Ed Driscoll

"Get It First, But First Get It Second"

Mickey Kaus explores “Edwards and the agony of the MSM“, beginning with his paraphrase of a Business Week article on John Edwards by Jon Fine:

Fine notes that “Edwards isn’t considered a likely vice-presidential candidate by the press.” That’s true. But he is a likely Obama cabinet official. Many Dems would like to see him as Attorney-General. That’s what’s at stake in the love-child coverage. The Enquirer has killed him as a VP candidate. But if the MSM goes into full “protect Elizabeth” mode the damage might yet not quite be enough to stop his confirmation by a Democratic Senate next year. “Protect Elizabeth” = “protect A.G. John.”

After a long list of MSM outlets that fail to report the story, Mickey quotes Jim Treacher:

“Which story gets a bigger audience: A story the blogs run with but the mainstream news ignores, or a story the news runs with but the blogs ignore? I’m thinking the news comes out ahead, but just barely. And at this rate, not for much longer.”

And it’s not like such an MSM bottleneck on a story that everyone knows the basics of hasn’t happened before. As Tony Blankley wrote in late August of 2004:

Mark the calendar. August 2004 is the first time that the major mainline media — CBSNBCABCNEWYORKTIMESWASHINGTONPOST L.A.TIMESNEWSWEEKTIMEMAGAZINEASSOCIATED PRESSETC. — ignored a news story that nonetheless became known by two-thirds of the country within two weeks of it being mentioned by the “marginal” press.

It was only after a CBS poll showed that Kerry had lost a net 14 percent of the veteran’s vote to Bush — without aid of major media coverage or substantial national advertising — that the major media outlets began to lumber, resentfully, in the vague direction of the story. And even then, they hardly engaged themselves in the spirit of objective journalism.

According to Editor and Publisher, the respected voice of official big-time journalism: “Chicago Tribune managing editor James O’Shea tells Joe Strupp the Swift Boat controversy may be an instance of a growing problem for newspapers in the expanding media world — being forced to follow a questionable story because non-print outlets have made it an issue. “There are too many places for people to get information,” says O’Shea. “I don’t think newspapers can be gatekeepers anymore — to say this is wrong, and we will ignore it. Now we have to say this is wrong, and here is why.”

Now, there are two revealing statements there. First, it is odd to see Mr. O’Shea, an official, credentialed seeker of truth, complaining about “too many places for people to get information.” He sounds like a resentful old apparatchik glaring at a Xerox machine in the dying days of the Soviet Union.

The second noteworthy statement is the hilarious complaint that they can no longer merely think a story is wrong and ignore it: “Now we have to say this is wrong, and here is why.” It apparently escaped his thought process that if he hadn’t yet investigated the story, it might not be “wrong.” A seeker of truth in a competitive environment might have phrased the sentence: “Now we will have to report it to determine if it is right or wrong.”

As Blankley wrote, August 2004 may have been the first time the undernews bubbled straight to the surface, but obviously, it will be far from the last.