McClatchy Whines: Public Unfair to News Media


By: Warner Todd Huston

You… yes, you reading this right now. McClatchy wants you to know you are mean to them, your mistrust of them is merely egged on by a sly political tactic, and you fall for it because you only get your news from an “ideologically tailored” source. In other words, they are telling you that you are misinformed, mean-spirited, easily led… well, they are telling you that you are stupid. And then they wonder why people don’t trust them!

In “McCain campaign systematically targets the news media,” McClatchy writers Steven Thomma and Margaret Talev decided to try and explain why the Republicans are attacking the media with their basic conclusion being that it is an unfair convention that the GOP has employed at least since Spiro T. Agnew (of “Nattering nabobs of negativity” fame) was VP. But, despite the truth staring them in the face, they explain away the ire Americans have with the Old Media.

In fact, it is an interesting tack that Thomma and Talev take on that ire that the McCain campaign has shown the media for their feeding frenzy of attacks on Governor Sarah Palin. Even as McClatchy seems to recognize that the media has been responsible for “errors, rumors and perceived sexism” as they piled onto Palin, they still arrive at the fault being that of Republicans and the public and not the media.

Capitalizing on errors, rumors and perceived sexism in the frenzied first round of reporting on Palin, the McCain campaign has taken advantage of a changing media landscape, grouping together blogs and supermarket tabloids with mainstream newspapers and television to tar the media as one corrupt monolith, stirring up the conservative base and working to pressure the media from further aggressive reporting on Palin.

The campaign insists that it was only trying to back off a sloppy and irresponsible media.

I can’t help but laugh at this spin. You see, if the media hadn’t been responsible for perpetrating these “errors, rumors and perceived sexism” in the first place the Mccain campaign would have had nothing to “capitalize” on. Yet, McClatchy here focuses on the McCain camp as if its “capitalizing” was some how cynical or illegitimate.

I suppose McClatchy would like it better if no one pointed out their failures and merely accepted their attempts to destroy Palin as the price we have to pay for “real” journalism?

Finally, Thomma and Talev (it took two people to spin this tale!) launch into their accusation that attacking the media is just an old GOP tactic so, presumably, it should be ignored as an old playbook move.

Starting off with an admission we don’t often see, the piece moves to the attack.

But it’s perhaps an easier sell for Republicans, who are more inclined to distrust the media, which polls have shown to include more liberal Democrats than conservative Republicans.

Admitting that you are all liberals, McClatchy, won’t assuage your guilt here because you next go on to insult every user of the new media.

And it’s easier still in an age when a large percentage of voters get their news only from media that reflect their own thinking, such as Fox News’ Sean Hannity for conservatives and MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann for liberals.

“It’s always been a tactic in the playbook of both parties. But at a time when more voters can get their information from ideologically tailored sources, it’s an even easier sell,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California.

I see. So, the media’s attack should be excused because people like to listen to Sean Hannity? This line of attack on the New Media is a favorite of the Old these days. It posits that people are less informed because they only hear one side of the story, apparently this is unlike the Old Media’s storied “glory days” when people supposedly got a more “balanced” news product. (By the way, Jesse M. Unruh was an old time, California machine Democrat. More McClatchy “nonpartisanship,” I suppose.)

First of all, this “ideologically tailored sources” argument is as false as can be. In the past 40 years there has been little by way of “balanced” coverage of the world in the U.S. media. Most media outlets since the 1960s have been of left-wing ideology. The right has attacked the media since Barry Goldwater for that exact reason. It is a wholly legitimate complaint.

Before the 1960s when the media became nearly monolithically left leaning, the news industry was more diverse because each major metropolitan area had several papers, each taking a particular ideological direction and supporting a particular party or candidate. But, guess what happened in those days? People by and large bought the paper that supported their own personal ideology.

The claim that people somehow used to get more balanced news but only now have succumbed to this supposedly new day of “ideologically tailored sources” is pure bunk. It is human nature to associate with those of like mind. People have ALWAYS favored sources of info that favors their own preconceived notions. But, over the last 30 years there hasn’t been an outlet for folks to find news with a conservative bent until the rise of talk radio and the New Media.

Yet, McClatchy takes no notice of this fact pretending instead that the New Media is somehow skewing the news in some new and unheard of way. At long last the Old Media is losing its iron grip on the news and they don’t like it one bit as this McClatchy article proves.

So, the upshot of this article is that the attack on the media is just a tactic by cynical Republicans and signed onto by stupid Americans who are not well informed. Hence, the take away here is that McClatchy thinks you are stupid.

Don’t you feel special, now?

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