Crossing the "Cultural Line"

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Nov 17, 2008 3:30 PM
Howard Kurtz's column is a figurative effort to throw a glass of cold water on the press and cuff it across its collective face.  As he notes in today's column, journalists "seem to have crossed a cultural line into mythmaking" when it comes to the lovestruck purple prose that passes for "coverage" of the new president.

Kurtz's admission that something is seriously amiss here is welcome -- and might have been even more timely before the election.  Interestingly, Kurtz shares the same confidence of his colleagues (as I noted here yesterday) "Obama's days of walking on water won't last indefinitely."
 
And again, I'm not so sure.  The press has a lot invested in Barack Obama -- including its own credibility.  No doubt part of the rationale for cheering him on to victory was their own sense that it would be "good" for the country to have him win.  And once journalists are willing to go there, then it's a pretty short step to concluding that, likewise, it's "good" for the country that he succeed, or "bad" if he fails -- and then adjusting their coverage accordingly.

Such determinations, of course, shouldn't be the press' domain.  But it's far from clear that the press realizes that.  Yesterday, WaPo ombudsman Deborah Howell rationalized liberal press bias with the explanation that "Journalism naturally draws liberals; we like to change the world. " 

Strange.  I didn't think reporters were supposed to be "changing the world" (isn't that what politicians and "community organizers" do?).  I thought journalists were simply supposed to be reporting the news -- so that the citizens of this democratic republic could be deciding for themselves how best they can be governed.