Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Media Assassination

The media's coverage of Dean has been so overpoweringly biased, nasty, and repetitive that it is tempting to find a conspiracy to derail Dean's nomination, thereby. Indeed, Dean's own vows to redress corporate domination of the media and to breakup media conglomerates seem sufficient motive for a conspiracy among the media elite to stop Dean at any cost. The key role which media distortion played in cutting into Dean's bandwagon support almost begs the question of whether the media had it out for Dean. I thought so myself, and I still think that at the policy level, there was and is a bias against Dean.

But as media insiders will tell you, the truth is a lot less impressive. The sad truth is that there are a lot more hacks and morons in journalism than there are journalists. The result is pack-journalism that follows on self-generated conventional wisdom, and pseudo-analysis which focuses obsessively on analyzing other press, rather than reality. Add to this the fact that bytes, moments of sound and image that reinforce and encapsulate a simplistic story frame, are nearly irresistable to a budget concious industry with a pipe always hungry for product, and you have the recipie for injustice and disaster which needs no villainous conspiracy to set the whole cruel shit-storm in motion.

Hence the appologies. Like children playing with a mouse who get carried away by its squeals, they meant no real harm; but more power than wisdom was given them by circumstances. The parents are ultimately responsible. The editors and executives of the major media failed to check the biases and trends that were clearly and demonstrably developing are ethically culpable. They failed to insure unbiased coverage and to correct bias such bias with sound editorial policies. These trends toward terribly biased coverage, so obvious to even an outside observer, should have been addressed. The fact that they weren't, at least until it was too late, is evidence enough of intent for me.

While I cannot reasonably claim that Dean's treatment constitued a media assassination of a leading Presidential nominee, I do assert that the mouse has a case for negligence, perhaps even with a malicious intent, against those who are ultimately responsible for promulgating and enforcing the ethical and professional standards that are supposed to prevent our media from becoming mere propagandists.


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