Cheney Story Reveals the Worst Instincts of the Media

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The Cheney shooting story has gotten out of control. I’m not one to bash the mainstream media as I think most newsmen and women do an admirable job in what is a tough career, but this is ridiculous. So it took 18 hours for the White House to tell the press corps about the shooting? It’s not like Cheney himself was shot. The event had nothing to do with the running of the country. It’s not a big story.

But that isn’t stopping the media from hyperventilating. And I think that’s because this story provides such rich soil for allegory�which is always more fun than merely reporting the facts. The reporters and news editors may claim their reaction is purely an objective search for the truth. But the political commentators reveal what’s really going on in the mind of the media.

David Ignatius says the shooting demonstrates the White House’s arrogance of power. Michael Duffy thinks it reveals how horribly cut off Cheney is from us real people. While Joe Conason sees the incident as another sign of this administration’s great incompetence.

But wait, it’s not just administration critics that are getting into the game. Administration boosters are also playing. But they’re portraying this as evidence of the American media’s dangerous liberalism. Tony Blankley and Michelle Malkin have written nearly identical commentaries claming the media are populated with careerist liberal hacks and are ignorantly unconcerned with the radical Muslim danger.

Here’s what I think. I think if administration critics want to blast this administration, there are plenty of real and substantive reasons to do so without resorting to pointless allegory. As for the likes of Blankley and Malkin, I think most of us would be a lot more inclined to listen to your critiques of the media if you yourselves weren’t so blindly and unceasingly partisan.

An event like this really makes me wonder what the face of American media will look like in 10 years. It’s as if the entire corps of professional journalists have decided to behave like bloggers, erupting in spasms over a titillating but generally meaningless event. Makes you wonder if we need to put objectivity on life support.

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