Journalism’s Age of Shame

Eric Alterman chastises the media for buying what Breitbart has to sell them. Instead of eating crow and repenting for circulating the edited Sherrod tapes, they apologized for Breitbart and equated his lies with the Journolist controversy. Alterman is pissed.

And the MSM machers? Well, they can't help but notice that
they got taken this time, but they prefer to chalk it up to "ideology."
"There's been this proliferation of partisan media—whether it's MSNBC
and Fox at night, or it's Breitbart on the right or Huffington Post on
the left," complains Politico executive editor James VandeHei, and it makes honest folk like MSM reporters "overreact." Writing with Politico
editor in chief John Harris, VandeHei pronounces the dawning of an "Age
of Rage," equating Breitbart and company's perversion of the truth with
the fact that some liberal journalists and academics participated in
occasionally less than polite discussions about conservatives (and one
another). The private discussions of this listserv, called
"Journolist"—discussed in my previous column—were either hacked by or
leaked to Tucker Carlson's right-wing website, The Daily Caller, and, as
with the Sherrod tape, edited for the purposes of deception and false
accusation. In the careless reasoning of the Politico honchos,
these discussions deserved equation with Breitbart's nefarious
techniques because both "featured sharp personal attacks against
political opponents. Both revolved around indignant claims from people
claiming to be victims of bias and the corrupt ideological agendas of
their opponents—all the while stoking and profiting from the bias and
conspiratorial instincts of partisans on their own side." As a result,
they worry, "Responsible people in power and in the mainstream media are
only beginning to grapple with this new environment—in which facts
hardly matter except as they can be used as weapon or shield in a
nonstop ideological war."

Instead, of demanding facts, the mainstream media is too cowed by charges of being liberal to check conservative hacks, like Breitbart. Excellent article. 

Get ready for a big lawsuit, Mr. Breitbart.


4 thoughts on “Journalism’s Age of Shame

  1. She’s almost certain to lose the lawsuit and if she does win the first round, the mainstream media is going to be filing “friend of the court” briefs on Breitbart’s side as none of them would be happy with anything that weakens protection against libel suits.

  2. I mean, I feel sorry for Sherrod and she got a raw deal. But, why would anybody want to make it easier for government officials to control press coverage and how could she possibly win without having that effect?

  3. Malice aforethought or reckless disregard for the truth.
    On the face of it, Breitbart does look reckless, but it’s been a long time since I read my AP section on libel. Failing to ask “Is that the whole speech?” is like a sportswriter trying to pass off the halftime score as a final. It’s just incredibly basic.
    I’ll bet the discovery on “malice aforethought” could also be very interesting.

  4. That was kind of my point. Nobody running a journalism thingie (i.e. publisher) wants to get into what is ‘reckless disregard,’ especially with regard to somebody who is probably in a high enough position to get counted as a “public figure.” Especially since many other news sources copied Breitbart’s story with just as little regard for the truth as Breitbart. For example, I’m guessing the NYT leadership remembers a certain physicis at Los Alamos.
    Discovery against Breitbart is one thing. A precedent allowing discovery in more situations is another.
    My guess is that this blows over quietly.

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