Joe Strupp, who I picked on yesterday for his staggering naivete, writes in E&P that the best excuse most newspaper editors can come up with for not dismissing the Not-So-Swift Boaters out of hand was that the big bad Internet held a gun to their heads and threatened to pull the trigger.
Alison Mitchell, deputy national editor for The New York Times, points to the changing media landscape and its impact on what newspapers choose to cover. “I’m not sure that in an era of no-cable television we would even have looked into it,” she said. Near the top of a front-page article on Tuesday, the Times’ referred to the “mostly unsubstantiated accusations” of Kerry’s swift boat critics.
Now Joe, who I yesterday might have implied was kind of behind the 8-ball on this one, does a pretty good job of conveying just how freaking absurd this argument is. And it is. Memo to the editors of the New York Times and the Washington Post: A web site I won’t name because it pisses me off has been implying for months that George W. Bush is undergoing treatment for major depression and is going off the deep end. George W. Bush has run his campaign for re-election on the issue that he’s basically able to be president, kind of, and this web site reports allegations that directly challenge that. Where’s the coverage? It’s on the Internet. C’mon. You don’t want to get beat, do you? You have no choice! Matt Drudge and his awesome powers of Internet sexiness are forcing your reluctant, lily-white hands!
Yeah. Another memo to editors everywhere. You set an agenda with what you choose to cover and, more importantly, choose not to cover. And there is no Journalism Bible with rules like Thou Shalt Cover This And Not That In Political Campaigns. Editors have been making names for themselves for years by sanctimoniously refusing to cover things they don’t like. Remember this? What about this?
Feel vaguely dirty about a story? Think you won’t respect yourself in the morning (though you’ll probably feel the need to tell everyone how little you respect yourself in E&P)? Don’t cover it. Yes, it is that simple. Close your eyes and hum when the Fox News theme song comes on, look at yourself with pride in the mirror in the morning and say, “I am better than that.” Or write your long expose about what slimy, cred-less, lying assholes these people are on the first day, not two weeks later, when an honorable man has been smeared because you were concerned about getting beat by Rush and redstate.com. Dicks.