Sunday, 4 July 2010

US press has turned into 'prim schoolmarms'

Andrew Sullivan gives the mainstream US press a hammering in the Sunday Times today questioning why major stories are being broken by the National Enquirer and Rolling Stone.
Sullivan writes: "There are many reasons for the sharp and seemingly unstoppable collapse of much of the mainstream media in America, but one seems to me to have been overlooked. Many US newspapers have simply become pale, quivering shadows of what they once were.
"Once, they aggressively scrutinised the powerful and exposed secrets, but they have — with some exceptions — become mouthpieces for the powerful, enablers of propaganda and prim schoolmarms when it comes to telling people what they want to know.
"Why, for example, did we have to find out from the National Enquirer the entire truth about the character of John Edwards, the former presidential candidate, when he was exposed as having an affair? Why did we have to rely on blogs to ask the question that every Google search revealed was the most common with respect to Elena Kagan, the Supreme Court nominee: is she a lesbian? Why did Al Gore’s encounter with a masseuse, which cannot have been irrelevant to the former vice-president’s surprising divorce, appear first in a tabloid?
"Why did it take a freelance reporter from Rolling Stone to expose the rifts and tensions among President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan team? Every leading newspaper has a Pentagon correspondent; this was a story that changed history; the reporting skills it required are not spectacular. Michael Hastings, a freelance, simply took advantage of a stop-over in Paris, close access and, yes, a notebook ... and wrote it up. Where was the rest of the press?"
  • The Sunday Times is now behind a paywall so no link.

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