Sex vs. Spying
The media proves its liberal bias once again. Media Matters does an excellent job of doing actual research and presenting facts about the NSA story. What a concept.
On January 22, the day after The Washington Post first broke the Lewinsky story, the paper ran...a total of 11 articles, written by or using contributions from at least 20 reporters, and comprising 11,844 words dedicated to allegations that the president lied about a consensual relationship. The New York Times ran...a total of eight articles, written by at least eight reporters, comprising 9,044 words.
Now, here's what the Post did on December 17 -- the day after the initial disclosure of the Bush administration's use of the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct domestic surveillance that has been widely described as an illegal trampling of the Constitution. Three articles, eight reporters, 3,227 words -- and that's generously including the USA Patriot Act article in the tally.
And from the Times, which had broken the NSA story the day before: two articles, four reporters, 3,076 words.
We could go on and on with comparisons like these, and bring in other news organizations, but it should be clear by now that the nation's leading news organizations haven't given the NSA spying story anywhere near the coverage they gave the Clinton-Lewinsky matter. And, based on available evidence, they haven't dedicated nearly the resources to pursuing the NSA story that they dedicated to the Lewinsky story.
So, some questions for the Times, and the Post, and ABC, and CBS, and NBC, and CNN, and Time, and Newsweek, and other leading news organizations:
1)How many reporters, editors, and researchers did you assign to the Lewinsky story when it broke? How many remained assigned to that story one month later?
2)How many reporters, editors, and researchers did you assign to the NSA story when it broke? How many remained assigned to that story one month later?
3)How do you explain the disparity?
We assume many news organizations would respond by saying that they aren't devoting as much attention to the NSA matter because it hasn't captured the nation's attention the way the Lewinsky investigation did.
But that's a canard; as we demonstrated above, the Times and the Post ran a combined 19 articles totaling more than 20,000 words just a day after the Lewinsky story first broke -- long before they could have known whether the public was interested. If the story captured the nation's attention, it's because the media forced it down our throats. And if Americans aren't captivated by the NSA matter, it may be because the media aren't hyping it nearly as much as it has much lesser stories.
The Post's Howard Kurtz effectively -- if unintentionally -- illustrated this bizarre tendency by news organizations to pretend that they merely reflect what people are talking about rather than shaping the national conversation. In his January 18 online column, Kurtz responded to criticism by Media Matters for America and others that he gave unwarranted attention to ages-old, baseless right-wing attacks on Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) by writing an article recounting the attacks for the January 14 edition of the Post. Kurtz noted that the attacks are, indeed, old, but added they are now "getting national play."
But the attacks aren't "getting" national play -- Kurtz is giving them national play. Prior to his article, the only "play" the allegations were getting came in a hatchet job by the Brent Bozell-operated Cybercast News Service upon which Kurtz based his article.