Essay: So Much More Than Just the New York Times

Standard-free journalism on parade all day on NBC's Sunday

NewsBusters.org - Media Research Center
Forgotten But
Not Gone
It was another do-as-we-say, not-as-we-do day for the National Broadcast Company this past Sabbath.

Over the weekend NBC offered up their latest versions of Tim Russert's Meet the Press and the Chris Matthews Show -- the latter being political television's answer to Jerry Springer. In them we were treated to two more glittering examples of all that is wrong with the Jurassic Press.

That being the woeful lack of journalistic ethics demonstrated by those at the heights of the media mountain, and the utter shamelessness they and their colleagues exhibit upon their being outed as amoral hacks.

It would seem that Rather is not just a glutton for punishment, he is a gourmand.

One of the issues dominating the discourse was -- of course -- last Thursday's front page top-of-the-fold New York Times assault on John McCain. In which the Old Frayed Lady conveyed a pitifully underdone news story predicated on slapdash accounts from unreliable sources.

For analysis of such pseudo-journalism, Chris Matthews brought us an expert - HDTV (Huh?)'s Global Correspondent Dan Rather, deliverer of the all-time most pitifully underdone news story predicated on slapdash accounts from unreliable sources, the President George W. Bush Texas Air National Guard memo fiasco.

It would seem that Rather is not just a glutton for punishment, he is a gourmand. Except that he is still in the throes of his willful suspension of disbelief, and is defiantly awaiting proof that his Word documents were not produced on a 1973 Selectric.

On the Matthews Show, Rather called the Times reporters "outstanding journalists", and said of their story, "Serious business if the Times can turn up anymore. So far McCain has been successful in making the Times running the story and the timing of the running the issue. He's been successful so far. We'll see what the Times has and what they develop in the future. I do think this story has at least some legs. Right now, advantage McCain."

Back on September 15, 2004, when still clinging for dear life to gainful employment at CBS, Rather posited, "If you can't deny the information, then attack and seek to destroy the credibility of the messenger, the bearer of the information. And in this case, it's change the subject from the truth of the information to the truth of the documents."

Only in the alternative reality that is Dan Rather-Land can false documents be the source of truthful information.

In both of these instances, Rather is redefining "adversarial journalism." To mean anything the media can sling at someone -- substantiated or not -- is perfectly fair, and it is up the victim to dodge and parry the slanderous thrust of the ersatz story. Rather is in effect saying it is the responsibility of the guy on the sidewalk to get out of his car's way -- overlooking the fact that he and his media cohorts have long since run off the road.

What is disturbing is that Rather is still held in such high regard by the likes of Matthews. Why, one might ask Matthews and the rest of the solipsists of MSNBC, is Rather still considered so when he clearly demonstrates he has learned NOTHING from his own serially malevolent actions.

But he is by no means alone aboard the journalistic Get Out of Jail Free Express. For there is in place -- long in practice -- an operational media dictum - Being Liberal means never having to say you're sorry.

Actually two - Never let the facts get in the way of a good beating.

As for Meet the Press, and their discussion of the (silly) plagiarism charges levied against Barack Obama by Hillary Clinton, it was but a very small step above the Matthews-Rather debacle. Here Russert had as a panelist Doris Kearns Goodwin, liberal historian extraordinaire and indeed an expert witness on journalistic bootlegging.

I say "liberal" because she was an aide to President Lyndon Johnson, and the unofficial in-house keeper of records for the Clintons in the ‘90's, of whom she said "I'm always imagining these people are more liberal than they are because I want them to be."

I say journalistic bootlegger because in 2002 the Weekly Standard reported that Goodwin's hugely successful 1987 tome (later turned into a television mini-series) The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys was in large swaths lifted from other sources. Goodwin initially denied it, then as more and more details kept coming she eventually admitted to the New York Times (there they are again) that it was worse even than the Standard knew.

So she built a name -- and a career -- for herself based upon the comprehensive theft of the work of others. But please, Mr. Russert, do not let that stop you from having her on again and again -- to discuss amongst other things the very sin from which she herself so extravagantly profited.

So it was fascinating to hear her say on Meet the Press, in analyzing the Obama plagiarism charge, "I think when you give a line like that, people don't like it. ... (I)n some ways it's good for the party to have the best lines that everybody in that party comes up with, the best ideas and patterns, and eventually one person will be the nominee. Let them evolve into one another - mush them all together."

So according to Goodwin it is an idea free-for-all, with no one more eligible to authorship than anyone else. Again, this Obama situation is absurd, but for someone who was caught Red-handed "mush"-ing other people's ideas together into a very good living for herself to say this and keep a straight face is most impressive and highly illustrative.

Which is why, like Rather, like Russert (Democrats Mario Cuomo and Daniel Patrick Moynihan), like Matthews (Democrats Jimmy Carter and Tip O'Neill), Goodwin is just another shamed and shameless member of the Liberal-Media axis, talking and writing amongst themselves for their own amusement.

And far too often the American people's source of inaccurate information.