Seriously, how long can the media last as a parody of themselves?
As many of you know, I usually don’t comment on current events, leaving it in the very capable hands of Moe, Warner, and the rest of you. But I am fascinated by the underlying forces that shape those events, especially when they come together to illustrate a greater truth.
WASHINGTON—More than a week after President Barack Obama’s cold-blooded killing of a local couple, members of the American news media admitted Tuesday that they were still trying to find the best angle for covering the gruesome crime.
“I know there’s a story in there somewhere,” said Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, referring to Obama’s home invasion and execution-style slaying of Jeff and Sue Finowicz on Apr. 8. “Right now though, it’s probably best to just sit back and wait for more information to come in. After all, the only thing we know for sure is that our president senselessly murdered two unsuspecting Americans without emotion or hesitation.”
Added Meacham, “It’s not so cut and dried.”
Since the killings took place, reporters across the country have struggled to come up with an appropriate take on the ruthless crime, with some wondering whether it warrants front-page coverage, and others questioning its relevance in a fast-changing media landscape.
“What exactly is the news hook here?” asked Rick Kaplan, executive producer of the CBS Evening News. “Is this an upbeat human-interest story about a ‘day in the life’ of a bloodthirsty president who likes to kill people? Or is it more of an examination of how Obama’s unusual upbringing in Hawaii helped to shape the way he would one day viciously butcher two helpless citizens in their own home?”
“Or maybe the story is just that murder is cool now,” Kaplan continued. “I don’t know. There are a million different angles on this one.”
Personally, I found this to be hilarious (maybe I just have a sick sense of humor), because is so perfectly captures the media’s unwillingness to actually do any critical reporting on Obama. While many of us have noticed the unwillingness of the likes of John Stewart to poke fun at Obama, they are now poking fun at the media and their unwillingness to actually behave like journalists.
This reminded me of a video I posted a few months back of Brent Bozell:
Brent has been predicting the old media’s demise for a long time now. But he also predicts that it is going to happen sooner rather than later. With his analysis in mind, consider the post that Michael Graham made (again h/t to Jonah) about the Boston Globe’s coverage of the tea parties.
When the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz reported that the Boston Globe-Democrat hadn’t run a single story on the national “Boston Tea Party” movement (key word: Boston), I’ll admit I was surprised. Their blatant political bias is obvious, and every rational reader knows their “news” coverage is driven by their politics. But not one story? From a journalistic standpoint, it’s utterly indefensible.
So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I picked up the BG-D this morning–the day after thousands of BOSTON-are citizens gathered at BOSTON Harbor for a BOSTON Tea Party to protest (in part) the taxpayer abuse by our BOSTON-based state government…and found a single local story in the BOSTON paper. Buried on page A16 there was a small AP story with the dateline “Frankfort, KY.”
I guess the Boston Globe-Democrat staff just couldn’t resist a “KY” reference…
To add ignorance to incompetence, the AP story spreads the canard that our Tea Party was part of some national Republican effort. They link it to FreedomWorks and the GOP–neither of whom had anything to do whatsoever with our event…though I’d be happy to send them the invoice for our expenses.
Here’s the Boston Globe-Democrat’s model for journalistic success:
- Ignore a national story inspired by local Boston history for as long as possible;
- Refuse to cover the story when it becomes local;
- Misreport the story with a wire report from Kentucky;
- Then wonder why you’re losing $1 million a week.
It is very easy to see a scenario where Boston will be without a local paper in 2010. And the actions of their editorial board are helping to hasten their rush toward oblivion. They have put their political ideology ahead of their paper’s interests and are surprised to find out that irrelevance is not a successful business model.
I’m not going to rehash the “reporting” of CNN’s Susan Roesgan, but I will point out that the Blogsphere coverage and views of the off camera altercation with the tea party attendees are approaching (if not surpassing) the actual CNN viewership of the incident in the first place. Look at the CNN ratings during March 2009:
Through Wednesday, Fox was averaging 2.73 million prime-time viewers in March. MSNBC had 1.16 million and CNN had 1.14 million. The March ratings period ends Friday, and it’s doubtful CNN will be able to overcome MSNBC.
Given how badly Fox is destroying CNN, is it any wonder that Susan Roesgan would launch into an on-air attack against ordinary citizens laced with conspiracy theories about their competition? Susan and the rest of the old media are working through shock as the underpinnings of their place in the world is shaken. Remember the five stages of grief:
- Denial and Isolation – At first, we tend to deny the loss has taken place, and may withdraw from our usual social contacts. This stage may last a few moments, or longer.
- Anger – The grieving person may then be furious at the person who inflicted the hurt (even if she’s dead), or at the world, for letting it happen. He may be angry with himself for letting the event take place, even if, realistically, nothing could have stopped it.
- Bargaining – Now the grieving person may make bargains with God, asking, “If I do this, will you take away the loss?”
- Depression – The person feels numb, although anger and sadness may remain underneath.
- Acceptance – This is when the anger, sadness and mourning have tapered off. The person simply accepts the reality of the loss.
The Boston Globe is in stage 1, Denial, while Susan Roesgan has progressed to stage 2, Anger. I will be fascinated to see if they can get to acceptance during the coming months.