I think it’s a fairly safe bet that if you asked a typical newspaper columnist or television producer what he thought about competition in the business world, you’d get in response some variation decrying it as “cut throat” and “the worst of capitalism” and “only harming consumers”. Which makes this email to media maven Jim Romenesko by San Diego Union-Tribune TV critic Bob Laurence on the topic of the kidnapping of Fox News reporter Steve Centanni and his New Zealand-based cameraman Olaf Wiig by terrorists in Gaza all the more disgusting:
I’d like to offer a couple of possible reasons for the lack of attention given to the kidnapping of the two guys from Fox:
One is that, sadly, they are far from the first to be kidnapped, injured or killed. They are, alas, only the most recent two of many. The kidnapping or targeting of journalists in Iraq isn’t the story it once was.
Second, Fox has deliberately set itself apart from other news media. Starting at the top with Roger Ailes, the Fox sales pitch has been to deride other media, to declare itself the one source of the real truth, the sole source of ‘fair and accurate’ news reporting. As a result, there’s not a reservoir of kinship or good will with Fox on the part of the rest of the news media. You can’t keep insulting people and then expect friendship when you need it.
They’ve made it a policy to keep a distance between themselves and the rest of the media, far beyond the usual competitive spirit, so that’s where they are: at a distance.
Or as the crank TV commentator snarled in the 1980 comedy Airplane!, “Shanna, they bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say, let ’em crash!”
First, it’s “fair and balanced.” Second, what news organization doesn’t posit itself the best source of news in an aggressive media world? Third, Laurence and his ilk’s inability to set aside contempt for, or envy of, a successful competitor during a crisis is a damning indictment that speaks for itself.
In 2004, leftwing blogger and Ned Lamont-champion Markos Moulitsas Zuniga achieved a fair amount of notoriety in the Blogosphere when, after four Americans were killed in Fallujah, he intemperately wrote:
Let the people see what war is like. This isn