I’m back in action today, after a long weekend spent (finally) getting my family moved and settled in our new house. Apologies for the sparse blogging over those days.
When I did have a moment to catch up with the news over the weekend, this interview with BigGovernment.com operator Andrew Breitbart caught my attention. Breitbart’s Web site was the one that pushed the ACORN scandal that was unveiled in a series of videos last month (see the blue box toward the top of the BigGovernment.com home page).
In the interview, Breitbart argues that his biggest target in publishing the videos was what he calls the “Democrat-media complex.” Writes his interviewer, The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto:
“This plan wasn’t just a means to defend against the media’s desire to attack the messenger,” Mr. Breitbart says. “It was also a means to attack the media and to expose them . . . for the partisan hacks that they are.”
The interview appeared on the Journal’s opinion pages, and in it Taranto — no one’s idea of a left-winger — makes an argument defending, in part, the media’s approach to the story:
Partisanship was not the only reason for media resistance to the Acorn story. The approach [aspiring filmmaker James] O’Keefe and [his colleague Hannah] Giles used—lying to prospective sources or subjects—is grossly unethical by the standards of institutional journalism. Almost all major news organizations, including the Journal, strictly prohibit it. To be sure, there is a world of difference between employing such tactics and reporting on the results when others have used them. And there is no question that the pair’s findings were newsworthy. But journalistic discomfort with their methods is a sign of integrity, not corruption.
Taranto’s explanation would certainly be welcome in the media ethics class I took in college. Breitbart acknowledges in the interview that he was taking a risk in working with O’Keefe and Giles. Is the market disputing the idea that the reporting (or lack thereof) on ACORN was about more than partisanship? Is it shifting to reward Breitbart’s kind of risk-taking rather than traditional notions of media integrity? Something in between? Something else?