Ed Driscoll

Howard Kurtz Will Deliver No News before its Time

Note the dates on the following three article excerpts, beginning with Michael Malone, at both ABC and Pajamas Media.com, October 24, 2008:

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 . . .

Victor Davis Hanson at National Review Online, in a similarly lengthy piece dated October 31, 2008 and titled, “The End of Journalism,” whose subhead noted, “Sometime in 2008, journalism as we knew it died, and advocacy media took its place,” and began:

There have always been media biases and prejudices. Everyone knew that Walter Cronkite, from his gilded throne at CBS news, helped to alter the course of the Vietnam War, when, in the post-Tet depression, he prematurely declared the war unwinnible. Dan Rather’s career imploded when he knowingly promulgated a forged document that impugned the service record of George W. Bush. We’ve known for a long time — from various polling, and records of political donations of journalists themselves, as well as surveys of public perceptions — that the vast majority of journalists identify themselves as Democratic, and liberal in particular.Yet we have never quite seen anything like the current media infatuation with Barack Obama, and its collective desire not to raise key issues of concern to the American people. Here were four areas of national interest that were largely ignored.

Howard Kurtz in the Daily Beast, yesterday:

I’m not saying this is intentional, or that the MSM are mangling the midterms. Many voters are angry, especially about the anemic economy, and it’s their right to toss out whoever they deem to be the bums. But on some level, many journalists believe the White House has accomplished a heckuva lot, and they see the Tea Partiers as inchoate and maddeningly inconsistent—denouncing big bad government while clinging to their Medicare and Social Security benefits. It’s as if the pundits are collectively engaged in a group grope, feeling their way around this strange and sharp-toothed political animal that resembles nothing they’ve encountered before…

“The media profile is of an angry, racist rabble, and that doesn’t match the people I’ve seen in focus groups,” says Republican pollster Whit Ayres, describing the Tea Party movement. “There’s a predisposition in the more liberal elements of the media to paint Republicans as unsophisticated rubes who don’t appreciate all the wonderful things the Obama administration and the Democratic Party have done for the country. It’s just out of touch with the reality.”…

The biggest media blunder, in my view, was the walk-on-water coverage that Obama drew in 2007 and 2008. The only real debate was whether he was more like FDR (Time) or Lincoln (Newsweek). The candidate obviously played a role in creating his own myth, but it was the breathless media that sent expectations soaring into the stratosphere. Once Obama had to grapple with two wars, a crippled economy and reflexive Republican opposition, he had no place to go but down. The press has long since fallen out of love with the president, but the overheated hyperbole did him no favors.

Though only Obama himself is to blame for believing his own press clippings and not tamping them or his campaign rhetoric down, but then, as he’s been quoted in one his biographies, “You know, I actually believe my own bull****.”

I wonder if Howard felt he couldn’t write this until he left the Washington Post for the Daily Beast, given the amount of strange doings that have been going on at his longtime home over the past few years. Perhaps this news also affected the timing. In any case, welcome to our world, Howard!

And in a related development, Kate of Canada’s great Small Dead Animals blog appears to have concluded her long-running “Not Waiting for the Asteroid” series on the legacy media’s myriad woes: The Asteroid has Struck.

Update: Ace writes, “Howard Kurtz occasionally writes media bias pieces, but in the end, he can’t bring himself to actually criticize the MFM.” Hey, it’s hard out there for an MSM media critic who wants to remain gainfully employed as a media critic in the MSM.