A fast moving multimedia world and Eyeballs
by Duckman GR
If you watched The News Hour the other night you saw Len Downie, executive editor of the Washington Post, try to explain away his papers coverage of the Bush White House, after the recent mea culpa of Howard Kurtz. Atrios, of course, has been on this, and wonders about Downie’s claim about Truth-Squading Powell’s U.N. Lie Fest.
I wonder about this:
LEONARD DOWNIE: Well, administration views ended up on page one because it was the administration deciding whether or not we were going to go to war.
As if the Administration gets to decide what and what is not “News.”
TERENCE SMITH: Len Downie, let me get your reaction to a quote in the Howard Kurz story from Karen de Young, a very distinguished editor and reporter at the Post who said, quote, "we are inevitably the mouth piece for whatever administration is in power.
If the president stands up and says something, we report what the president said." Is that the way you see your role?
LEONARD DOWNIE: We have an obligation to report what the president says or what the Congress says or what the Supreme Court says.
Is that the Republican Dictated Congress only, or does that include the near silenced opposition, Len? Does that mean every Man-on-Dog story, every freakin lie, every Alan Keyes absurdity? Does that mean that any Republican, like Michelle Malkin is equivalent to any Democrat, like Vice President Gore or General Wesley Clark? Coz that's what you did, and continue to do, Len.
By tolerating this kind of crap, Len: MALKIN: Well, yes. Why don‘t people ask him more specific questions about the shrapnel in his leg. They are legitimate questions about whether or not it was a self-inflicted wound.
DOWNIE: And then we have an obligation to test it and to question whether or not what was said was sound, was based on the facts, whether or not there is another part of the story that was not given out by government. I don't think it makes us a mouth piece.
Oy, indeed. I'm not exactly sure when they tested Powell's UN Dog and Pony show, but they must have, right?
And then there’s this one:
LEONARD DOWNIE: What goes on inside newsrooms is complicated as well. We did have 9/11. We did have the war on Afghanistan to cover. It was a difficult war to cover because journalists had to go there on their own and risk their lives to cover that war.
We had, during the run-up to the war, the Columbia Shuttle disaster, which occupied a lot of attention in newsrooms. There were a lot of things going on and I think that made it more difficult. Sometimes people confuse motive; that is to say whether or not we are pulling our punches, with just the workload we have and concentration.
I think the main problem American media have in this fast moving multimedia world is keeping our eye on the ball all the time or keeping several eyes on several balls all the time. And I think we took our eye of that particular ball during that particular period -- I think we have been pretty tough since then.
And this is the crux of it. It was hard work, and they were so busy with popular or perceived popular pap for the masses, and continue today with Kobe Michael Scott, personal tragedies and crimes that really only truly affect those in the immediate families but look sensational, that they took their eye off the ball. And did I mention it was hard work. And they took their eye off the ball, and enabled us into a senseless, wasteful, Pandora's box of a war.
A war, where people die permanently was brewing, AND THEY TOOK THEIR EYE OFF THE BALL!?!?!?
Len Downie does some justifications and rationalizations, but the fact of the matter is that the editors and management of the national media simply did not do their jobs. They allowed, nee, encouraged, embedding of reporters in Iraq, they dropped the expensive and uninteresting Afghanistan thing, uh, you remember Afghanistan, the place that tall Turbaned dude operated from, you know the guy that headed the 9/11 attack on America?
Perhaps a somnambulant press is stirring, as recent episodes with Chris Mathews and the New York Times expose of the Chuck Colson inspired Swift Plumbers suggest. If they've lost Tweety, have they lost the War?