Thursday, June 14, 2007

Tony Blair, Media Critic

What a shame that Tony Blair picked the same week as OJ Simpson (and Paris Hilton, for that matter) to lecture "the media" about its priorities. Dan Rather is now sounding almost sage-like as he decries the “dumbing down” and “tarting up” of his old network’s evening news broadcast — but it's a dead heat in the sore loser department.

The truth of the matter is that reporters and publishers these days are more restrained and more inclined to let facts get in the way of a good story than they were even a few generations ago. The age of yellow journalism -- when only newspapers mattered and they really were concentrated in the hands of a powerful few -- was replete with slash and burn and lies and pandering, with no transparency or empowered crowd to see right through it all.

We have short memories. We are led to believe the Internet has whipped a malleable public into lowering their standards of what is news when, in my mother’s day, there were dozens of cheap, cheesy rag mags “covering” Hollywood starlets. We are told by politicians who made decisions that cannot be defended outside of a long-evaporated context (which may never have even existed) that some of the reporting about them has been uncalled for.

Complaining is seldom a character-burnishing attribute when it comes from a member of the power elite. It doesn’t look earnest, just weak. When Edward R. Murrow complained “This might just do nobody any good” he was keeping his criticism in school.

Blair would have been wise to use his salutary at a Reuters Newsmaker Event to look within himself rather than at the indignities, real and imagined, he has endured.

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