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Contentions

Media Wars

The White House took issue over the weekend with the New York Times‘s characterization of its position on the GI bill. Hillary Clinton has had it with NBC/MSNBC. A day doesn’t pass without the McCain camp taking a shot at a mainstream media outlet. Has the coverage actually gotten worse? Or is the victimization imaginary?

Perhaps it is a little bit of both. As to the latter, with omnipresent YouTube both the media and those they cover have access to who said what to whom. The reporters’ notes of a given event are not the final say. If the media gets it factually wrong or take liberties in interpreting events, the aggrieved subject can fight back. And through the power of Google a candidate or official can easily do his own research and combat the media version of events.

But it is also true that, in the fight for news niches, some outlets have given up all pretense of objectivity. When the most rabidly partisan cable show host sits in the anchor chair to read the evening’s primary returns, it is little wonder that the “hard news” coverage is neither hard, nor news. It is frothy opinion dressed up in the guise of news. (Even other liberal outlets were bothered.) So it shouldn’t surprise anyone when, for example, Hillary Clinton’s team objects. And of course, if mainstream media figures candidly acknowledge their bias, there is every reason for those getting the short end of the coverage to object.

The media already has a confidence rating lower than Congress with the American people. So the consequence of all the pushback is likely to make the public even more skeptical of much of what they read and see. And that perhaps is the real motive of many of those pushing back so hard. It would also be nice if, as a result of all the scrutiny, the mainstream coverage actually got better–but that may be too much to ask.



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