Monday, September 28, 2009


Steve Benen doesn't agree with the decision by The New York Times to "assign an editor to monitor [right-wing] opinion media and brief [top editors] frequently on bubbling controversies." Steve writes:

... part of responsible journalism is separating fact from fiction, identifying which stories have genuine value, and which don't. Allowing Fox News and talk radio to become assignment editors for major, legitimate news organizations is backwards -- the vast majority of the time they're pursuing obvious nonsense.

I'm repeating points I've made in the past, but I've always felt that the responsibility to separate fact from fiction is precisely why legitimate news organizations should be pursuing stories that are making noise in Wingnuttia -- otherwise, the only people talking about whether, say, there's something sinister about Obama's "czars" or whether there's "Chicago-style" suppression of stories about critics of the Windy City's Olympics bid are the wingnuts themselves.

These stories don't die from lack of oxygen -- they get plenty of hot air from the right-wing media. Wingnuts discuss them with swing voters at the proverbial backyard barbecues -- and if non-wingnuts don't have the answers, part of the reason is that they're not getting the truth about these specific stories from responsible media outlets.

Hell, it's not just some swing voters in Indiana. Jay Leno had Rush Limbaugh on TV last week and Limbaugh went on and on about how George W. Bush valiantly tried to rein in mortgage excesses, but bad loans were made because Democrats and ACORN wanted them to be made. (See the video below, about 4:15 in.) And Leno didn't have a rebuttal. (He didn't have rebuttals to much of what Limbaugh said, beyond vague New Dealish platitudes.)

The wingnut-rebutting truth is out there on the mortgage mess (The New York Times, for instance, has done some good work on how it happened, and This American Life fans got an updated rerun of the quite splendid award-winning story "The Giant Pool of Money" over the weekend, which was full of money-hungry boiler-room cowboys and others of that ilk who didn't give a rat's patootie about ACORN) -- but the noise-making ability of the right-wing media machine means a serious, sustained response to wingnut mythmaking is not only appropriate, but absolutely necessary.


(And yes, I realize I'm making a big leap of faith when I assume that non-wingnut news outlets will rebut rather than echo wingnut memes. And I also realize that the only acceptable opinion on this subject is the opposite of mine.)

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