The land of make believe where creatures of myth flourish – unicorns, ogres, dragons and fair journalists.
Well, one of those seems mythical anyhow.
Unicorns, ogres and dragons you can find aplenty on the network news shows. Fair journalists and the stories they should be covering, not so much. There in the land of myth stand stories like the New Black Panther Party, Van Jones, ACORN, Climate Gate and more. Journalists don’t cover them because, like mythical creatures, they don’t believe in them.
What “The Office” star Rainn Wilson described to ABC as “the land of candy and unicorns” is a place journalists know how to find fairly often. The truth is, you’re nine times more likely to encounter a majestic unicorn than the New Black Panther Party there.
In legend, you have to be pure of heart to touch a unicorn, but somehow journalists managed that nine separate times in the past year. The ugly, intimidating racism of the New Black Panther Party got just one broadcast network mention and that was brought up by a guest.
When former CBS anchor Bob Schieffer was asked why he hadn’t asked Attorney Gen. Eric Holder about the Obama administration dropping the New Black Panther case, his response was that he didn’t know about it. Schieffer told Howard Kurtz on CNN's “Reliable Sources,” “had I known about that, I would have asked the question.” Only he didn’t. He “was on vacation that week. This happened – apparently, it got very little publicity. And, you know, I just didn't know about it.”
Too bad no one at CBS ever watches Fox News. Kudos for taking the blame, but is downsizing in the news business that bad that only one guy has a TV? Maybe so. The Washington Post had similar problems and was called out for them by ombudsman Andy Alexander. “For months, readers have contacted the ombudsman wondering why The Post hasn't been covering the case,” he wrote.
No one listened to those awful reader people. That readers matter is just another myth. “The Post didn't cover it. Indeed, until Thursday's [July 15] story, The Post had written no news stories about the controversy this year. In 2009, there were passing references to it in only three stories,” Alexander explained. Other editors agreed, but only after the fact.
There’s more than one myth and not all of them are about wholesome creatures like unicorns. The Big, Bad creeps in now and again. Enter the big green threat that likes nature and not much civilization. That’s the one NBC’s Meredith Vieira called “everyone’s favorite ogre.” Hint, he’s green.
If you guessed former green jobs czar Van Jones, you’d be wrong. The networks said almost nothing about the problems surrounding the controversial 9/11 truther who once had a nifty gig in the Obama administration.
Prior to his sneaky Saturday night resignation, there had been only one story about him on ABC, CBS and NBC combined. Actual ogres, on the other hand, appeared eight times in the past year. Led by Mike Myers as “Shrek,” this category of myth relied on the media knowing what else was going on in society.
In other words, journalists read, watched TV or went to the movies. Or maybe just listened to their kids about the big news. They sure don’t listen to conservatives the same way. Over at The New York Times, the conservative movement was up in arms about Jones, but written off for their flights of fantasy. The Times waited until the day after Van Jones resigned to tell its readers the first thing about the controversy. Even then, editors buried it on page A17, where they hide the things they don’t want even the most adventurous to discover.
Maybe next time, they will place a dragon on guard to keep readers from hearing some of that “truth” the Times is so all fired up about fitting in the paper.
Why not? The media have dragons enough to keep Harry Potter stocked with brimstone. On ABC, CBS and NBC, you had girls with dragon tattoos, Puff the Magic Dragon and even stories on “How to Train Your Dragon.” According to Nexis, the networks talked about dragons 75 times during the past year.
When a real man and woman went out to slay one, the media missed it. Sure, the heroes of that story were dressed in sleazier fashion than good old St. George. But the dragon called ACORN was still a mighty monster and James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles proved video is now the preferred weapon of dragon slayers. The Times, according to Jill Abramson, the managing editor for news, was “slow off the mark.” Reason? They have “insufficient tuned-in-ness to the issues that are dominating Fox News and talk radio” and appointed some poor editor to monitor those strange creatures in the conservative movement.
It’s an old story, but the explanations are the same. “We are not of your world,” journalists whine as they miss the news of the day. The elusive concerns of God, country, Constitution and family are too unusual, too much like fairy tales for modern journalists to acknowledge.
But the real fantasy lies in the repeated media promises to change.
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. His pieces appear frequently in The Fox Forum. He can also be contacted on FaceBook and Twitter as dangainor.
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