Liberals wage many battles, but have you heard which one is the major struggle now? Brace yourselves; it’s the campaign “against the established media and it’s bizarre relationship with the right-wing and the truth.” That’s from the Daily Kos, a popular liberal blog. No, it’s not a satire. Just when conservatives thought they were getting somewhere against the entrenched liberalism of the newsroom culture, it turns out that the newsroom has been reactionary all along; the real lonely insurgents fighting for media balance and truth are liberals. The mind reels.
Some on the left-Eric Alterman, for one-acknowledge that journalists tend to be reflexively liberal on social issues, but not on economic matters, where the values of the media’s corporate ownership usually prevail. Maybe so, but that is not what is being said now. In its anger and frustration, the left, led by its Deaniac base, is loudly arguing that the news media reliably reflect the values of Washington Republicans. Rem Rieder, editor of the American Journalism Review, summed it up: “The left has the MSM (mainstream media) squarely in its sights.”
Two skirmishes are under way, one against the Washington Post and its ombudsman, Deborah Howell, the other against Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s Hardball. Howell’s offense was writing that the sleazy Jack Abramoff had given money to Democrats as well as Republicans. That was inaccurate. A tide of angry and exceptionally abusive complaints flooded into the Post. Howell then corrected herself, writing that she should have said that Abramoff “directed” a considerable amount of his clients’ money to Democrats, though he never gave any himself. That was correct, but vicious and amazingly obscene email kept pouring in, so the Post shut down its web site. (Not a good idea, in my opinion. It would have been better, though more expensive, to let readers vent, while editing out obscenities.)