We conservatives are being cautioned repeatedly these days not to become too elated over the demise of mainstream newspapers. "Cork the champagne, sweep up the confetti, and put away the party hats," advised MSM journalist Rick Henderson recently in National Review Online. Newspapers are public watchdogs, he wrote, and no one else is ready to assume that mission. There‘s some truth to that, and, characteristically, some bias.
As watchdogs, newspapers aren't the Dobermans they once were. Liberalism increasingly dictates what they will and won't bark at, while shrinking staffs provide an ever-diminishing check on communities and governments. There's no reason to believe others won't step up in time and perform the job equally well or better once these monopolistic dinosaurs relinquish their hold on the local marketplace.
Nationally, newspapers have much to answer for. They didn't so much as growl before the two major calamities of the past 50 years: 9/11 (and the rise of radical Islam) and the economic crash that now engulfs us. Their first response to 9/11 was to blame America, absolve Islam and rush out to find examples of American racism toward Muslims (an ongoing project).
A forewarning on the economic crisis would have required, among other things, a critical examination of the sub-prime mess. That involves minorities, and that's restricted territory. On the other hand, agenda-driven stories about the racist practice of bankers, realtors and mortgage brokers were invariably front-page news and helped lay the foundation for this disaster.
And it didn't require the Obama candidacy to tell us that newspapers are virtually the house organs of the Democratic Party (which is why an industry bailout may soon be in the offing).
Yet MSM journalists continue to see no bias, hear no bias and speak no bias. Despite the extensive damage this problem has done to the industry and the profession, journalists refuse even to address the issue, let alone talk about remedies.
Even its conservative writers, such as columnist Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle, now on the Hearst Corporation endangered species list, find bias only on the public's part, split equally between right-wingers who "believe" there‘s liberal bias and the left-wingers "who think newspapers are not liberal enough."
"Newspapers are the public's referees as to which information is credible," Saunders wrote recently, apparently with a straight face. "You can go online and read no end of fiction and smear about public figures. But when you read content in a newspaper, you consistently can rely on it."
Unfortunately, she continues, a "growing number of people have decided that it is more important for their news to be pure than it is for the public to be informed."
What she refuses to see is that the public isn't being informed when the news is biased; it's being misinformed. That is why conservatives don't shed tears at newspaper funerals.
Not long ago journalists were champions of free speech. Now they routinely manipulate, ignore or suppress information. They've become the gatekeepers of multiculturalism and political correctness. The old saw that you can't believe everything you read in the newspaper has never been truer.