Palin's Book And Obama's Bow: A Media Week To Forget

Palin's Book And Obama's Bow: A Media Week To Forget
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Ugh, what a gruesome week it was for news consumers as the "serious" press showered time and attention on two GOP-friendly stories that defined "trivial pursuits": a book release and a bow. Sadly, this is what the Beltway press corps now voluntarily -- eagerly -- reduces itself to: chasing pointless, vacuous "news" stories that are literally of no consequence.

Why? Because the book and bow represented the easy, lazy, and safe thing to do last week. And among media elites, those remain three irresistible forces. (Raise your hand if you heard even one insightful comment about Sarah Palin amidst the TV cacophony last week.) That, along with the media's tradition of acquiescing to whatever production/distraction the GOP Noise Machine is cooking up, ensured the book and bow were elevated to breaking news status. Meaning, if it's a big deal to Drudge and Limbaugh and Beck and Malkin -- if they're all cheering it (Palin's book) or if they're all screaming about it (President Obama's bow) -- it must be news. In reality, of course, that's an awful way to run a newsroom assignment desk. But more and more producers and editors are gladly abdicating their responsibilities.

Not that long ago, serious journalists routinely ignored the noisemakers on the fringe, confident in their own ability to identify the news. Now, many inside the Beltway not only refuse to ignore the right-wing fringe, they look to it expectantly for "news" leads and soon find themselves filing pointless stories about whether the president's bow to the Japanese emperor was too deep. Or inappropriate. Or whatever the haters were carping about. (Of course, in news accounts, the unhinged haters are dressed up as Obama "critics.")

Not only did we see monumentally misguided decisions in obsessing over Palin's book release and even acknowledging the manufactured controversy of Obama's bow, but lots of the actual coverage was just atrocious. ABC News, in particular, seemed to embarrass itself in this regard.

Read the full Media Matters column here.

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