The MSM's Lust For Scandal...


Why, over a weekend so full of news regarding important issues, such as Al Gore's disgraceful speech in Jeddah, or the growing strength of the American economy, or even the troubling issue of Iran's decision to go forward with their uranium enrichment process -- defying the UN in a direct manner -- has the press chosen to obsess over a minor hunting accident? How obsessed is the MSM over this story? Here's an example for you:

NBCNEWS chief White House correspondent David Gregory warned President Bush's spokesman on Monday not to be a "jerk!"

The heated exchange came during a press gathering at the White House.

Gregory asked White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan about the Cheney hunting accident.

'David, hold on, the cameras aren't on right now,' McClellan replied. 'You can do this later.'

'Don't accuse me of trying to pose to the cameras,' Gregory said, voice rising. 'Don't be a jerk to me personally when I'm asking you a serious question.'

'You don't have to yell,' McClellan said.

'I will yell,'' said Gregory, pointing a finger at McCellan (sic) at his dais. 'If you want to use that podium to try to take shots at me personally, which I don't appreciate, then I will raise my voice, because that's wrong.'

'Calm down, Dave, calm down,' said McClellan.

'I'll calm down when I feel like calming down,' Gregory said. 'You answer the question.'

'I have answered the question,' said McClellan, who had maintained that the vice president's office was in charge of getting the information out and worked with the ranch owner to do that. 'I'm sorry you're getting all riled up about.'

'I am riled up,' Gregory said, 'because you're not answering the question.'"

Now, a heated exchange over Congress' new budget -- where deep cuts have been proposed -- would be completely understandable and likely even welcomed by many NBC viewers. But an argument over THIS? Worse is the fact that the MSM seems rankled that it took about a day before they were notified. To hear some tell the story, you would think they had found their new Watergate at last.

Yup! It's "Shotgun-Gate." You have to go with "Shotgun-gate" you know, because it kills two birds with one stone -- Sorry Mr. Vice President, I couldn't resist -- in that it embarrasses the Bush Administration AND takes a whack at gun ownership.

But all kidding aside, again I ask the question: WHY? Why does the MSM obsess on this kind of stuff?

I blame Bill Clinton!

Which I say partly tongue in cheek. But there is an undercurrent of truth in regards to the weird behavior seen in recent years from the MSM.

What weird behavior am I referring to? I refer to what seems to me to be an outright lust on the part of the MSM for scandal. Yes, we've had scandal rags for decades, even centuries now, but this scandal-lust has shifted it's focus in the past decade to politics and political figures.

And this is no minor matter when one considers that the combined might of the MSM, with an army of aggressive investigative journalists, is a formidable force for or against any issue it chooses to champion. So, why does the MSM want to unleash its might over a minor accident?

I guess it goes back to the two rules the MSM seems to follow quite religiously:

  1. Make money at all costs. This is, of course, the Capitalist imperative. This, at least, I can comprehend.
  2. Highlight the negative. Blood and scandal sells, and it's great when it hurts conservatives at the same time.

As you'll see, rule number 1 explains why the MSM will sometimes aggressively pursue someone like Bill Clinton and rule number 2 explains why we see constant news cycles, day-after-day, month-after-month, and year-after-year, highlighting anything that hurts Republicans in general and the Bush Administration in particular. But this doesn't give us the whole picture because, in my opinion, something significant happened during the Clinton presidency that has exacerbated this trend.

The fact is, the Internet isn't the only thing that boomed during Clinton's two terms in office; the media boomed as well. And this, in my opinion, was due in large part because of all the scandals which the Clinton Administration seemed to spawn across it's eight years in Washington. It's a pretty impressive list of major and minor scandals, almost all of which were followed obsessively by liberal and conservative audiences alike. Let me try and name just a few:

-Jennifer Flowers
-Paula Jones
-Juanita Broderick
-Kathleen Willey
-Monica Lewinsky

-Trashing of The White House

And this list is in no way exhaustive. Liberals in the media loved Bill Clinton, both for his liberal views and for his ability to get into just enough trouble to keep audiences focused on the media reports of his 'indiscretions' yet not enough trouble to get himself kicked out of office - though, it was close.

Furthermore, the Clinton Administration had more leaks in it than the Titanic. It was "all leaks, all the time." And the MSM fed off of those leaks, using them to titillate their audiences on a daily basis.

But when Bush came to the White House, most of that stopped. And when the leaks stopped, the media began to suffer the same kind of recession that had already begun to hit the dot coms. Media ad sales fell dramatically, leaks were almost non-existent, and President Bush kept his nose scrupulously clean.

Yes, the man who burst the media bubble was none other than George W Bush himself. And how do you think the MSM felt about THAT?

So, of course, the tone of the media regarding the new administration was to criticize the "wall of silence" that seemed to surround the Bush White House. The thinking from liberals in the media was, of course, "there must be something really sinister going on if they are unwilling to communicate with us."

Of course, the MSM has found ways to obtain leaks. Most of them seem to have come from administration critics -- Clinton appointees, Democrats who are government employees, even members of Congress -- to gain access to and to disseminate information they hope will damage the administration. Unfortunately, the MSM is SO obsessed with embarrassing and/or hurting the President, they have ignored the relentless damage they are doing to our national security. I think it can be reasonably argued that, in the past few years, the MSM has used its sources to reverse almost all the progress the Bush Administration has made in the war on terror, with the exception of the astounding progress that American troops have made in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Furthermore, when you look at investigations launched more because of media demands for one -- can you say 'Valerie Plame'? I knew you could! -- than out of any substantiate issue, it becomes quite clear that a good number of so-called scandals are media-generated.

And here is a key point... In the last decade, the MSM has moved from "Investigative Journalism" to "Adversarial Journalism."

Yes, I know, duhhhh! But the seeds of adversarial journalism were sewn during the Clinton presidency. Perhaps this is because the MSM was able to translate presidential scandal into greater ad sales and increased audience attention. The end result being that, by the time President Bush assumed office, the MSM's focus on political scandal was much more intense. Which led to an interesting problem for the MSM.

You can accuse President Bush of being many things, but titillating is NOT one of them. Where President Clinton seemed constantly embroiled in scandals related to his womanizing behavior, there has never been so much as a whisper of such a thing for President Bush.

In addition, while the Clinton Administration was an eight-year-long leak-fest, the Bush Administration is very tight-lipped, with very few leaks to the media. Is it any wonder then, that, if the scandal-lusting MSM couldn't find scandal in order to fulfill rules 1 & 2, they would seek to manufacture some? I think it makes perfect sense.

The "Mother-of-All-Ironies," however, is the fact that the scandal-addicted MSM which had a bounty of leaks during the Clinton presidency and never issued a single complaint about any of them, is now trying to parse leaks from the Bush Administration. Read and/or listen carefully to what most of the MSM is saying and what you'll hear is something along the lines of:

Top-secret leaks which we obtain -- regardless of whether they damage national security -- are good! Leaks which come voluntarily from the Bush Administration are bad.

Why? Because, of course, the Bush Administration is going to disseminate information to bolster it's case, where involuntary leaks are more likely to hurt the president. The MSM considers voluntary leaks from the Bush Administration to be attempts to "manipulate the press." Leaks which the press obtains on it's own, no matter their sensitivity, is simply the MSM "doing it's job." Or so we are told.

The rules were quite different during the Clinton Administration, of course. But, that too is in keeping with the MSM's unwritten rules.