Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Media

I'd been thinking about writing a post about the media for some time. I think I'd even explicitly mentioned it a while ago. Well, with the sharp contrast offered by the Newsweek story and the revelation of the identity of Deep Throat, it seems like the appropriate time to do it.

I'd personally rather have a media that was more vigorous and willing to make mistakes, so long as it also had a deep and honest accountability. I feel that a vigorous investigative press is much more important to our country than a press that's cowed and scared by claims of bias and undersourcing. Of course there should be standards for publishing stories, and I don't think anybody would argue that. But especially thrown into contrast with the Newsweek fiasco of a couple of weeks ago, the revelation of Deep Throat reminds us why anonymous sourcing is so important to that vigorous press.

There are stories that would not be told, comments that would not be made, information that would not be disclosed, if the provider of that information had to compromise his or her own identity in order to do it. Whatever you think of Nixon's presidential policies, he was committing crimes and he was held accountable for them. I cannot think of a realistic scenario where Nixon would have been held accountable if Felt had resigned and gone public with his accusations. His own personal biases would have been scrutinized, and a cover-up would have been much easier to perpetrate without a man on the inside.

In short, people may disagree with me like crazy, but I'd prefer to have a media that might get one story wrong out of a hundred, coupled with a high-profile retraction when the facts are straightened out, than a media that takes the likes of Tom DeLay and his cadre of wingnuts even remotely seriously.