Mass Media Malfeasance

The “news” media just doesn’t get it.

Bob Bennett’s loss at the Utah nominating convention over the weekend has news outfits from FoxNews to the New York Times to the Huffington Post talking about “Party Purity” and “anti-incumbency” and all manner of things. The Tea Parties have them equally flustered: The phrase, “They’re out here protesting, but most of these [Tea Partiers] are getting a tax break,” or something like that, has been uttered or written literally thousands of times by anchors, columnists and reporters. Nobody seems to be able to get a handle on the outrage Americans are feeling right now.

The reason is obvious for anyone paying attention: For every person the outrage is different! Some are upset because taxes are going up. Some are upset because of spending. Some are upset because of government intrusion into their lives.

Bob Bennett didn’t fail for some esoteric concept of party purity. Bob Bennett was removed from the Republican primary ballot because he voted for the TARP bailout (which his constituents oppose) and violated his pledge to term-limit himself. He violated the People’s trust and, belatedly, they’ve called him on it.

The people are waking up. Thanks to blogs, political action committees, writers like Michelle Malkin and Anne Coulter and everyday citizens carrying video cameras, politicians can no longer act one way in Washington and a completely different way when they head home to campaign for re-election. In a recent commencement address the President lamented the ability of the blogs and the 24-hour media to pick up a “crazy story” (his term) that in the past would have gone unnoticed. He told the students that the 24-hour news cycle, talk radio and blogs were a “distraction”.

Go. Figure.

Is it any wonder the powers-that-be in Washington don’t want to recognize the bloggers as legitimate journalists? Is it any wonder the FCC wants to take control of the internet? Or that the Federal Elections Commission was given the ability to control political speech for nearly a decade?

The existing news media, even FoxNews, is safe. It’s a known entity. Congressmen and Senators and governors can develop relationships with those people. It’s a small, easily calculated group that gets its information directly from the propaganda source. Gone are the days of real investigative reporting on political malfeasance by reporters at the Washington Post and the New York Times. Among the news media, “getting the story” has been replaced by “having access”.

So the news media sit, insulated from reality in their ivory towers, endlessly repeating the talking points of whatever political operative they last interviewed, never digging down into the real story. Even FoxNews, the supposed conservative media bastion, doesn’t want to upset the apple cart too much. If the Republicans are successful at gaining fifty, sixty, even eighty seats this fall, then the news media outlets will have to rebuild those relationships to regain access.

Darn it! That’s work! Who wants to work at building hundreds of new relationships with politicians and their staff when you’ve already got so much access?

Sure, there are a few good actors still left. John Stossel, among an increasingly smaller few, makes just about everybody with a political agenda, right or left, sick to their stomach with his brand of common-sense investigative journalism. Journalists like him, however, are increasingly hard to find, because no reporter wants to jeopardize their access. In journalism, access is power.

So the media doesn’t get it. They don’t get it because they are too close to the politicians and take all their cues from the politicos they’re supposed to be watching. Instead of reporting the facts in an interesting way, they report their agenda and use their access to like-minded politicians to generate authoritative support. Unlike the blogs, their political allegiance is a hidden secret, but no one believes any longer that their personal politics doesn’t color their reporting.

It’s no wonder traditional news media outlets are failing. No matter what the Tea Partiers, conservative base or average voter might say, the news media will report that they’re just wealthy, angry, racist, white men who want a “pure” conservative party. They hear the facts, then repeat the lie, and everybody sees it–except the reporters themselves. So why should anybody trust them, anyway?