For Mainstream Media, Snoozing is Losing
For many mainstream journalists, legacy matters. Leaving a mark is the only ticket out of oblivion -- at least for a time. What legacies do reporters and editors have in, say, fifty years if they continue to flak for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party by not aggressively investigating the president's triple-header scandals?
Advocacy journalism dead-ends at Palookaville.
Fifty years from now, when the history of the Obama presidency is being written with the objectivity that distance affords, those news organizations and reporters who took the bones in their teeth and actually reported, who peeled back the onions to get at the crass politics, lies, and misuse of power by the president and his minions, will win laurels and places in the history books.
Forty years ago, two ambitious young reporters -- one named Woodward and the other Bernstein -- went after a story called Watergate. Their no-holds-barred investigation and reporting triggered the first and only resignation of a president. Today, Woodward and Bernstein are remembered; they remain the gold standard for investigative journalism.
The Washington Post's reputation was made because of Watergate; it's still a point of pride for Post executives and personnel. Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee are memorable for their unyielding backing of Woodward's and Bernstein's work.
Certainly, there was a partisan cast to Watergate. Democrats wanted to bring down Richard Nixon, and the mainstream media was sympathetic. But with the passage of time we see more clearly that Nixon was a complicated man, remote, secretive, and suffering from his own brand of hubris. Nixon created the circumstances for his downfall. Woodward's and Bernstein's investigation just gave Nixon a nudge.
"Nixon was a complicated man, remote, secretive, and suffering from his own brand of hubris." Hmm? Sound like the current White House occupant?
Today, there are new Woodwards and Bernsteins in the making, but they aren't at the Washington Post or the New York Times... or ABC, NBC, or CBS... or the wire services. Latter-day Woodwards and Bernsteins are at Fox News, The Washington Times, and the Wall Street Journal, notably. Or, perhaps, at the National Review, the Weekly Standard, Newsmax, and Breitbart. And conservative alternative media has go-getters playing their roles in outing Obama scandal stories.
Yes, there's Sharyl Attkisson at CBS News, who has won some plaudits for her reporting on the Obama scandals, but that's in the face of hostility from higher ups and the network's liberal culture. There's Jake Tapper at CNN and Jonathon Karl at ABC News (despite a recent dustup over an inaccurate attribution). The Washington Post has stepped up its reporting on the Obama scandals -- but nothing on the order of Watergate.
American Thinker Publisher and Editor Thomas Lifson opined in a blog entry:
Many conservatives have moved beyond caring what the Times thinks or writes. But the newspaper [the New York Times] acts as a pilot fish for the rest of the media, so its position on this move toward authoritarianism is highly significant. Particularly now that the Obama administration faces major scandals (with more to come), turning the media against itself may be a fatal error.
Could be. But the Times' editors are still smokescreening for the president. An editorial dated May 22 led with this:
Throughout months of Republican "investigation" into the tragedy in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 last year, the Central Intelligence Agency has escaped the scrutiny and partisan bashing aimed at the State Department and the White House. But we now know that the C.I.A., and not the State Department or the White House, originated the talking points that Republicans (wrongly) insisted were proof of a scandal. It was more central to the American presence in Benghazi.
Note the quotation marks around the word "investigation" and the use of the words "partisan bashing." And the focus on talking points to the exclusion of the lies told by Susan Rice and other administration officials in the wake of the Benghazi terrorist act. Or what the president and the secretary of state were doing the night of the attack. Note, too, the attempt by editors to make the Benghazi controversy about the talking points and the CIA's role in crafting them rather than the broader issues of executive responsibility, leadership, and truthfulness.
Diversions by the New York Times' editors aren't going to embolden reporters there to go after the deeper and more profound issues of Mr. Obama's and Ms. Clinton's leadership the night of the attack or in manufacturing a lie in the attack's aftermath and their stubborn insistence in perpetuating it.
As the Media Research Center reported on May 17:
Blame the victim! Twenty-three liberal news operations have taken that strategy about the IRS attack on conservative nonprofits. Fifteen of the 63 members of the left-wing Media Consortium have thrown their support behind the IRS's investigation. The 15 organizations either wrote or re-posted stories defending the IRS actions.
The bet is that the mainstream media will devote more coverage to Mr. Obama's scandals in the coming days. But the mainstreamers will continue to do so reactively (and protectively of the president). News breaking will remain in the hands of those outlets not encumbered by Obama Thrall or petty partisan or ideological calculations.
By the 2060s, the Obama and left-wing news media shills will either be old or dead, their names mostly forgotten. But remembered will be those reporters and editors who pursued the Obama scandals' stories tenaciously and fairly, going where the truth led, letting the chips fall where they may.