The Peach

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Sunday, September 12, 2004

Why the Press Sucks On Politics

We lament every day about how lame the mainstream (formerly known as "liberal") press are at doing their jobs when it comes to the current political situation in our country. They never seem to know their facts, or if they do, they are nevertheless incapable of confronting public figures with obvious lies and half-truths.

They are obsessed with a notion of "balance" that only enables them to juxtapose competing perspectives, rather than presenting facts. Opposing viewpoints, no matter how extreme or bizarre are given precisely equal weight. Well-established facts are presented as partisan perspectives on the order of: "'The earth is round,' Kerry said."

MediaChannel has taken a shot at unpacking why this is the case, and they provide some useful insights, both into the Bush spin operation and some key shortcomings of today's journalists that leave them open to its machinations. The article notes that the press played a major role in the selling of the Iraq war to the American public, through its adoption of uniform storylines and partisan "facts" fed them by the administration, and through its failure to report thoroughly, raise questions and listen to dissenters.

Recently, some print outlets have done public mea culpas, citing their failure to dig deeper on the WMD claims and other specifics of the selling of Iraq. Yet this small degree of self-awareness has not enabled them to resist engaging in the same M.O. when it comes to covering the presidential campaign. We wonder what all those public editors and ombudsmen will be saying if Bush wins this time around. Will the media recognize how they abdicated their responsibility; Will there be the same pious self-flagellation as there has been in the wake of Iraq? Will anyone still be listening?

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