March 6, 2005

Frank's Eulogy for the MSM

Frank Rich, our favorite whipping boy (it's nasty work, but someone has to do it), has come up with a typically snarky, but if analyzed, refreshingly candid take on the news media.

The conceit of the piece is a eulogy of sorts for the late Hunter S. Thompson, self-proclaimed "gonzo" journalist and professional character. Frank allows as how HST originated a revival of the type of journalism in which the reporter's personality and experience of the story become part of the piece. The first person is joined with the third person. Frank's appreciation of HST is by way of comparison to what he sees as an inbred and timid in-group of mainstream print and network journalists whose behavior is herd-like and timid.

Frank does not attempt to defend Dan Rather/CBS's fake document story, acknowledging its shabbiness, but soon segues into the Jeff Gannon story, lamenting the fact that it has disappeared from sight, and attributing that to the laziness and timidity of most reporters. In fact, aside from the strange journey of Mr. Guckert/Gannon himself, it's not much of a story. A reporter for a Republican website throws the Press Secretary and the President some softball questions. Oh the horror!

Rich, letting his leftism overcome his usual obsession with gay martyrdom, discounts the gay-bashing aspect of the coverage of the Gannon story because some of the center-right comments on this aspect of the story strike him as insincere.

What Rich doesn't discuss, of course, is the charge, well-supported in my opinion, that MSM journalism is not merely timid and in-groupy, but the in-group tends sharply to the liberal side of the political spectrum, whose norm is increasingly similar to the anti-Bush crazy left. To me, that's pretty well established, and Rich doesn't address it. Nor does he address the sad decline of his own newspaper.

But we can't demand too much of the man. That he's acknowledged the increasing timidity and irrelevance of the MSM, and the shameful conduct of CBS in the fake documents matter is to his credit.

So award the credit when it's due, and here's my bet: Frank will descend into foaming-at-the-mouth moonbattery within two weeks.

We need some themes in this blog. I'm confident neither Polynesia, Harvard, nor Mr. Insufferable will disappoint us.

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