Those of us seeking truth in reporting, especially the inconvenient truths about a Democratic presidential administration, are re-learning the lessons of the Clinton Era:
- First, that the "newspapers of record," the Associated Press, and the major TV networks (except Fox) are usually the last places you want to go to learn what's really going on, and the first place to visit if you want a rendition of the Democratic-left wing party line.
- Second, that some of the best reporting and fact-checking can be found in editorials at the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily.
- Third, that the many of the British papers will dig up and expose administration-embarrassing news most of America's newsprint apparatchiks will bury if they find them, and ignore if they can.
In 2009, there is a fourth lesson, which is that much of the investigative reporting vacuum created by the establishment media is being filled by the center-right blogosphere.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is very upset that Lesson Three is again in force, and made his displeasure known (HT Politico) in reaction to a UK Telegraph report alleging that photos from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq "include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse":
"That news organization has completely mischaracterized the images," Whitman had said. "None of the photos in question depict the images that are described in that article."
Gibbs also cautioned reporters against the reliability of the British press. "I want to speak generally about some of reports I've witnessed over the past few years in the British media and in some ways I'm surprised it filtered down," Gibbs said.
"Let's just say that if I wanted to look up, if I wanted to read a writeup today of how Manchester United fared last night in the Champions League Cup, I might open up a British newspaper," he continued.
"If I was looking for something that bordered on truthful news, I'm not sure that would be the first stack of clips I picked up."
In the Telegraph story, Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who conducted an investigation of the treatment of detainees at Iraq's American-run Abu Ghraib prison, is quoted as saying, "These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency" and supporting the president's decision not to release them.
Gibbs didn't have to go anywhere near as far as he did to swat down the story. He was so comprehensive in his response that it makes you wonder if vast right-wing media conspiracy theories are beginning to take hold in another Democratic White House.
In January 1997, as described at the time by Rupert Cromwell at the UK Independent World, the Clinton administration released a hysterical 331-page report "purporting to show how allegations of White House skulduggery and scandal find their way from obscure thinktanks to the mainstream media." The conspiracy mongers believe that the think tanks "feed their fantasies through British tabloids and conservative United States papers to the New York Times and the Washington Post."
This report from January 1997 says that "The White House singled out Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of The Sunday Telegraph as a participant in what it said was a well-organised 'media food chain' of events."
Yeah, and as you recall, it worked so well during impeachment (/sarcasm).
So how long will it be before Gibbs and Company resurrect the vast right-wing conspiracy -- and throw center-right bloggers into a new variant of their paranoid mix?
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.