“Vietnam analogies can be tiresome”, Evan Thomas writes, before attempting to yoke Newsweek’s Man In The White House with the hoariest of all Vietnam cliches (hint, the first letter begins with “Q”) that the New York Times is simultaneously attempting to apply as well.
And additionally, as Orrin Judd writes, if you’re a liberal Beltway journalist, you don’t let the fact that it’s a rather sloppy history of the endgame in Vietnam in the first place stop you from using it in the first place.
Besides, Vietnam and Watergate are the two ends of the boomer axis upon which the legacy media rotates, as James Taranto wrote in 2005, in the midst of Newsweek’s Koran-in-the-can debacle:
The obsession with Vietnam and Watergate is central to the alienation between the press and the people. After all, these were triumphs for the crusading press but tragedies for America. And the press’s quest for more such triumphs–futile, so far, after more than 30 years–is what is behind the scandals at both Newsweek and CBS.
It’s also behind the Valerie Plame kerfuffle, which hasn’t been properly recognized as a journalistic scandal. The mainstream media accepted uncritically a Democratic partisan’s unfounded allegations of criminal conduct within the Bush administration, suddenly discovering that there was no crime only when the ensuing special prosecutor investigation threatened to put two reporters behind bars. (See our February account of the New York Times’ evolution on the subject.)
In response to the Koran-flushing debacle, Newsweek has acknowledged only technical problems with its reporting. This follows the pattern of CBS, which commissioned an “independent” report that allowed the network to claim it was free of political bias. In the Plame case, we don’t know of any journalistic outfit that’s admitted an error; the Times, for instance, still insists baselessly that Plame’s “outing” was “an abuse of power.”
The problem in all three cases is that news organizations were so zealous in their pursuit of the next quagmire or scandal that they forgot their first obligation, which is to tell the truth. Until those in the mainstream media are willing to acknowledge that it is this crusading impulse that has led them astray, we are unlikely to see the end of such journalistic scandals.
Curious though, that such high boomer-era cliches linger on nearly 40 years after their initial debut, even when there’s a president that the legacy media doesn’t immediately wish to destroy.