Saturday, January 5, 2008

Cry the beloved profession, redux

If there is anything the doyens of the American mass media more fiercely resent than the encroachment of bloggers and Internet news outlets on what has long been their turf, it is the extent to which their status as gatekeepers of the news has been undermined by the same. And from time to time, they get vocal about it -- as did the putative "dean of the White House press corps," Helen Thomas, Jan. 4 at a National Press Club roundtable discussion. "What I really worry about," the 87-year-old columnist for Hearst Newspapers fretted, "is that I think the bloggers and everyone, everyone with a laptop thinks they're journalists. And they certainly don't have our standards. They don't have our ethics, and so forth."

To appreciate how spurious Thomas's tut-tutting really is, recall that in February of 2006, when the Danish Muhammad caricatures were central to the ongoing story of how embassies were being burned, innocents were being killed, and Muslim demonstrators worldwide were bearing signs with slogans like "Free expression is Western terrorism," "Our religion does not allow unconditional freedom of speech" and "A Muslim's faith is above Western values," the editors of only three major American papers (the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Austin American-Statesman and the Rocky Mountain News) had the integrity to push back, assert their rights, and print any of the cartoons along with their coverage of the uproar. The rest demurred, spouting weasel words about "taste," "respect" and "responsibility." Had it not been for the bloggers, few Americans would have seen the cartoons and been able to judge for themselves whether the intense Muslim wrath was justified. "The people's right to know," it's called -- and the mainstream American mass media did their damnedest to abrogate it.

And this garrolous gorgon dares prattle about the loftiness of their "standards" and "ethics"? Give me a break.

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin.

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