It seems that the Gannon Story is gaining some traction in the MSM. Just to recap. Eason Jordan, the head of CNN news makes public statements that US troops are murdering journalists (just the latest in a series of similar statements). The other big recent media “story” is that of Jeff Gannon, who it seems, operates under a fictitious name and runs a small conservative blog, got access to White House Press briefings. That the media would be completely silent on the Jordan Story, and give any play to the Gannon story speaks volumes about the prism through which the MSM views the world.
What was the wrong that Gannon committed? A wrong that the media evidently thinks is more deserving of coverage than public proclamations by one of Media’s most powerful individuals that US troops are intentionally killing journalists? Well it’s difficult to say but it appears to stem from softball questions Gannon asked at a White House press briefing and worse yet, that Gannon had “conservative leanings”, even, God forbid, conservative ties. The media likes to use the term “balanced” about their reporting. It implies even handedness, looking at both sides of an issue, letting both sides be heard. The Gannon story provides a great opportunity to see how the term “balanced” is practically applied by the MSM.
I’ve seem my fair share of Bush’s press briefings. The vast majority of questions are premised on assumptions that are critical of the administration. In some cases, the questions are premised on an accusation or allegation that is unfounded or untrue. In many instances these accusations come directly from the Democrats and not from any independent reporting done by the news organization itself.
In the world of “balanced” coverage wouldn’t one expect some questions from the press that weren’t critical? Of course. But how is “balance” put into practice by the MSM? In the context of a steady stream of negative news about Bush, where he is repeatedly asked tough, even unfair questions from the press at the briefings, it happened. The question that rang out around the world. A question not premised on criticism of the administration, but on criticism of the, dare I say it, Democrats. Not only was the question not expected, or even accepted by the liberal media, this poor Gannon guy faced a literal inquisition, first from liberal blogs, and now in the mainstream.
It appears that “balance” means balancing scathing coverage of Bush, with really, really scathing coverage. Look no further than the branding of Fox News as a conservative mouthpiece. Real analysis of media coverage leading up to the election (conducted by analyzing the number of positive and negative stories about the Bush administration) actually showed that Fox had more “negative” stories about Bush than positive, but had more positive coverage as compared to the other major news sources. Not only is the MSM not balanced, they’re downright intolerant.
A comparison of the “scandals” being pursued by blogs from the left and blogs from the right reveals a lot about their respective roles vis-a- vis the mainstream media. If you read the lefty blogs, they are every bit as convinced about the Gannon issue being a big story, as conservative bloggers are about the Eason Jordan issue. However, by any objective measure the Gannon story is nowhere near as significant. On one hand you have the head of one of the most powerful news organizations on the planet making public statements that U.S. troops are murdering journalists, and on the other is an unknown blogger who was given a press pass.
Why the focus by the lefty bloggers on such ridiculously small issues? Simple, that’s all they have. Not because there aren’t news stories that tend to favor their liberal causes, but because those stories are already being reported by the MSM. It is precisely because the MSM has such a left leaning bias that conservative blogs gain their strength. They are filling a monstrous void left open by the MSM. If this story were reversed and, say an administration official, and not Eason Jordan made the same statements, the lefty blogs wouldn’t be scrambling to get the story out. It would be plastered all over every paper in the country, and being covered by CNN et al on a constant 24 hour news cycle. That’s why liberal blogs are so extreme. There is no void for them to fill. Only small cracks.
(cross posted at PoliPundit)
Last night I watched CNN’s Aaron Brown do a very solemn piece about Lynne Stewart, the lawyer who was convicted of assisting her client conduct terrorist activities. The solemnity did not appear to be based on the alarming fact that a US attorney would threaten her fellow citizens this way, but on the punishment that Stewart faced for her crimes. CNN’s piece made particular mention of the fact that she faced many years in prison and further noted that Stewart had children. It is completely revolting (though not surprising) that CNN would focus on her loss, given the hundreds of children in recent years who have learned of their parents’ death at the hands of terrorists, perhaps the very terrorists Stewart assisted. What was further revolting was the “thought provoking” discussion CNN attempted to raise about how Stewart was prosecuted using video taped evidence of her meetings with her client.
CNN showed Stewart, apparently a victim herself, giving a tearful and impassioned speech to the press about the evils of government denying its citizens the right to counsel, without in any way scrutinizing what Stewart was saying. The problem is there is no thought provoking issue here. Solicitor and client privilege does not extend to communications in the furtherance of a criminal activity. This isn’t cutting edge, ground breaking jurisprudence either, but a longstanding rule of law. The foundations of this rule are not simply based on the policy that a lawyer must not be shielded from his or her own criminal activity, but are based on protecting the sanctity of the solicitor and client privilege itself. If the privilege is allowed to become a tool for committing wrongs its very existence is threatened. Lawyers who abuse the privilege do so with the knowledge that they are jeopardizing others’ right to effective legal assistance in the future.
That Lynne Stewart would continue to tearfully proclaim the sanctity of the very privilege she was threatening, like the terrorist hiding behind civilians in the battlefield, shows just how much she has become like her clients.
That CNN would, to any degree, portray her as a victim of the justice system shows just how far CNN’s leanings have become like those of Stewart and her clients.