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Ignoring the Fourth Estate

Austin Bay has a guest post over at Jay Rosen's PressThink blog in which he criticizes the MSM for being stuck on Vietnam and Watergate, but also criticizes W and his staff for stiff-arming the White House correspondents and denying them information. Austin thinks this is a mistake and bad tactics for the War on Terror; not all of the commenters agree with him.


Many of the commenters point out that the information landscape has changed. The MSM isn't the only, or even the dominant, source of news as it was during the Vietnam War. There is Rush Limbaugh and his legions of imitators on talk radio; there is Fox News Channel, and there are the hundreds of weblogs out there, all working to ensure that the Conventional WisdomTM of the New York-Washington-LA axis isn' the only voice being heard in the ongoing public debate over what we're supposed to be doing here in America. The proof of their success is that despite a full-court press by the MSM, questions about Kerry's anti-war activities effectively destroyed his attempts to sell himself to voters as a war hero even as the attempts to revive charges that W had "dodged the draft" by joining the Air National Guard and gotten preferential treatment there foundered and sank despite Dan Rather's attempts to pass off forged memos as documentary proof of such favors

It's been a long-standing article of faith in the Republican Party that the MSM tilts heavily to the left, and in just about every libertarian or consevative blog you can find posts alleging or demonstrating how not only the opinion but the news pages of the local fish wrappers are biased against the GOP and those who vote for it. One of the reasons Ronald Reagan is so remembered as a hero is that he treated the MSM with amiable disregard, going over their heads to speak directly to the American people about issues he felt were particularly important. Along the same lines, W seems to have taken a page from Reagan's playbook and has gone directly to the people both in speeches and through the blogosphere, though his disdain of the press is quite clear. (To be honest, if I had to deal with a senile, raving moonbat like Helen Thomas, I'd probably do the same.) Bay thinks this is a mistake, but...I have to wonder. Despite the embargo on good news coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan, nonetheless the word does manage to get out that our troops are accomplishing great things in both countries, and the locals are picking up the burden of rebuilding as well as taking on the task of internal security. There is a hard core of anti-war protestors, but the Silent Majority that supported Nixon against McGovern in 1972 isn't so silent any more. So maybe W's dismissive, possibly even hostile attitude toward the NYDCLA press is working after all. It's possible that the MSM may be realizing that they can't survive playing the same old obstructive partisan games, and changes may have to be made.

Considering the success of Fox News, it's amazing more of the press hasn't realized that there's quite a bit of money to be made in serving up less bias with the morning dose of newsprint.