One of the great aspects of new media has been its ability to reveal that the folks in the ivory towers of elite journalism aren’t quite as omniscient as they played at being, back when media was strictly a top-down affair.
Case in point: you could get whiplash reading this Webchat with Tom Shales, the Washington Post’s longtime establishment liberal TV critic who types in all caps to a reader — the Internet equivalent of shouting at the top of your lungs — “CONSERVATIVES DOMINATE THE BROADCAST AND CABLE MEDIA IN THIS COUNTRY.” And then during the same chat backpedals, and a short while later, circles back to his original Al Gore-approved position.
While newspapers have had television critics seemingly dating back to the era of Philo T. Farnsworth, no one knew that politics needed a newspaper writer to perform fulltime fashion critiques until the Post hired Robin Givhan. Mary Katharine Ham spots a huge dollop of hypocrisy from Givhan regarding the preppy togs of the Kennedy clan versus the same Brooks Brothers and Polo duds on Supreme Court Justice John Roberts and his family during Roberts’ confirmation hearings in 2005.
And finally, Michael Barone puts the Post on notice:
In the 2006 campaign season the Washington Post ran more than a dozen front-page stories on Senator George Allen’s reference, at an August 11 campaign stop almost 400 miles from Washington, to an opposition campaign staffer as “Macaca.” One of these stories, perhaps, had enough news value to be worthy of the front page; the others were placed there with the obvious intent of defeating Allen and electing his Democratic opponent Jim Webb, who did indeed win by a 50%-49% margin.
Now there’s a campaign on for governor of Virginia, and the news editors of the Post seem to be using their front page once again to defeat the Republican candidate, Bob McDonnell, and elect Democrat Creigh Deeds. To provide a fair perspective, we’ll start a Macaca watch, to list stories which make the front page of the Post not on the basis of news value but solely and obviously to defeat the Republican candidate.
How badly did the Post beat the “Macaca” story into the ground in 2006? So badly that even Howard Kurtz, their see-no-media-evil media critic admitted yesterday on Twitter, “WP overplayed macaca.”
Watch for similar saturation bombings of the Post’s ideological opponents to repeat in upcoming elections, and mock apologies afterwards, ad infinitum.