17 September 2004
Keeping Washington out of Rathergate
There has been some call for a Congressional investigation into CBS News practices in the wake of the network's recent, um, malfeasance. Patterico explains why this is a bad idea:
There are few things that the government does better than the marketplace. I don't think that policing the media is, or should be, one of them. I think that governmental involvement in such matters is fundamentally inconsistent with the ideals of the First Amendment, which is designed to keep government out of the media's hair.
Also, I think that the power of the internet is developing an increasingly effective mechanism for the redress of grievances against the mainstream media, as the CBS documents scandal has demonstrated.
While CBS has the freedom of the press to air nearly any damn thing it wants, there is no requirement that anyone else accept them as an objective news agency. I may be wrong, but I doubt al Jazeera or the Weekly World News has a seat in the White House pressroom, Air Force One, or rotates onto the occasional press pool. So, a humble suggestion:
Kick them out until they apologize!
No questions at the press conference, no phone calls returned, no contact of any kind with the Administration. Freeze them out. Treat them as the pariahs they are. Their freedom to publish does not extend to anyone's duty to co-operate.
Better yet, give their spot in the pool to the Weekly World News.
Actually, this will look like a spate of spite on the part of the White House, and for the moment, I think it's probably more useful for the Bush administration to keep them around, just to ward off the inevitable Kerrying-on from the Democrats. Still, the larger point here is that Big Media are accustomed to thinking of themselves as being owed a certain level of deference, and putting a few creases in this belief might be worth it in the long run.
Of course, should it turn out that there's an actual conspiracy, in the legal sense, behind the machinations at CBS News then bring on the investigators, and let the chips fall.Posted at 3:11 PM to Political Science Fiction