Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?

Greg Sargent is shrill and unbalanced:

The Horse's Mouth: MEDIA LETS TONY SNOW'S LIES ABOUT DEMS GO UNCHALLENGED. For the sake of argument, let's stipulate that one of the most basic tasks of journalists is to provide readers or viewers with the basic information they need to evaluate the truth or falsehood of what their public officials are saying. Can we agree on that?

OK, then. With that in mind, it needs to be said that today's coverage of White House press secretary Tony Snow's remarks amid the aftermath of Ned Lamont's victory constitutes an extraordinary across-the-board abdication of journalistic duty.

During yesterday's press briefing, Snow said this:

I know a lot of people have tried to make this a referendum on the President; I would flip it. I think instead it's a defining moment for the Democratic Party, whose national leaders now have made it clear that if you disagree with the extreme left in their party they're going to come after you.

This is not only a lie; it's an easily demonstrable lie. Most of the Democratic Party's key leadership figures backed Joe Lieberman, not Lamont. This is a matter of public record. It's a point which can be made in half a sentence. And it's a point that should have been in every single news account which carried Snow's remarks.

So was it? Nope. Far from it, in fact. Did the Los Angeles Times piece quoting Snow's lies carry this simple rebuttal? No, it didn't. Neither did Time magazine's big wrap-up of how the GOP is allegedly going to reap enormous gains from Lamont's victory. Nor did the Associated Press's account. The AP story was carried by CBS and likely by newspapers across the country. In short, anyone with the misfortune of getting his or her news from the above news orgs -- or from the perhaps scores of papers carrying the AP account -- was almost certainly deprived of the most basic info required to evaluate the White House's calculated remarks on the biggest story of the day.

As best as I can determine, the only reporter who took the elementary step of rebutting Snow's lies was Adam Nagourney of the New York Times. After quoting Snow, Nagourney wrote this:

In fact, the vast majority of Democratic Party leaders supported Mr. Lieberman in the primary, and did not endorse Mr. Lamont until after the results were in.

For God's sake, was that really so difficult? Don't the editors and reporters who failed to include that one sentence take any professional pride at all in their work anymore?

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