Can nothing spare us from the arrogance of liberal media figures, still parading around as Guardians of the Facts and Solely Anointed Professional Disseminators of the Truth?
Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank, in what reads like an early April Fools' prank, has written an article for the Post's Sunday "Outlook" section presenting himself as an objective reporter. The headline was "My Bias for Mainstream News." In it, he complains that the "cottage industry" of watchdog groups on the right and left "are devoted almost entirely to attacking the press."
The most priceless sentence is this: "Regardless of the merits, the pervasive accusations of bias are making it increasingly difficult for the traditional media to play their role of gathering and reporting facts." Media critics are wrong to criticize, regardless of the merits of their criticism? Well, yes, you see, because Milbank believes their nefarious goal is to "steer readers and viewers toward ideologically driven outlets that will confirm their own views and protect them from disagreeable facts."
The term "media elite" has its roots in insular thinking like this.
Let's take a brief look at what those of us on the alleged fact-unfriendly front have reported on Milbank lately. On Feb. 28, the Media Research Center's Brent Baker noted that Milbank misled Post readers when reporting on Page One that Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld had rudely left a Feb. 16 House hearing when he had "had enough." Milbank's whole story was devoted to creating -- actually, enhancing -- the perception that Rumsfeld is a contemptuous jerk. Congressman Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, which was holding the hearing, wrote a letter to the Post explaining he and Rumsfeld agreed in advance the hearings would last only three hours because he had another hearing commitment before the Senate. "Therefore, the article's suggestion that he got mad and left did a disservice to the truth and to the secretary."
The Post didn't publish the letter or issue a correction. Mr. Milbank, permission to criticize?
In the biggest media controversy of 2004 -- Dan Rather's unverifiable National Guard memos about President Bush -- were the mainstream media acting as Guardians of The Facts? Apparently, this is unimportant. Regardless of the merits, it is the critics who blew the whistle on CBS's fraud who are to be faulted.