What Big Media Learned This Week
Last week was an interesting week for Big Media.
First, we had the big story about how Michael Cohen had testified to the Mueller investigation that he had been directed by Trump to lie under oath during various investigations. Were it true this would indeed be a big story. It might constitute subornation of perjury, a violation of 18USC1622, good for potentially 5 years in prison, and pretty certainly an impeachable offense. You could practically see the legacy media drooling, and I'm still surprised they didn't have tissues and lotion on the desks and towels out for the chair seats.
The only problem: by that night, the authors were saying they hadn't actually seen any documents. By the next day, the Mueller team had taken the very unusual step, for them, of denying the story on the record and furthermore denying on background that there were any documents of the sort Jason Leopold, one of the authors, had described. (Leopold at this point had nearly disappeared, no longer being included in media opportunities and his Twitter feed apparently purged of anything but re-tweets.)
And that was just Friday and Saturday. By Sunday, the legacy media was running with the story of the Covington racist kids surrounding and taunting an Elder of the Omaha Tribe who was peacefully chanting and drumming during the March for Life. Only, as the weekend went on we found out the story was more — well, Brian Stelter of Reliable Sources thought it was complicated and no one really knew what happened. Everyone else knew that Big Media, including a lot of "but Trump is so crude and uncouth!" pinky-raising Big Media conservatives, had been taken for a ride by bunch of spam Twitter accounts, the "Black Israelites," an activist who can't keep his story straight, and a whole lot of "too good to check."
In the meantime, a whole bunch of people on Left and Right were apologizing and retracting, and a couple of credible lawyers were pursuing libel suits.
But the weekend wasn't over: shortly, it was announced that Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, and Gannett were making massive layoffs, and closing entire categories. (Huffington Post, in particular, was closing Opinion. I'd always thought the whole Huffington Post was an opinion journal, but what the hell.) Oh, and the Newseum just sold their building and closed.
Just in passing, yes, I didn't capitalize the F in Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed is apparently sensitive about that. F them.
Of course, it wasn't just on the left. The Weekly Standard recently shut down as well, having tried a number of different maneuvers with paywalls and cruises but having failed to attract enough revenue to pay the bills.