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November 05, 2007

Tony Snow Carves Up The Media In Thin, Bloody Slices

So delicious. They pay $400 a pound for this sort of quality red meat in Japan.

The First Amendment, as others have noted, serves as the foundation for the enterprise, and supports reporters in their quest for truth .- or at least for serviceable facts that in time might lead them toward some reasonable facsimile of truth.

We also hear that the First Amendment is under siege. I think that´s true. I don´t believe anyone here would disagree with the proposition that the quality of public discourse isn´t what it once was or that it presently achieves levels of excellence and depth that it desperately needs to reach.

Yet, while it may be tempting to blame the usual suspects — the government, interest groups, angry factionalists — those forces frequently have always tried to restrict the free flow of ideas, and they always have failed.

They´re not the culprits here. Instead, there´s a new and unexpected menace on the block:

The media.


Political rhetoric has turned nasty, childish, and very personal, especially on Capitol Hill, and Americans are sick of it. Hotheads seem to be enjoying a false spring of fame. And members of the mainstream press are scratching their heads and asking, “What´s going on here?” Why are the nation´s newspapers hemorrhaging readers? Why are the television networks losing viewers? Why has cable news suddenly hit still water? What is going on? Don´t Americans care about the news?

Well, of course they do: The problem is, they don´t think they´re getting news — and they´re right.


Reporters and editors for three decades have sneered at accusations of bias, as if the claim were novel — it is not — unthinkable — it is not — or false — which it also is not.

And what about conventional wisdom? For months, the media avoided asking about progress in Iraq. Despite repeated reports from the field that Iraqis had turned against al Qaeda, the news seldom made it into newspapers, and almost never on front pages. Last week, the military reported that civilian deaths in Iraq had hit their lowest point since 2003. U.S. and Iraqi deaths and casualties similarly had declined. So what led the paper the next morning? Stories about Blackwater. The statistics that put the war in perspective were relegated to the back pages of the Washington Post and in some publications, to oblivion.

A vigorous press must be one in which reporters challenge their own sympathies and assumptions as aggressively as they challenge the sympathies and assumptions of others. Unfortunately, that too seldom happens, with the consequence that opinion-mongering has driven out straight news.

Remember how the media crowed when a survey showed FoxNews had reduced Iraq coverage when the war was going badly for America?

Are they crowing now?

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posted by Ace at 04:25 PM

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