January 04, 2006

Defending the Legacy Media

An editorial by a friend of mine who leans leftward and might be regarded as a present-day conventional liberal (as opposed to those like Dean Esmay, Jeff Goldstein, and this author, who call themselves classical liberals).

Terrible news about the miners in West Virginia. I was awake, of course, and watching when CNN broke the news that initial stories of twelve survivors were wrong and, in fact, there was only one survivor. Over on MSNBC, they were running tape of an eariler press conference on the subject, and on FOX a panel of conservatives were assuring each other that the scandals surrounding the White House and Republican congressmen weren't really scandals and wouldn't affect the Administration or the Republican grip on Congress.

Only CNN was live. Only CNN had the story. An astonished Anderson Cooper broke the news of a single survivor after a women ran down from the Baptist Church where miner's families were gathered and blurted the distressing news to him.

The New York newspapers, which are put to bed before 3 a.m., when the news of the "miscommunication" broke, all ran headlines like "ALIVE" (the New York Daily News).

But again, experience and class tells. The New York Times ran the story saying that families had told them twelve miners were alive, but they (the Times) were unable to confirm it. It seems the other papers published the news as fact, whereas the Times did not.

CNN and The New York Times take it in the balls about every fifteen minutes on FOX and conservative talk radio, where they are called un-American, pro-terrorist and things even more vile. They are favorite targets of the Right wingnuts. It's all bullshit, of course.

Last night, CNN and the New York Times showed why they are the preeminent news sources, world-wide. They are the best at what they do, and the fact that they're not perfect detracts not one whit from that.

I'll remind everyone here that this friend of mine has been very kind to me in a lot of ways. So, sticking to the facts, how would you begin to quantify the degree of error in various news sources? If you accept the premise that we all want to believe what we want to believe—and would prefer to get our information from organs that share our respective slants—how would you cast doubt on either my friend's conviction about the New York Times, or my own?

Posted by Attila Girl at January 4, 2006 06:49 PM | TrackBack

Oh yes, this one data point completely demolishes the argument that the major media is left-leaning and unreliable.


Posted by: John at January 4, 2006 07:06 PM

Well, of course it doeesn't. But if you were constructing an argument from the ground up--and making it as user-friendly as possible--where would you start?

That's the thing I can't quite figure out: where one would begin. It would help if the NYT had its own version of Patterico: at least there would be a concentration of the data all in one place. But how would one structure such an undertaking?

Posted by: Attila Girl at January 4, 2006 08:19 PM

So Fox was NOT spreading an unsubstantiated rumor(they were talking politics, according to the author) and they are a-holes? And didn't CNN spread the unsub rumors, before they reported the facts? And that makes them "pre-eminent"???? I wish someone would come up with an injection to make up for a deficiency of linear thinking.... Maybe if reporters weren't trying to overhear conversations(or one part thereof) or using modified scanners to intercept communications...or would wait for the officials at the scene to make announcements---this wouldn't happen. Nope. It doesn't wash. Back to kicking them in the balls--if only they had them!

Posted by: Darrell at January 4, 2006 10:23 PM

Late-Breaking News.....CNN is reproting on the sighting of a Giant Sand Squid. No reports of casualties....YET!!!! NYTs in holding pattern...

Posted by: Darrell at January 4, 2006 10:27 PM

Late-Breaking News.....CNN is reporting on the sighting of a Giant Sand Squid. No reports of casualties....YET!!!! NYTs in holding pattern...

Posted by: Darrell at January 4, 2006 10:27 PM

i'm just not sure he's right actually. i was up, had fox on, the story broke around 2 a.m. during the rerun of special report. maybe they were a few seconds behind, i don't know. don't have cnn.

Posted by: maggie katzen at January 4, 2006 10:32 PM

I truly love that sand squid.

Posted by: Attila Girl at January 5, 2006 01:02 AM

I have an idea...what about "No Official Word" or "Waiting..."and leave it at that? Recap the rumors, if you must. Can't we wait? The Chicago Tribune is reporting today(Thursday) that the early edition of the NYT got it wrong, too. No 'awards" to go around on this story. plenty of blame.

Posted by: Darrell at January 5, 2006 08:30 AM

If you use the media standard that they use for Bush and WMD's then the answer is clear.

They LIED.

Posted by: Jack at January 5, 2006 08:37 AM

Re the supposed excellence of CNN, you might cite Eason Jordan's remarks about that network's handling of reporting from Iraq.

I'd also note that "Fox" and "conservative radio" are totally irrelevant to the opinions of many of us whom this individual would doubtless categorize as being on the Right. I for one don't watch much TV, and Fox news almost never. I don't enjoy radio talk shows; indeed, my car radio broke about a year ago and I haven't bothered to get it fixed.

Posted by: David Foster at January 5, 2006 11:21 AM

Here's some background.

I'd say if they couldn't confirm it, don't print it/put it on the air. The responsible thing to do considering the situation. It should have headlined "Unable to confirm if there are any survivors" with "families were informed they were alive" on paragraph 33 instead of a headline of "12 of 13 Alive" with "unable to confirm" in paragraph 33. They decided they wanted a scoop instead of acting responsibly.

Posted by: dorkafork at January 6, 2006 08:09 PM

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