William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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THE STANDARD OMISSION – AT 11:37 A.M. ET:  Have you noticed that, whenever a Democrat gets in trouble, the label "Democrat" is either omitted from the story or pushed so far down that you have to be a courageous and committed reader to get to it?  It happens all the time.  The most recent example involves Ray Nagin, famous for being the mayor of New Orleans during Katrina.  His botched handling of the storm's victims was attributed by the mainstream media to BUSH (!!!) and even CHENEY (!!!!).  

Now Nagin is in serious hot water.  But his party affiliation is still close to a state secret.  From NewsBusters:

At the Associated Press yesterday, Michael Kunzelman managed to write a 500-word story about the arraignment of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on bribery charges without once mentioning that Nagin is a Democrat.

That's probably not a "Name That Party" record for "Most Words Used in an AP Story about a Democratic Politician Tainted by Scandal and/or Corruption," but it's especially galling, given the mayor's culpability (along with then-Governor Kathleen Blanco) for failing to ensure that New Orleans was evacuated on a timely basis in anticipation of Hurricane Katrina, and given the national press's non-stop blaming of President George W. Bush for the death, destruction and mayhem which followed.

COMMENT:  The traditional reasoning behind freedom of the press is that the press acts as a watchdog, a barrier between citizens and government.  Historically, at least in the last century, the press has claimed to embrace that role, and it has often carried it out well.  In the last generation, though, more and more journalists seem to believe that their mission is not to report to the people what is actually happening, but to shape public judgment through news stories, to act as "change agents," a familiar leftist notion. 

The result has been a less-informed public, but one that increasingly distrusts the mainstream media.  A Pew poll reported that some 60% of Americans believe the press is biased. 

In former times the adage was, "Don't believe everything you read in the newspapers."  Now we can properly ask, "Can we believe most of what we read in the newspapers?"  The sad fact is that too many journalists don't really care what the answer is. 

February 23, 2013