Hogan's Alley

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Good Election News From Iraq Off The Scope Already

It was striking this morning that the morning news programs, in the little space they allow for hard news, featured the Times' story about the warrantless surveillance by the NSA in side the country. Putting aside for the moment that issue, it is incredible how quickly the media seem in dire need of another story that they can use to beat the Administration and how quickly they are ready to abandon any semblance of good news for the White House.

The timing of the Times' story is particularly revealing, I think. As they note, they sat on this story at the request of the White House.

The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.

What the Times doesn't say is whether today's printing of the report is exactly one year after the agreement to withhold the story. Is this just an unfortunate coincidence for the Administration or did some conscious or purely instinctive process at the Times lead them to decide to drop this story on the White House? Did their internal meters that measure reports containing positive news in general trigger the need for an antidote after the sickly sweet spin given to the election news from Iraq across the MSM?

I am not one of those who believe that this kind of press behavior is specifically directed against the current Administration only, or against Republicans in general. Rather, I think that this is the instinctual and intellectually justified perspective of the media on their role. Never again will we see the cheerleading by the press that was common during WWII or the worshipful reporting on the Kennedy Administration. In our post-Watergate world the ambitions of those in the press run toward finding the story that will bring down another President. Those who think this is purely an anti-Republican pursuit need only remember the constant drumbeat of scandal directed at President Clinton.

Since I don't believe there are any political holy men capable of leading the whole nation in one direction, I think we will never again see a time in America where we admire and respect our political leaders. The 24/7 news cycle, the need to constantly feed it, and reporters' and producers' dreams of fame and fortune assure a constant flow of reports of the emperor's lack of royal clothing.

I'm not sure this purely a good thing.