The Party's Over
James Taranto: The Party's Over
|Over on MSNBC.com, Newsweek's Howard Fineman weighs in on the CBS scandal with a provocative piece arguing that for decades the "mainstream" media have in effect been a political party--the AMMP, or American Mainstream Media Party, as he infelicitously dubs it. "The notion of a neutral, non-partisan mainstream press," he argues, is "pretty much dead, at least as the public sees things." And it's been a long time in going:
The broadcast in which Cronkite declared America "mired in stalemate" and urged withdrawal from Vietnam aired on Feb. 27, 1968. In November of that year, Democrats began an almost unbroken string of electoral losses, including seven of the past 10 presidential elections.
If you accept Fineman's thesis, then the 2004 election was also a repudiation of the AMMP. As an erstwhile antiwar activist who never renounced his "war crimes" calumnies, Kerry was the perfect candidate of the partisan media. No wonder CBS and others tried to puff up Kerry as a "war hero" while obsessing over supposed deficiencies in President Bush's National Guard record.
The New York Sun's Seth Lipsky calls the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth "the flip side of the tarnished coin of CBS":
If the downfall of CBS and the voters' rejection of Kerry are the denouement of the Vietnam War, it couldn't have come a moment too soon. For many in the media have been working feverishly to discredit another war--a war that, unlike Vietnam, America cannot afford to lose.
CBS, though, still seems to be in denial about the whole thing. Here's an astonishing quote from the Baltimore Sun:
Lipsky writes that he is not "terribly troubled by the prospect of bias at one, or even several, of the big networks or newspapers":
We're not sure we agree with Fineman's conclusion that the idea of a nonpartisan press is "pretty much dead." But if CBS won't acknowledge its bias even in such a clear-cut case, it's hard to see how that network can ever restore its credibility as a neutral source of news--or why anyone should bother to watch, especially with so many alternatives available. We wouldn't be surprised if sometime in the next decade the network decides to put its news division out of business altogether.