Sunday, March 11, 2007

The MSM: Not Even Trying

When you're married to a journalist, you get it drummed into you that they're "news"papers and not "truth" papers. Nobody's perfect, I get that.

But the mainstream media have completely descended into the arena of embarrassing tabloid advocacy with no sense of shame or restraint. The fact is, sadly, that the media have given up even the pretense of journalistic integrity. It's all bias, all the time.

this one example that jumped off my Google screen this morning:

After taking the rap for lying about the betrayal of a CIA agent, former vice-presidential aide Scooter Libby has a new nickname in Washington DC ...

This is the lede for a piece in the UK's Sunday Herald. It's nonsense from the first syllables and wanders into sheer lunacy by the final graph. Doesn't anyone care that Scooter Libby wasn't charged or convicted for "the betrayal of a CIA agent?" Doesn't anyone care the Valerie Wilson's status as a CIA employee was specifically banned from the jury's deliberations by the judge--who himself said he did not know what her employment status was when the alleged crime took place and he didn't want to?

Doesn't anyone at this paper care about the facts at all?

I write a column. It's full of opinion. But the facts that I base my (wildly unfounded) opinions on are actually factual. The coverage of the Libby case has been overtly anti-factual.

On NPR, news(?)casters repeatedly said Libby had outed a "covert CIA operative," ignoring the fact that Plame was neither covert nor an operative. This directly untrue allegation was repeated ad nauseum by NPR "reporters," despite the fact that a cursory review of the case shows that, at best, Plame's covert status was disputable and, the consensus is that she was not covered by the laws regarding covert agents.

This helps explain why Scooter Libby was never charged with crime out outing a spy. And why the man who actually did "out" Valerie Plame--Bush-hater Richard Armitage--has not been charged with a crime, even though the audiotape of the "outing" to reporter Bob Woodward was played in evidence to the court.

Does NPR care? Does the Sunday Herald? Does anyone?

No. The mainstream media's high-school-paper advocacy standards are so low that even some of its own members are starting to notice. Brian Williams, reporting live from Iraq, wondered aloud why so many Iraqis and American soldiers were telling him the US was welcome in Iraq, but he never heard that on the nightly news.

Well, Brian, it's your show...

I've written on the collapse of journalism standards before and, unlike some conservatives, I don't celebrate it. Like every other American, I have to rely on the media for information to some degree. I need to know that, when I read a news story on 1-A, that it's accurate within knowable parameters. That's the only way I can use it as a source of conversation and debate (a key requirement of a talk show host).

I wish the MSM could be shamed into professionalism, but those days are long gone.