|December 30, 2009|
|Press Lambasted by Kurtz of Wash. Post|
|By Jack O'Dwyer|
|Media columnist Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post, reviewing media news of the past decade, said credibility in the media took a sharp dive south as reporting failed in the crucial tests of the Iraq war and housing bubble. |
He called these “the two biggest disasters of early-21st century press coverage.”
Media “failed to challenge the Bush Administration’s case for invading Iraq” and after “cheerleading” the tech bubble “fell way short on the housing and lending bubble,” he said.
“Sky-high expectations” were fostered for President Obama “which inevitably crashed into the messy reality of governing,” he noted.
Major media boo-boos included the “breathtaking fabrications of Jayson Blair at the New York Times and Jack Kelley at USA Today.”
Media bias was revealed in the “prime time parade of Republican lawmakers and commentators on Fox” while Democratic lawmakers had MSNBC as their turf.
What Kurtz does like is the “huge storehouses of knowledge that are available at the click of a mouse” and “striking observations about the news, zingers in ongoing debates, and perhaps a funny line or two” via Twitter, Facebook and other places in Blogville.
Media, he notes, must figure out “how to get people to pay for what we produce rather than Googling it for free.”
Frank Sees “Low, Dishonest Decade”
Tricking the public was a major occupation of both the government and business in the past ten years, argued Wall Street Journalist columnist Thomas Frank on Dec. 23.
“Ensuring that the public failed to get it,” he wrote, “was the common theme of at least three of the decade’s signature foul-ups: the hyping of tech stocks by Wall Street analysts; the accounting scandals of 2002, and the triple-A ratings given to mortgage-backed securities.”
“Regulators were sabotaged and their agencies turned over to the regulated,” said Frank, arguing that “the press and politicians were asleep at the switch.”
He singled out Citibank’s “long struggle against the Glass-Steagall Act” whose erasure paved the way for the banks’ financial crisis.
Glass-Steagall was overturned in 1999 at a cost of $300 million in lobbying fees, economist Joseph Stiglitz has estimated.
“The problem was not so much that newspapers were dying,” he said, “but that they failed to do their job in the first place, to scrutinize the myths in a way that might have prevented the catastrophes like the financial crisis or the Iraq war.”
He fears banks are being “bailed out” while not being subjected to new oversight and that the healthcare bill in the works “seems to guarantee private insurers eternal profits.”
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