Monday, May 21, 2007

NO MEDIA CONSPIRACY

As noted in an earlier post, there are those who believe the scandal involving the firing of several U.S. attorneys deserves much more coverage, and that the lack of coverage means Something Sinister.

Such grousing reminds us of another current "media conspiracy," this one involving a double slaying in Knoxville, Tenn. The victims were white and the five suspects are black; this is enough to cause some to claim the media won't cover a case involving white victims and black attackers. We faintly remember a murder trial involving black-on-white crime; apparently we hallucinated the whole thing.

But back to the U.S. attorneys scandal. The idea of a media cover-up of the story is ridiculous. Mainstream newspapers are pounding out thousands of column inches of text and airing dozens of reports; McClatchy has been the undisputed leader in print reports on the upheaval.

In Blogistan, there is even more coverage:

•Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo is the invaluable reference guide.

Brad Blog has gotten notice for its reports on Missouri angles to the story.

•Randy @ The Turner Report has also been keeping track.

Why no posts from CHATTER, until now?

Mostly because this is a story that requires absolute focus. CHATTER's chief typist used to be an investigative reporter; sometimes that meant weeks, even months, fixated on one story. The U.S. attorneys scandal -- the firings, the cover-ups, the apparent lies to Congress by administration officials -- deserves more than one blog opining on What It All Means, especially when the blog isn't devoting hours of reporting to the story (that's where Marshall's TPM comes in).

The Missouri angle? The absence of local coverage is harder to justify. The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri is in charge of Springfield. That makes it a local story; it's hard for the News-Leader to claim otherwise.

Local TV outlets can argue, with some credibility, that the story isn't very visual; you can only show so much old footage of the federal courthouse in Springfield, and most of the story is thick with detail and hard to distill into a nut graf.

But that doesn't mean the local media shouldn't try its hand at covering the story. We think they'll probably pop up with something on June 5, when former Western District USAs Todd Graves and Brad Schlozman testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Graves claims he was ousted; Schlozman, as his replacement, pushed seemingly bogus voter fraud cases against liberals.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Where were you an investigative reporter. Just curious. Why did you quit doing it? We need it more today than ever, IMHO.

RON DAVIS said...

A lifetime ago -- specifically, the mid- to late-1980s. I quit doing it to become a features editor.

Agreed, the country needs more investigative reporters. But newsrooms across America have largely stopped funding such ventures. Investigative reporters spend money. They don't contribute to the bottom line.

Busplunge said...

"I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down." — Radical Right strategist Paul Weyrich, at a 1980 training session for 15,000 conservative preachers in Dallas.

They are still following the same play book. Except instead of jackleg preachers calling the plays, the Justice Department is.

Anonymous said...

I will remind readers that in 1987, Ron Davis won the National Edward R Murrow Award for investigative reporting from the Radio and Television News Directors Association. It was the first Murrow awarded to a Springfield radio station.
Since then there is still only one radio station in Springfield with any Murrow awards. KSMU now has 9 of them on its walls.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mrs. Davis, er, Mr. Smith.

Anonymous said...

You're welcome. And Make that 10.