Blogs can be therapeutic for mainstream reporters, especially if their beat is politics. In this case I mean Will Bunch of The Philadelphia Daily News, who last month revealed that candidate Barack Obama, in 2008, lied when asked by Bunch what he would do regarding “allegations of torture and related crimes by the Bush administration.” Obama’s response was doubletalk — if crimes were committed, they should be investigated, blah blah. No investigations ever took place.
As Bunch noted in his blog, all presidents lie. The implicit, unanswered question is why don’t the mainstream media do a better job of publicizing their lies?
The answer is because the media have become an adjunct to the powers-that-be rather than an adversary. Reporters and editors, instead of admitting to timidity, defend their lack of aggressiveness by invoking objectivity. Too many of them pretend the “he said-she said” aspect of a story is all there is, when in fact it’s only the prelude to the story.
That’s why no mainstream papers have run stories about the president’s lie. If you asked an editor at a daily, he’d tell you the lie — Obama’s promise to look into the Bush administration’s possible complicity in war crimes — is fodder for an opinion piece but not a news story, even if the lie is documented. I’ll bet that’s what Bunch’s editor at the DN would tell him.
Obama’s lie should be front-page news – “Two years and still no torture probe” – not the stuff of blog posts. Maybe The New York Times or The Washington Post will showcase the torture issue in a midterm report on how many campaign promises Obama has broken. But don’t hold your breath.
If the mainstream media were serious about playing an adversarial role, it would follow a simple two-step formula regarding coverage of politicians’ promises: 1) Here is what so-and-so said. 2) Here is what so-and-so did.