to the party, pals."

Scrutiny is a good thing. Journalists tell us this everytime they collect one of their own scalps.

They cannot now claim that scrutiny is bad, at least when that scrutiny is fixed on their own errors and lapses.


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posted by Ace at 11:54 AM

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