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Comments Credits
Comments by YACCS
Sunday, December 28, 2003

Time to take the gloves off

Time to take the gloves off

The media in America lives in a dual world, one where they want to hold people accountable, yet flip out when people do the same to them.

Atrios's reporting on the AP's Nedra Pickler, led to a nasty letter from the AP's legal counsel about harassment to one of the people who wrote to complain about her reporting, which promptly got a sneering reply. Journalists have amazingly thin skins when they are criticized in any way, shape or form. Anyone who writes media criticism can make a bunch of enemies really quickly by writing about their peers. There are people at Salon who still hate the fact that I looked at the 10Q's (quarterly financial reports) and showed them to be woefully managed.

I think it would be a really, really good idea to track reporters, word for word, broadcast for broadcast, and print the results online. Not just for any one campaign or cause, but to track people's reporting the way we track other services. If someone had bothered to question the reporting om Wen Ho Lee, he might not have been accused of espionage falsely by the New York Times. If someone had actually checked Jayson Blair's work, the Times might have fired his ass years earlier.

Keeping score of who's right and wrong, how many times they repeat cannards like Al Gore invented the Internet and make obvious errors. Not accusations of ideology, but actual data and facts.

Internal ombudsmen seem like a good idea until you realize that they get their money from the same company that they are criticising.

The media is the most important organziation in American life with no accountability to the public. Libel suits don't work, not only because they are expensive, but the law is designed to protect free speech. So even if you have someone dead to rights, like Sid Blumenthal did with Matt Drudge, suing and winning is incredibly difficult. And there is nothing you can do if reporters repeat a theme like Howard Dean is pessimistic or farts after burritos.

The Dean Defense Force is a great idea, but it has one limit, it is the support network for one candidate. Which means some reporters will ignore it as partisan blathering, no matter how valid their points. It would be a very sound idea for a 527 to fund such an effort, independent of campaigns. Imagine an ad in the Sunday Times saying "Sue Schimdt wrote that Al Gore "invented" the Internet. Al Gore said no such thing and this has been public knowledge for years, so why is she repeating it."

The lawyers for the WaPo will be looking to sue before the end of the day. If you ran a campaign, naming individual reporters and their mistake of facts, along with correspondence with their editors, after they stopped freaking out and realize that they couldn't sue, they would ignore it. The only problem is that no one trust the media. Right, left, most people consider them abject liars. C-span would be amusing, however, as reporters would have their own work quoted back to them verbatim.

Let's face it, Washington journalism is corrupt. They screw each other, do favors for each other and frankly, understand very little about campaigns. This isn't received wisdom, but the things I learned first hand. Most reporters never learn how manipulated they are by campaigns. I've seen more than one campaign derailed over an issue, which if placed in perspective, would not have turned that campaign. But there is a frenzy to scoop each other and relive the days of Watergate, so oppo research and spin comes to define a race as a race and not about an election of the most powerful person on the planet, one hated by many around the world.

It's all inside baseball to them, who's up and who's down. The Kool Kids Klub is pissing away our democracy like drunks at strip club handing out $1's. It's all about style to them. No one is going to place Maureen Dowd on workfare if she loses her job. They all protect each other. Well, that's a luxury that we can no longer afford. If they will no longer do their job on their own, it's time to make them.

posted by Steve @ 10:56:00 AM

10:56:00 AM

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