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November 12, 2004
DANIEL HENNINGER SURVEYS THE FALLOUT FROM RATHERGATE and some other journalistic scandals:
The prominent case studies here are Dan Rather's failed National Guard story on CBS and the front page the past year of the New York Times (a proxy for many large dailies). Add in as well Big Media's handling of Abu Ghraib, a real story that got blown into a monthlong bonfire that obviously was intended to burn down the legitimacy of the war in Iraq. I think many people thought the over-the-top Abu Ghraib coverage, amid a war, was the media shouting fire in a crowded theater. . . .
Two months ago, Gallup reported that public belief in the media's ability to report news accurately and fairly had fallen to 44%--what Gallup called a significant drop from 54% just a year ago. The larger media outlets have been pushing the edge of the partisanship envelope for a long time. People have kvetched about "spin" for years but then largely internalized it. Not in 2004. Big Media chose precisely the wrong moment to give itself over to an apparent compulsion to overthrow the Bush presidency.
He's not entirely pleased with this outcome, nor should he be. Read the whole thing.