Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Missing In Action

Should we be outraged at the lateness and paucity of the MSM's coverage of the Downing Street Memo? Of course.
Should we be surprised? Not at all.
I think the Downing Street non-coverage is, by and large, a byproduct of the right wing's success at burying the CBS coverage of George W. Bush's National Guard service lapses under a ton of diversionary baloney.
Another secret document surfaces. Is it authentic? Who knows. Should we try to verify its authenticity? Let's let somebody else do it first. That way, if a mistake is made, somebody else can take the heat and we can act all outraged that they didn't do a better job of authenticating it.
It's a pathetic but understandable response from a media that has been threatened and bullied for five years if its members even notice anything strange about the Bush administration.
It's safer and easier to focus on celebrity scandals and limit government coverage to repeating the press releases issued from the West Wing.
But now NBC News has begun authenticating the follow-up documents that surfaced in the United Kingdom last weekend. The Washington Post covered the documents over the weekend. Is there a new wave of courage coming on?
I doubt it. The media is responding to the outpouring of criticism it has received from the blogosphere and from its own watchdogs. At the moment, that criticism is louder and hurts more than the threats coming from the White House. Oddly, investigative reporting is today's path of least resistance.
So what do we do? Keep up the pressure.
The MSM will cover this story as long as people out there don't allow them to drop it. I suspect that even The New York Times, which has done a particularly shameful job on the story so far, will print a major thumbsucker on it, probably next Sunday.
The media are commercial enterprises. They respond to the loudest demands. For the moment, on this issue, those demands are coming in from the left. But if we stop, the shouts of the right will bury this story once again.