I'm listening to Chris Matthews and the Hardball "Special Report" on Plame-gate. A detailed fisking will have to wait, but so far, listening with half-attention while I work on something else, I've already heard them make several straight-out false statements and misattributions, starting with discussing Wilson's NYT op-ed, "What I didn't find in Niger" without mentioning the disagreement between what he wrote and what the Senate Committee reported were the facts.
When there's a full transcript, I'll write a more thorough critique, but for the moment I want to write about something that has bothered me for a good while. It's clear, listening to this, that Matthews has a slant in mind, and isn't particularly scrupulous about making his "reporting" match the facts. It would be disingenuous of me, extremely so, to affect surprise at this. It's become increasingly clear, I think to nearly everyone, that the Legacy Media is less that scrupulous about these things in general.
I'm very suspicious that one of the underlying factors in this is that, up until recently, there was the assumption that the Legacy Media could not just report what happened, but effectively define what happened, and have the expectation that once the dominant paradigm was established there would be no effective refutation. (For an example of this, consider the number of people who still believe Alger Hiss was completely innocent, and the number of people who think that Joseph McCarthy was not working with any evidence of Communist infiltration.)
(If that last sentence is a surprise, have a look at the Venona Intercepts.)
But then — how long has this been going on? I can remember having suspicions about some press reports going back to Viet Nam. (I had friends coming back who thought we were winning. Sort of like Iraq now.) I've heard it said that Robert Heinlein told of being at events convered by Time three times, and that Time never reported one of them accurately.
If we go back a little longer, we're at the time of "yellow journalism" and the Hearst papers.
It's almost as if the question we should be asking is not "whatever happened to objective journalism", but "how did the myth of objective journalism get started.?"
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