Note: Still burnt out from the last month of the campaign and reading and thinking about the aftermath. Here is a piece I wrote four years ago, when control of the House passed to Democrats. You'll remember the Republicans still had the Senate and White House. You might want to consider it for comparison to what's being said today. A few facts have changed, Drudge is eclipsed by other professional liars but most of it is pretty much the same.
Now that the Congress is changing hands the corporate media has rediscovered that old fashioned virtue, responsibility. Mara Liasson had a piecethis morning echoing what has to be the most arrogantly hypocritical quotation of the year:
Democrats are “beginning to understand that with victory comes responsibility’. Spoken by that paragon of the same, George W. Bush
Shorter Republican establishment:, "The Bush mess is going to be blamed on Democrats who don’t have the authority to clean it up."
In the past two decades we watched them play political ping-pong, going after Bill Clinton to destroy his presidency with lies and insanely wild speculations presented as if they were true. The people who spread the lies knew they were lies, they aren’t stupid, just corrupt. They lied for the Republicans every way they could possibly have come up with. Then, once the Bush II regime had take office with Republicans we were all supposed to operate on blind faith in them. During the period of the most rampant corruption, eg. Cheney’s secret energy meetings, the media did their covering up for them.
Since Democrats are fairly secure in their prospects to take over the House and just barely set to administer the Senate, responsibility is back in style in the DC based press. This back and forth depending on who is in power has happened often enough for some enterprising social scientist to write a definitive paper on the subject. The Press Requirement That Democrats Get It Right 100% of The Time, Republicans Can Screw Off Big Time, how’s that for a prospective title?
Don’t bother trying to change the corporate media, they are a pack of liars for hire. The only thing to do with the DC press corps and other Republican mouthpieces is to destroy their credibility and to build a real news system apart from them, one in which the corporate benefit of the medium is not the message.
Arianna, Kos, Atrios, you other successful organs of the new media, we need a real reporting capability. The old, dishonest, corporate model of news won’t ever give us that again. We need reporters to go to Washington, to learn facts, to get two independent sources for those facts to show them to a real editor who has news ethics and then to publish the facts no matter what they show. And that means hiring real reporters and real editors, not the show boats, not the people who are going to get asked on The News Hour or C-Span.
Before we continue, cut the ‘opinion journalism’ crap. If the ‘opinion’ doesn’t get two independent sources of verification then it’s not journalism, it’s dishonest.
The United States will not be a democracy until The People have the facts. Air America’s mistakes should teach you something, you need to put together real funding before such a thing can start up. NPR should show you that there has to be an inviolable fire-wall between funding sources and the news function.
Ethical lapses were the downfall of NPR as a news organ, they started schmoozing at the start. They should never have hired Cokie Roberts or Linda Wertheimer. Once you start down that road of insider access you are doomed to become a bunch of shills. Reporters, editors, executives of a news medium should never, ever socialize with their subjects they shouldn’t ever aspire to become part of the in crowd. Anyone who does should have no say in any part of a news operation. Owners, well, I don’t think that a real, continuing news operation should be controlled by an owner or a family of them, even the best owner gives out and the family falls away from it’s origins. A not-for-profit structure without celebrity or would-be patrons on the board is safest though nothing in life is entirely safe. No one who is not deeply committed to democracy and the ethics of news should be involved no matter how much money they have. I.F. and Esther Stone did more news of importance than just about any two corporate news operations during his day.
I have a deep bias towards radio as a model, but not American radio. If you want to look at a good news operation, CBC Radio One’s The World At Six is one of the best, though it used to be even better. An internet broadcast could include visuals but film footage is a lousy way to get information about most news. The number of words consumed per second goes down too fast when you have to worry about film. How much have you actually ever learned from watching a Fred Weisman film? The number of words per second will never be as high as it is for reading text but it is easier to listen than it is to sit and read and the information is contained mostly in those words. That is why I think a radio model makes the most sense.
Matt Drudge, the Republican gossip monger, is the media’s favorite blogger. You are never going to be able to compete for that position, not unless you start up as initiators of Republican lies and he’s got a head start. Starting our own news service is the only way we are going to get more traction in the real world.