Journalists who criticize the mainstream press in hopes of making it better do so in the belief that, as Bill Moyers once put it, “the quality of journalism and the quality of democracy are inseparable.” From that belief flows a corollary: Commentators and bloggers who attack the mainstream press malignly, carelessly, and, on commercial television and radio, profitably, degrade the democracy from which their shabby, fake journalism is also inseparable.
This is hardly a new insight, but now Eric Boehlert has given it a new lease on life with “Michelle Malkin’s credibility, R.I.P,” an exposé of “the right-wing warbloggers.”
The warbloggers and such long-time anti-journalists as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage and Glenn Beck (just hired by ABC News to be a “regular commentator” on “Good Morning, America”) are powerful influences on the electorate. So, at least implicitly, Boehlert’s article raises a question: Why haven’t the New York Times, the Washington Post and other mainstream news organizations done the kind of documented reporting about this crowd that he did?
Here’s the top of his piece, posted Jan. 8 on Media Matters:
It’s time for warbloggers to find a new conspiracy theory to promote because their most recent one, which involved accusing the Associated Press of manufacturing a source in Iraq and colluding with the insurgents, blew up in their faces. But don’t look for detailed corrections, let alone heartfelt apologies. Being a warblogger means not having to say you’re sorry.
I’ve written extensively about this controversy because I think it perfectly captures the right-wing warbloggers and their never-ending goal to undermine the press. Not with thoughtful, factual analysis – which is always welcome – but by feverishly trying to undercut news reports that might pose a problem for President Bush’s war in Iraq and by shifting attention onto the media. They want to simultaneously create confusion about facts, while undermining news consumers’ confidence in the mainstream news media.
Indeed, warbloggers want to have it both ways. They want to be seen as tenacious press critics, thoroughly scrutinizing the media’s work and doing democracy a favor. But in reality they can’t control their naked disdain for progressives, not to mention their consuming hatred of the “liberal media.” It’s a combination that routinely prompts them to launch dim-witted crusades built around flimsy, what-if conspiracy theories.