David Broder, the elite of the liberal media elite, shows in the Washington Post that MSM journalists still don’t get it:
We don’t yet know who will win the 2004 election, but we know who has lost it. The American news media have been clobbered.
So far so good, but keep reading.
In a year when war in Iraq, the threat of terrorism and looming problems with the federal budget and the nation’s health care system cry out for serious debate, the news organizations on which people should be able to depend have been diverted into chasing sham events: a scurrilous and largely inaccurate attack on the Vietnam service of John Kerry and a forged document charging President Bush with disobeying an order for an Air National Guard physical….
After almost a half-century in this business, I certainly feel a sense of shame and embarrassment at our performance. The feeling is not relieved by the awareness that others in journalism not only did fine work on other stories but took the lead in exposing these instances of gross malpractice.
To understand what Broder is saying here, you have to know that Broder does not consider bloggers “journalists.” When he says “journalism” he is talking about the MSM. Believe it or not, Broder actually believes that MSM journalists “took the lead” in exposing Rathergate.
It gets worse:
When the Internet opened the door to scores of “journalists” who had no allegiance at all to the skeptical and self-disciplined ethic of professional news gathering, the bars were already down in many old-line media organizations. That is how it happened that old pros such as Dan Rather and former New York Times editor Howell Raines got caught up in this fevered atmosphere and let their standards slip.
Yep, Broder is saying that the introduction of the internet undermined “the skeptical and self-disciplined ethic” of the MSM. If it weren’t for Buckhead and those scurrilous pajama-wearing bloggers, Rathergate never would have happened!
Broder ends his column with this flourish:
Time was when any outfit such as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that came around peddling an ad with implausible charges would have run into a hard-nosed reporter whose first questions — before he or she ran with the story — would have been, “Who the hell are you guys? What’s your angle? What’s your proof?”
Any Texan with a grudge against George Bush and the National Guard who suddenly produced a purported photocopy of an explosive 30-year-old order signed by a dead man would have been treated with the deep distrust he deserved by the reporters to whom he offered his wares. And no professional journalist would have made a call to the Kerry campaign encouraging a flack to contact this dubious source.
We’ve wandered a long way from safe ground in the news business. Sometimes I wonder if we can find our way back.
Considering Broder’s state of mind, sometimes I wonder if he could find his way back home from the grocery store.
In Broder’s addled brain, the charges of the Swift Boat Vets (many of which have been proven true) are just as “implausible” as the fake memos used by Rather and Co. He thinks the MSM rushed to air the allegations of the Swift Boat vets just as eagerly as it did the Burkett memos. And he apparently believes the MSM did not subject the Swift Boat vets to tough scrutiny.
Somebody give this guy a watch and ship him off to a retirement home in Boca Raton.
Update: Todd Zywicki at The Volokh Conspiracy has more thoughts about Broder here.
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