Saturday, April 03, 2010

Why Reporters Don't Cover Anti-Obama Stories

Hong Kong

Commenter Grumpy Puppet has argued, off line, that the American press is hostile to President Obama and that this hostility comes naturally from the fact that a reporter who uncovers a scandal in the White House will receive fame and fortune.

But that's too simplistic a view of how journalism works.

A more nuanced view is found in this Glenn Greenwald post, where he describes the potentially lucrative scramble among White House reporters for access to Obama and his top aides. Only the few staffers at the top can provide the color and anecdotes that earn multi-million-dollar advances, and that information isn't going to reporters who are hard on the administration. So I expect the White House press corps -- already slobbering shih tzus in Obama's presence -- to be even more sycophantic.

BTW, there was an interesting tidbit in a recent NYT Public Editor column. Although 14 Times reporters covered aspects of the ACORN story, the story was described as "an orphan at the paper" by ombudsman Clark Hoyt. "Nobody owns it," Hoyt wrote.

If Grumpy Puppet were correct, several of the Times reporters would have jumped on the chance to lead the ACORN coverage. This was a story with a House angle, a Senate angle, an electioneering angle, a Chicago politics angle, a fundraising angle, an investigative reporting angle, a new media angle, a criminal law angle -- a way for a reporter to get her story in the paper almost every day for several weeks.

But no one wanted it. Not one of those 14 reporters stepped up and took the lead on a big national story.

I think the reason is obvious. The ACORN story was almost immediately construed by most journalists to be a "conservative" story, and no one wanted the social stigma of advancing it. A reporter who was perceived as legitimizing and advancing the anti-ACORN case would start to have a faint odor, one part Republican shill and one part Judith Miller.

It's just not cool to report certain stories, and those stories have a habit of being the ones that make Obama or his allies look bad.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given the media's behavior during the election -- i.e. using the kid gloves on BHO -- they are partly liable for his gaffes. But not for Biden's; he's on his own, even though his baffling selection was one of BHO's first major decisions. Thusly, nobody really wants to uncover dirt on this administration (just THAT one) so long as there's the off chance that they can be invited to play some hoops with the President. Wait until 2012. If he's looking like a loser, the long knives will come out in force.

11:29 PM  
Blogger warren said...

Yeah, except there wasn't anything to the "Acorn Scandal". See the California AG's report on the whole thing.

11:49 AM  

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