Last week, CJR’s own Liz Cox Barrett got all up in the face of the AP’s Ron Fournier, arguing that by writing his piece deploring political attacks that relied on false information, he helped to disseminate—and legitimize—that very information. Barrett agreed with Fournier’s assertion that, “A political attack doesn’t need to be right to work…” adding that, “No, but one thing a political attack does need to work—whether it’s right or wrong—is for reporters to give it a thorough airing, to ensure that it gets proper traction with voters.”
I was reminded of this argument on Sunday while reading Michael Powell of The New York Times bemoaning a contemporary media environment where:
Too Much Information is a concept rarely honored in modern presidential politics. In a YouTube, cellphone photo, I’m-posting-it-on-the-Web world, no secret is safe, no taboo assumed, no limit observed.
In other words, Powell is complaining that reporters write about the various irrelevant personal issues that candidates have started sharing with voters—morning breath, leaving socks around the house, etc.—while reporting on those same issues himself.
Talking Points Memo’s Steve Benen had a similar reaction to the piece yesterday afternoon, writing that:
Given that the NYT has run lengthy reports on Hillary Clinton’s cleavage and John Edwards’ hair, are we to assume that today’s piece is something of a mea culpa? That trivial revelations about candidates’ personal lives won’t get lengthy treatments from the paper anymore?
I’m not going to hold my breath.