Media Death Watch

This morning my blog stream is full of media death watch news. Clearly, conservative blogs tend to focus on media bias. But with the astonishing rate of media fragmentation, the MSM is increasingly segmenting its market and producing content for a left leaning audience. As such, they are less and less purveyors of objective news, and increasingly acting as a countervailing force against right wing blogs, Drudge, talk radio and Fox News Channel. How else does one interpret the following?

Start with the MSM and the Scooter Libby trial. If you read the leading newspapers, you see very little, if anything, regarding the defense attorney's cross examination of prosecution witnesses. There are countless articles on how Fitzgerald's witnesses are making mince meat of the Libby defense. But find me an article that mentions the fact that every single one of these witnesses has been discredited in cross. Surprised?

Additionally, note Clarice Feldman's discussion of Tim Russert's testimony in the trial yesterday. Key fact - Russert hid behind the contention that the prosecutor's questions would have a "chilling effect" on the media's "right" to protect sources. Meanwhile, he was provided the very same information to the FBI. And now he's pretending that he doesn't remember the FBI interviews. The man known for beating up politicians on TV can't stand the heat. Not surprisingly, all is reported with a pro-Russert spin.

Then go to NRO's Media Blog discussing the media's reporting on the non-binding amendments being debated in the Senate. For those not paying attention, the major papers headlined the story yesterday in a way that suggested that the Republicans were shutting down debate. The exact opposite was true. Now stories are appearing from the very same newspapers that Republicans are losing the "PR War". So let me get this straight. The papers misreport the story to help the Democrats and then say that the Republicans can't influence the debate effectively. Sorry, but my head is just spinning.

And now onto more traditional big media follies. The Chicago Tribune seems to consider itself a presidential king maker, as if that sort of thing were still possible. Two days after Rudy Giuliani announces for president, they come out with a hit piece that is clearly meant to weaken his candidacy. It is filled with the kind of double standard reporting to which we have become accustomed from the MSM.

And not to be outdone, the New York Times continues to work the "Can a Mormon be president?" meme against Mitt Romney. Funny how the only people asking that question come from the left. Everyone else got by the religious test issue back in 1960. But hey, if you're on the left you can't be a bigot, right? Oh, and one other question. Why didn't we have this debate when Harry Reid was being considered for Senate Majority Leader? Just asking.

Next comes news that Air America is for sale. Remember when Air America was being formed and the New York Times wrote tens of stories about how AA was the answer to "right wing" talk radio? Remember when Air America was caught embezzling funds from a Bronx based charity and the MSM was almost completely silent on the story? Remember when one after another of the Air America personalities quit the network because they weren't being paid and stations were dropping their shows, again not reported? Well, now the network is being dumped and the only site reporting this morning is a blog called The Smoking Gun (apparently big news because their server is down!).

And finally, there is Hugh Hewitt comparing a newspaper business that is in a transition not unlike that of 19th century shipbuilding moving from sail to steam power. Hewitt quotes Pinch Sulzberger noting that his paper may not be a print publication in five years. Moving to that format will be difficult and dangerous for the business. I, for one, have little confidence that Pinch is capable of managing that kind of business transformation.

But the larger point is that barriers to entry and online advertising rates are so low that written media is fragmenting at an astonishing rate. And given the MSM's propensity to report with a well versed left leaning agenda, my question, why should have any more influence in the public discourse than a well trafficked blog?

With more morning news like today's, they won't... and their influence will sink faster than a sailing ship on the rocks.

End of rant.


Terrence McCarthy

8:44 PM

Watching all this Bulletin: Anna Nicole Smith is Dead, wall to wall, JFK Shot Dead in Dallas-like coverage by the cable guys this afternoon - I have to agree with you. This crap ain't news, and as Rick in Morocco might have said, between puffs from his cancer stick, it isn't worth " A hill of beans in this crazy world. "