Bad News Reporting: It’s Not A Bug, It’s A Feature!

You can’t be in the business world for long without being impressed by how hard companies work to be good at what they do. And yet, here and there, there are exceptions. In recent years, the liberal news media–what used to be known as the “mainstream” media–have been in that category. Time after time, with mind-numbing regularity, they miss news that would be of interest to their readers. Of course, the stories they miss are not random–they are stories that make the Democratic Party, or liberal politicians or organizations, look bad.
Earlier today, Scott noted the lame explanations that Jill Abramson of the New York Times gave for her paper’s failure to cover the Van Jones story. Those explanations, if true, would have been humiliating to the Times. But everyone who follows that paper knew the real reason why it avoided the Jones story: it didn’t want its readers to know about Jones’ radical (not to say wacky) views, because they would reflect badly on the Obama administration.
This is a remarkable feature of today’s news media: liberal outlets (i.e., virtually every daily newspaper, the news agencies like the Associated Press, the weekly news magazines, CNN, MSNBC and all of the broadcast networks, with the exception of a handful of honorable reporters) consider it part of their function to censor the news in order to prevent their customers from learning things that would be inconvenient for Democrats and liberals.
Another recent story that fits this pattern is the exposure of ACORN, a close ally of President Obama, the recipient of many millions of taxpayer dollars, and (until the scandal erupted) the Census Bureau’s partner in carrying out the 2010 census, as an essentially criminal group. As Paul Chesser points out at the American Spectator, this story, which is of obvious public interest, has been effectively hushed up by virtually the entire “mainstream” media.
At Big Hollywood, John Nolte reviews the media history of the last few weeks:

In recent days and weeks three major news stories have broken here online, at Fox News or the Washington Times; everywhere but the mainstream media. Worse still, as the stories unfolded, the media willfully ignored them until, much to their embarrassment, they were forced to give grudging coverage only after official action — in the form of a resignation (Van Jones), reassignment (the NEA) or dismissal (ACORN) — occurred that could no longer be ignored.
Mainstream news outlets have been caught off guard before, but they used to play catch up. Today they play “hide the ball.” For as long as I’ve been politically aware the media’s been biased, but willfully ignoring a major national news story at great cost to their credibility and relevance is a new low. So what changed?

Nolte proceeds to diagnose the disorder. I think he is exactly correct:

Once trailblazer media watchdogs like talk radio, The Media Research Center and Bernard Goldberg were joined with the awesome power of the Internet and Fox News, the media’s sins of omission and commission could no longer be hidden from the general public, or denied. This gave the Fourth Estate two options. They could either: A) Clean up their act and do their jobs honorably … or B) Surrender their fig leafs of objectivity and run amok as the ideologues they really are.
Doing their jobs honorably would mean a setback for the Leftist cause, and so they chose B. …
The rise of those who watch the Watchmen forced smart, savvy individuals to consciously choose between being tenacious, curious journalists who will hold the powerful accountable, or to finally come out of the closet and declare themselves the ideological warriors they really are.
They have chosen to become the Palace Guards.

As Nolte points out, the liberal media’s choice has at least one precedent: the entertainment industry, which has cranked out something like 14 anti-Iraq war movies, every one of which has been a box office disaster. This observation echoes a point that Michael Medved has long made. The movie industry, contrary to popular belief, is not just profit-driven. Rather, left-wing ideology makes the studios (like newspapers, news magazines and network news) willing to sell out their stockholders and lose money in efforts–vain, one hopes–to serve the liberal cause.
Nolte thinks that by choosing left-wing ideology over service to their customers, the “mainstream” media are committing suicide. There is considerable evidence that he is right. Still, we should not underestimate the ability of news organs like the New York Times, the Washington Post, NBC, CBS, CNN and the Associated Press to create mischief in the meantime.