Ed Driscoll

2008: The Year Journalism Really Died

At the Daily Caller, political consultant Myra Adams, who helped craft ads for both the Bush 2004 campaign (including GWB’s classic Kerry “Windsurfing” ad), and the 2008 McCain campaign writes that Sean Hannity can safely say “See, I told you so,” regarding the legacy media’s “reporting” during the 2008 election:

Now thanks to The Daily Caller, truth has come from darkness.  Which makes me realize this is the best time to be Sean Hannity, for he has been supremely vindicated and here’s why.

During the 2008 campaign I was a frequent listener to his radio show. So I remember when Hannity first reported about Obama’s radical pastor back in mid – 2007, when no one was paying any attention to a freshman senator who had no chance of ever defeating Queen Hillary.

Then in 2008, Obama rose in stature, and unrelated to Hannity, the Reverend Wright story “broke.”  Did it ever —- and then it just went away, except on the Sean Hannity Show.

After Obama won the nomination, Hannity would rant and rave about how Barack Obama was a leftist, socialist, radical with a questionable history of friendships and associations.

He did not let up day after day. As a result Hannity’s ratings went through the roof. I believe this was because most listeners believed what he said was true, and they were not getting much truth almost anywhere else in a media landscape completely smitten by Barack Obama.  And yes, Hannity was not afraid to play “the best of” Reverend Wright’s sermons on a regular basis.

I was struck by how Hannity would always say 2008 was the year journalism died.

He was always talking about how the main stream media were NOT doing their job investigating this man who came from nowhere, who we did not know, and now was about to be elected President of Hannity’s America.

So fast forward to The Daily Caller’s revelations about the Journolist’s media manipulations and now we can declare with great certainty, that 2008 was in fact The Year Journalism Died.

It’s not just for Sean Hannity listeners anymore.

At the tail end of the 2008 campaign, Michael Malone wrote a lengthy and much-read piece that ran at both Pajamas and his column at ABC, which concluded:

I learned a long time ago that when people or institutions begin to behave in a manner that seems to be entirely against their own interests, it’s because we don’t understand what their motives really are. It would seem that by so exposing their biases and betting everything on one candidate over another, the traditional media is trying to commit suicide – especially when, given our currently volatile world and economy, the chances of a successful Obama presidency, indeed any presidency, is probably less than 50:50.

Furthermore, I also happen to believe that most reporters, whatever their political bias, are human torpedoes . . .and, had they been unleashed, would have raced in and roughed up the Obama campaign as much as they did McCain’s. That’s what reporters do, I was proud to have been one, and I’m still drawn to a good story, any good story, like a shark to blood in the water.

So why weren’t those legions of hungry reporters set loose on the Obama campaign? Who are the real villains in this story of mainstream media betrayal?

The editors. The men and women you don’t see; the people who not only decide what goes in the paper, but what doesn’t; the managers who give the reporters their assignments and lay-out the editorial pages. They are the real culprits.

Why? I think I know, because had my life taken a different path, I could have been one: Picture yourself in your 50s in a job where you’ve spent 30 years working your way to the top, to the cockpit of power . . . only to discover that you’re presiding over a dying industry. The Internet and alternative media are stealing your readers, your advertisers and your top young talent. Many of your peers shrewdly took golden parachutes and disappeared. Your job doesn’t have anywhere near the power and influence it did when your started your climb. The Newspaper Guild is too weak to protect you any more, and there is a very good chance you’ll lose your job before you cross that finish line, ten years hence, of retirement and a pension.

In other words, you are facing career catastrophe -and desperate times call for desperate measures. Even if you have to risk everything on a single Hail Mary play. Even if you have to compromise the principles that got you here. After all, newspapers and network news are doomed anyway – all that counts is keeping them on life support until you can retire.

And then the opportunity presents itself: an attractive young candidate whose politics likely matches yours, but more important, he offers the prospect of a transformed Washington with the power to fix everything that has gone wrong in your career. With luck, this monolithic, single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived Fairness Doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe, be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there.

And besides, you tell yourself, it’s all for the good of the country . . .

And Victor Davis Hanson added around that same time, “Sometime in 2008, journalism as we knew it died, and advocacy media took its place.”

Both VDH and Malone understood why it was happening, but to build on what Adams wrote above, the JournoList scandal helps to place both of those stories into fresh perspective, providing one answer to as to how it happened.