To me there have been three defining moments in the fight against the incredible leftist bias of the old media. They are the Tailwind (Vietnam War, nerve gas) story by Peter Arnett, Rathergate, and the recent ACORN exposé. Looking at the past twenty years, media bias has revealed itself as blatantly one sided coverage and often, outright false stories. It has now morphed into the blackout of stories that challenge their leftist ideals and idols.
It is inconceivable that the ACORN sting could have been totally ignored by the old media without some sort of coordination. It was too hot a story. Likewise it is inconceivable that the Van Jones story could have gone unreported for the same reasons. The old media has egg on its face, but instead of conducting introspection, they minimize the stories and call them smear jobs.
The first defining moment in exposong media corruption was the Tailwind scandal (June 1998) that was perpetrated by CNN correspondent Peter Arnett, a hard anti-war leftist, who gained his reputation in the Vietnam War and the first Gulf War. His contention was, during an operation into Laos in 1970, sarin nerve gas was used to kill a group of US defectors. The story ran on CNN and in Time magazine and was strongly challenged by the Pentagon which determined the nerve gas claims were false.
CNN conducted its own after the fact investigation and found the story flawed. They publicly retracted it less than a month after it ran. Two producers were fired, one resigned and Peter Arnett stayed on until his contract expired a year and a half later, but never appeared on the air for CNN after the investigation.
Much of the internal pressure for a review came from the Time folks who had felt pressured into carrying the CNN produced story. It was a victory for openness and the few journalists at Time Warner with integrity.
Significance: Tailwind was the first major left wing agenda story that was publicly debunked and had consequences for the participants. Most of the prior journalism scandals were by writers falsifying stories to enhance their own reputations such as Janet Cooke - Washington Post, Stephen Glass - New Republic and Mike Barnicle - Boston Globe.
The second defining moment was Rathergate. Most are familiar with Rathergate, a story designed to damage George W. Bush during his 2004 reelection campaign. It ended as a victory for citizen journalists, an outcome totally unexpected by the media establishment. The old media gave the controversy scant attention. The NY Times covered this, the greatest American media scandal, as if New York based CBS News was in another country. They used primarily wire service copy and an occasional story by art critic Frank Rich.
The Washington Post used media critic Howard Kurtz and of all the networks, only ABC gave reasonable coverage. The rest ignored it. For over two weeks Dan Rather stood by his story, including the demonstrably false claim of an unbroken chain of custody of the Killian documents.
Finally CBS set up an independent review panel which declared the story shouldn’t have run. Dan Rather was pulled out of his anchor chair precisely 26 weeks after his phony report and then put out to pasture as a 60 Minutes correspondent for the remaining year on his contract. His contract wasn’t renewed.
Significance: Rathergate was the first time bloggers, exhibiting far more expertise than the network’s “fact checkers,” were able document the falsehoods of a major story and see the perpetrators suffer the consequences. They did it by giving the story legs in the established media and engendered a need by Viacom/CBS to clear its reputation.
Now come James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles, “twentysomething” college students whose conservative principles led them to conduct an audacious sting operation against ACORN. This organization has avoided scrutiny for years despite voter fraud allegations, intimidation of financial institutions and participating in race hustling. They are protected by a willing media and the Democrat establishment who want to see no evil.
Last year, during the Presidential campaign, the NY Times dragged its feet when they were handed incriminating evidence of the Obama campaign working with ACORN on a money laundering scheme to funnel contributions of maxed out Democrats back to the campaign. THey never ran the story. That’s how well protected the Democrats' surrogates are.
The result of O'Keefe's and Giles' efforts: 5 video tapes showing ACORN employees aiding and abetting underage prostitution, tax cheating, and attempting to aid in illegal immigration of underage prostitutes. The story burned up the internet, but for a week there was nothing from the old media. Charles Gibson of ABC News claimed to know nothing of the story and the vaunted Times had printed nothing by the time the Census Department severed its ties with ACORN and the Senate had voted to defund them. In 7 days of new media reporting (Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government blog and Fox/Glenn Beck), the world knew more about the corruption of ACORN than from years of old media reporting.
The significance of O’Keefe and Giles was their story and its influence reached the highest levels of government without any old media support. These amateur videographers did what no others had done, expose the corruption of ACORN through investigative journalism. And they revealed the utter corruption of the old media in their attempt to hide the story.
Congratulations James and Hannah.