Carol Platt Liebau

Andrew Breitbart rightly excoriates the deafening MSM silence over Van Jones, his radical views, and his ties to President Obama.

But perhaps this is a "teachable moment" for the country's media elite.  Speaking yesterday on the "Meet the Press" panel, Tom Brokaw had this to say:

[A] lot of people will repeat back to me and take it as face value something that they read on the Internet.  And my line to them is you have to vet information.  You have to test it the same way you do when you buy an automobile or when you go and buy a new flat-screen television.  You read the Consumer Reports, you have an idea of what it's worth and what the lasting value of it is.  You have to do the same thing with information because there is so much disinformation out there that it's frightening, frankly, in a free society that depends on information to make informed decisions.

Of course, he's right. All information should be vetted -- but since, as Brokaw says, a free society depends on having information in order to function, it's also important that the MSM "filter" isn't routinely used to advantage some at the expense of others. 

Ultimately,  the problem for the denizens of the MSM elite is this: Their failures and biases are what validated the internet competition that is destroying them.

Whether it's CBS and Dan Rather putting out patently false stories about George W. Bush's military service or The New York Times refusing to cover Van Jones' radical history, the internet has exposed old-time journalism's lapses.  And in a sense, it all started when Matt Drudge had the details of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair -- even as Newsweek was killing Michael Isikoff's story about it.

If people could trust the NY Times to cover Jones the way it would have covered a person, say, with an analogous history of right-wing nut statements (on guns, abortion, race or whatever) then no one would feel the need to check out the web.  And if every story on the web that sounds "crazy" could be discounted immediately because people had the assurance that if it were true, the MSM would be covering it, there'd be a lot less trouble of the kind Brokaw describes.

But what's becoming increasingly obvious is that throughout 2008 (at least) the MSM  abrogated its supposed responsibility to report -- on Obama, his views, his history, his associations.

Obviously, the "birthers" who won't let go of the issue about the President's birth certificate are wrong (and often nuts).  But do you suppose there would be so many of them if people had more assurance that the MSM was hard at work looking at Barack Obama the way they were, say, George W. Bush?


Carol Platt Liebau

Carol Platt Liebau is an attorney, political commentator and guest radio talk show host based near New York. Learn more about her new book, "Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Hurts Young Women (and America, Too!)" here.


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