Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?
Who are the heirs of Walter Lippman? Glenn Greenwald writes:
Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: The NYT, WP and Time all report the Specter bill as the opposite of what it is: The moderate-to-conservative Editorial Page of The Washington Post today appears to directly criticize the Post's own news article from yesterday, by Charles Babington and Peter Baker, which ludicrously reported that the Specter bill constituted a "concession" and a "clear retreat" by the Bush administration. The Post's Op-Ed points out [that it]... "isn't a compromise, except quite dramatically on the senator's part. Mr. Specter's bill began as a flawed but well-intentioned effort to get the program in front of the courts, but it has been turned into a green light for domestic spying. It must not pass.... This bill is not a compromise but a full-fledged capitulation on the part of the legislative branch to executive claims of power...."
It wasn't just the [news pages of the] Post which fundamentally misled its readers about this bill. So, too, did Eric Lichtblau in his article in The New York Times.... But in the department of factually false stories, both the NYT and the Post were completely outdone by this indescribably ridiculous Time Magazine article....
By contrast, conservative bloggers and liberal bloggers alike immediately recognized that the Specter bill is a complete capitulation to the Bush administration.... And yet journalists who write for the nation's most influential newspapers and magazines reported the bill as being the opposite of what it really is.... I'm not one of those who believe that blogs have replaced or can replace major journalistic outlets for the gathering of news.... But when it comes to understanding, analyzing and interpreting political and world events, there is very little competition, in my view, between the blogosphere and traditional media outlets.... [I]f I read only blogs but no established media outlets for news analysis, I feel I would be missing nothing. But if I read only established media outlets but no blogs, I would feel that I was operating in the dark.
A reader of this blog sent an e-mail yesterday to the Post's Charles Babington pointing out the grossly misleading nature of his article, and Babington petulantly replied as follows:
I read the bill. Can you cite a single inaccuracy? Here's my guess: You read neither the bill nor the entire story.
That's how Babington -- after writing a story which conveyed the opposite of reality -- responded to a reader who complained. He condescendingly accused the reader of not having read the bill and/or the article. I was going to e-mail Babington today to highlight for him the patent inaccuracies in his article, but his own newspaper's Editorial Page today already did so.
Our democracy relies upon the media to inform Americans as to what their Government is doing, most particularly to inform them of inaccuracies in claims made by political officials. When, instead, journalists are manipulated by self-interested politicians into conveying fantasy and propaganda rather than reality ("the White House makes major compromises on eavesdropping!"), the damage to our democracy's ability to have meaningful public debates really is immeasurable.