Accountability. What a strange and powerful word.
In the run-up to the War in Iraq, the media failed, and failed spectacularly. Even those within the halls of the news business pronounced that they were too credulous of the things they were told by Administration officials. And yet the profile of those who supported the war has never slipped. Apparently being wrong on the biggest question of the millenium is a badge of honour and the mark of a trustworthy voice.
This all occured despite widespread opposition. Those against the war were not just peace and love hippies, but included people as far from the left-wing liberal activist circles as Brent Snowcroft. And yet every media outlet in the land continued to bang the drum for war with front page above the fold stories that were little more than White House press releases.
But that was all in the past, and now is the time to look to the future. Has the media learned from its mistakes? Yes - it has learned that when called on errors, it should strike back as hard as possible. It has learned that the old ways of "he said - she said" journalism are going to be criticized - and it has learned a new response to that criticsm: "Our readers are sophisticated enough to know better".
The same readers who believe Obama is the Anti-Christ. These readers.
"Both sides do it". The call of the false-equivalence throated media apologist. Their song is about how as objective journalists, they can't be seen as taking sides. Even if one of the sides is blatantly lying.
Richard Stengel, Managing Editor for TIME states the ridiculousness of the notion:
"One of our jobs as journalists is to be the referee, the honest broker who sorts through the accusations and says, This is fact, and this is fantasy."
Ironically, he does this to introduce the most blatantly ridiculous piece of false-equivalence "journalism" printed since Deborah Howell was Ombudsman of the Washington Post.
Indeed, the media has decided that best defense is a good offense - so they are attempting to be as offensive as possible. The strategy is never admitting errors and accusing your opponents of any slur and slander you can find until one sticks, a lesson that they learned in eight years of covering the Bush Administration.
Accountability. What a strange and powerful word. I wonder what it means.