Big 3 TV Ignores Climategate
By Staff News & Analysis - December 05, 2009

For the fourteenth straight day, the three broadcast networks have failed to report on the great and growing ClimateGate scandal on their weekday morning or evening news programs. How to explain this? Perhaps it is that ABC, NBC and CBS have not yet heard of the story, despite two weeks of non-stop reporting on and discussion of ClimateGate in a whole host of media outlets. Perhaps the broadcast networks only trust their fellow liberal press outlets, like the New York Times. Perhaps they don't realize the Times exhibited journalistic diligence on ClimateGate, with a front page story the day the story broke. In the event that ABC News, NBC News and CBS News missed the news, the Media Research Center (MRC) is today rushing each of them a copy of the Times story, in the hopes that armed with this new information, they will finally report a story that has been roiling nearly everywhere else for a fortnight. So as not to offend the networks' pro-global warming sensibilities, MRC President Brent Bozell is looking to have the stories delivered by bicycle messenger. – MRC

Dominant Social Theme: Don't look now! …

Free-Market Analysis: Wow, we didn't realize this was the case. We don't watch that much TV, especially American television, because we just can't stand it anymore. But sometimes you miss things, and this was one of them. We didn't realize that there hadn't been any formal reports on the Climategate controversy on American TV. Now, perhaps there have been reports on various talkshows, etc., but MRC claims that the major networks have not formally gone about covering the story. Incredible!

We have pointed out in the past that a major way of killing true reporting is to ignore it. This is much different than heavy-handed USSR tactics of "making up" news. The Western way has always been more subtle, at least in the 20th century. Not so sure about the 21st because of the Internet. But we watched how the powers-that-be carefully controlled news in the 20th century.

First, reporting was made into a graduate school degree. Second, the major media tended to hire from the graduate schools, and this was exceptionally effective when it came to larger issues of finance and politics. Those who graduated from these schools, especially with high marks, were already entirely conditioned. If you were a major media player with a specific conversational gambit, you didn't have to worry. Just like buying a car from a major producer – you kind of knew what you were getting.

But this wasn't enough, we saw. In the late 20th century, especially in America, which has always pioneered reporting as a good many other things, there was an effort to do away with sourcing. Lawyer Steven Brill, with shadowy funding (from our point of view), attempted to set up a quarterly magazine discussing journalistic "ethics" in general. One of Brill's big issues was that reporters not use "unnamed" sources. It went on for several years, article after article, reporter after reporter beating his or her breast about the sin and mortification of using unnamed sources, and Brill pontificating about the morality involved and how using unnamed sources should be grounds for dismissal.

Fortunately Brill went bankrupt – as regards the magazine anyway – and the movement to report without using the only kind of good source there is (an anonymous one) gradually faded away. (We're sure it will return sooner or later.) More pernicious and still attracting adherents is the whole idea that journalism should be "detached" and even-handed.

We've run several analyses on this issue, showing that journalism was always polemical, both in Britain and America, until well after the Civil War when a number of social standards shifted. We don't believe these changes were for the good, certainly they weren't sensible and in many cases we think they were inspired by determined manipulations that were intended to make news less incisive, less focused and generally less reliable.

After Thoughts

And what do we have today, after more than a century of news "improvement?" After 100 years of turning news gathering into a profession, of setting the "highest standards," of ensuring as much as humanly possible that all forms of bias were excommunicated from the news rooms? … Why we have America's major networks NOT COVERING THE SCIENTIFIC STORY OF THE DECADE FOR A FULL TWO WEEKS AFTER THE FIRST REPORTS. Kind of makes you wonder where all the improvement's gone, huh? Unless it's on purpose … Ya think?

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