Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, for example, mocks Brewer at some length for repeating a claim that has recently been circulating in the immigration debate concerning headless bodies being found in the Arizona desert:
“Jan Brewer has lost her head.
“The Arizona governor, seemingly determined to repel every last tourist dollar from her pariah state, has sounded a new alarm about border violence. ‘Our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert either buried or just lying out there that have been beheaded,’ she announced on local television.
“Ay, caramba! Those dark-skinned foreigners are now severing the heads of fair-haired Americans? Maybe they’re also scalping them or shrinking them or putting them on a spike,” Milbank writes, giggling no doubt with each keystroke.
Then comes the lines you knew you would encounter before you finished reading Milbank’s lead:
“But those in fear of losing parts north of the neckline can relax. There’s not a follicle of evidence to support Brewer’s claim.”
Except that there is, according to Tapscott:
A friend on the Hill read Milbank’s piece and pronounced it “utter BS,” then produced a copy of a July 8, 2010, letter to Brewer from Arizona rancher J. David Lowell describing a recent incident involving one of his ranch hands:
“In January 2010, Congressman Rob Bishop visited our ranch here in Santa Cruz County, Arizona. During that visit, I related to him an incident that occurred on June 27, 2008, in one of our pastures west of the ranch house.
“On that day, one of our ranch hands was working horseback and discovered a human head near a trail believed to be used by drug and alien smugglers.
“Although the head was missing the lower jaw, it was immediately apparent that much of the mass and flesh of the head was still present. The cowboy searched the area in hopes of finding the remainder of the body to no avail.
“The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office was notified and they took possession of the head on that same date. We suspect that the head may have been placed along side the trail as a warning to other drug and alien traffickers using the trail.”
A spokesman for Rep. Bishop told me they had confirmed the details of the incident described by Lowell.
Curious, I contacted Lowell and asked him if he was willing to talk to Milbank. Here’s what Lowell said:
“I would be happy to talk to Dana Milbank and, in fact, I would like to invite him to a picnic. We could walk a mile or so up Peck Canyon from the Atascosa Ranch headquarters past where the body was found, which is being autopsied to the place where five (or more) innocent Mexicans (who claim they had broken only a few Federal laws) were fired on about two weeks ago by gentlemen in black camo shooting AK 47’s, he said.
Lowell added that “there’s been one other shooting incident seven days ago in about the same place. We will supply the weenies and potato salad but Dana will have to walk about 200 yards ahead.”
So, Mr. Milbank, I hope you will take him up on that picnic and the stroll. But if I were you, I’d wear a flak jacket because the druggies with the AKs couldn’t care less that you’re such a smart guy.
And leave your orange hunting vest back on the set of MSNBC.
As Jonah Goldberg recently noted in this week’s emailed edition of his G-File column, the epistemic closure of their ideology has caused many newspapers to be a “beat behind” on so many stories since 9/11. Arguably, they were always a beat behind on stories that emanated from the right; the Blogosphere has just made the pattern much more obvious to detect. But as Jonah wrote:
Moreover, if the media were truly neutral and objective, why would it matter if certain stories have a conservative valence to them? Shouldn’t a press blind to such considerations run stories that are favorable to conservatives something close to half the time? Actually, when the country is run by Democrats, shouldn’t a press corps allegedly dedicated to speaking truth to power run more stories that conservatives might want to hear, both because conservatives are out of power and because the press is supposed to truth-squad the government, no matter who runs it? Note: I’m not saying news should be deliberately spun in a conservative direction, I’m saying that news — i.e. facts, events, revelations etc — that tend to bolster conservative arguments shouldn’t be dismissed because they bolster conservative arguments.
The news business is one of these rare (though hardly unique) businesses that cares too much about what their customers think — not what they think about their product, but what they think about the world. If newspapers appreciated their roles as businesses just a bit more, they wouldn’t have gotten into quite the mess they’re in, because they would be meeting the consumers’ demand.
Anyway, there have been a lot of such stories in recent years — Rathergate, the TNR-Beauchamp story, Van Jones, etc. — where the MSM has been a “beat behind,” in the words of New York Times editor Jill Abramson. Again, ideology is only a partial factor. News outlets should care about water cooler talk, about what people want to hear, not just what editors want to tell them (don’t make me revisit the gory details contained in the Robert Wone G-File).
You can read a similar version of Jonah’s column here if you don’t subscribe to the G-File. As he noted there:
It often seems that if conservatives consider something big news, the editors at such places as the Times and the Post must first conduct an anthropological analysis: Why are these right-wing natives so upset?
In a podcast at the start of the month at Ricochet.com, James Lileks of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Bill McGurn of the Wall Street Journal, Rob Long and Peter Robinson had a lengthy discussion about how to fix the ailing newspaper industry. For a start, the combination of Alinsky-inspired thinking, JournoList collusion, and the knee-jerk reflex to think “those people” are automatically wrong because of their ideology (QED) has caused severe damage to the credibility of numerous formerly elite journalists.
But like Captain Edward Smith, don’t expect the MSM to deviate from their course anytime soon.