But a few people have noticed. Much to my surprise, there was a big story in last week's Baltimore Sun headlined "Compliant news media have failed the American people". Well yes! yes they have.
Journalists have allowed political operatives to successfully control what is discussed and how it is discussed. TV programs that pit an extremist on the left against an extremist on the right have made it clear there is no room for moderate voices. Walter Cronkite used to be the most trusted journalist in America. Now Jon Stewart - a comedian with a "fake news" show - may be.I hardly know where to stop quoting, so excited am I to see this in actual print. But a diagnosis is not a cure. Who will make a show of spine first? Helen Thomas, a pressroom institution for her blunt questions, was banned by the Bush whitehouse. Where will the wave of opposition begin?
President Bush invaded Iraq on false pretenses, and many in the news media not only didn't question his assertions but served to legitimize them. The Patriot Act, which authorizes serious abridgments of civil liberties, was enacted and allowed to continue with hardly a whimper from the institutions that depend on the First Amendment for their existence. The story of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib all but died with no high-level official held responsible.
Pursuing these kinds of stories takes time, energy and sources. It is fueled by a healthy skepticism from reporters and courage on the part of editors. And it requires that government be sufficiently in awe of the power of the press so that it provide answers and access.
Instead, we have too many reporters who believe it is their job simply to quote what people tell them - who think being "investigative" is getting a conflicting quote.
(via La Di Da)