In light of the current torrent of public discussion about John Kerry and his Vietnam record, it can't be too long before the barons of the established mainline media will be dragged into a people's court for a show trial in which they may feel the urge to confess to their insufficiently inquiring journalistic minds. Luckily for them, this is America, and after their confessions there will be no gulags in their future -- only the re-write desk.
Mark the calendar. August 2004 is the first time that the major mainline media -- CBSNBCABCNEWYORKTIMESWASHINGTONPOST
PRESSETC. -- ignored a news story that nonetheless became known by two-thirds of the country within two weeks of it being mentioned by the "marginal" press.
It was only after a CBS poll showed that Kerry had lost a net 14 percent of the veteran's vote to Bush -- without aid of major media coverage or substantial national advertising -- that the major media outlets began to lumber, resentfully, in the vague direction of the story. And even then, they hardly engaged themselves in the spirit of objective journalism.
According to Editor and Publisher, the respected voice of official big-time journalism: "Chicago Tribune managing editor James O'Shea tells Joe Strupp the Swift Boat controversy may be an instance of a growing problem for newspapers in the expanding media world -- being forced to follow a questionable story because non-print outlets have made it an issue. "There are too many places for people to get information," says O'Shea. "I don't think newspapers can be gatekeepers anymore -- to say this is wrong, and we will ignore it. Now we have to say this is wrong, and here is why."
Now, there are two revealing statements there. First, it is odd to see Mr. O'Shea, an official, credentialed seeker of truth, complaining about "too many places for people to get information." He sounds like a resentful old apparatchik glaring at a Xerox machine in the dying days of the Soviet Union.
The second noteworthy statement is the hilarious complaint that they can no longer merely think a story is wrong and ignore it: "Now we have to say this is wrong, and here is why." It apparently escaped his thought process that if he hadn't yet investigated the story, it might not be "wrong." A seeker of truth in a competitive environment might have phrased the sentence: "Now we will have to report it to determine if it is right or wrong."
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.