Big Media’s Big Failures: Non-scandal edition
posted at 8:50 pm on August 22, 2011 by Karl
Someone asked me whether the recent error-riddled New York Times hit piece on Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, could subject the NYT to a libel suit. Theoretically, the article is so bad that it could warrant a complaint, but as a practical matter, a lawsuit would be a waste of time. Assuming Issa could convince a judge that there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether Eric Lichtblau and the NYT acted with “actual malice” in publishing the story, Congressmen are not sympathetic plaintiffs.
Notably, the hit piece is one of the very few things the NYT has written about Issa. The NYT has also written next to nothing about Operation Fast & Furious, the Obama administration scandal currently in Issa’s crosshairs. Indeed, the NYT editorial board does not seem to think it’s worth investigating, let alone covering, if it does not advance the paper’s crusade for gun control.
Of course, Issa is far from the only Republican to get smeared by The New York Times. The past weekend brought us the headline “Perry Mines Texas System to Raise Cash for Campaigns,” followed by a story that doesn’t support the charge. Indeed, the story goes on for paragraphs about the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Texas Emerging Technology Fund before noting: “[Perry spokeswoman] Ms. Nashed said that grants from both funds must be approved by the speaker of the Texas House and the lieutenant governor and that all recipients go through rigorous reviews.” It would have been easy for the NYT to verify that Nashed was right — but that would not advance the NYT narrative. Mind you, there is a legitimate debate to be had about not only funds of this sort, but also potential crony capitalism generally. But if the NYT were genuinely interested in crony capitalism, they would be rooting it out in the Obama Administration as well. Suffice it to say the NYT has avoided the issue like the plague.
Examples of the NYT modus operandi abound in election cycles, the bogus McCain-Iseman affair being a classic of the genre, right down to the “correction” essentially repudiating the story — made 364 days (and an election) after the original story ran.
It is tiresome to write about the bias of the establishment media in general and the NYT in particular. I have previously described it as the political version of bad weather — something the right must be aware of, but largely beyond their control. I have also written time and again about the tendency of the establishment punditry to hype “epistemic closure” on the right, when the establishment media engages in magical thinking about the biggest issues of the day. Given Big Media’s twin failures on the Great Recession and the debt bomb, perhaps it should be obvious that the NYT would be more interested in smearing Issa than covering Operation Fast & Furious. However, much of the history of the 21st Century is shaping up to be about the institutional failures of 20th Century progressivism — so-called Keynesian economics, the over-promising Ponzi schemes of the welfare state, and so on. In this sense, the decrepitude of establishment journalism is not simply another feature of the weather report, but part of a larger, more important story — a scandal establishment journalism inherently won’t cover.
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