CNN, which likes to boast that itâ€™s Americaâ€™s non-ideological cable news network, revealed in its Republican presidential debate collaboration with the Tea Party Express the hidden political reality behind â€ścentristâ€ť journalism â€“ a never-ending pandering to the Right.
The basic truth about mainstream journalism is that the careerists who dominate the national news media are keenly attuned to where the worst career dangers lie and steer away accordingly. And, by far, the biggest risk to a journalistâ€™s career is to be deemed â€śliberalâ€ť by the Rightâ€™s powerful attack machine.
So, while CNN would surely recoil from a suggestion that it co-sponsor a Democratic debate with, say, Moveon.org, the â€śNo Bias, No Bullâ€ť network saw no problem in associating its journalistic credibility with the far-right Tea Party.
Similar tendencies in the U.S. news media can be noted in everything from the endless fawning over Ronald Reaganâ€™s glorious legacy to the reliably pro-war tilt of most key news outlets, as underscored in an article on Sunday by the New York Times former executive editor Bill Keller. [See Consortiumnews.comâ€™s â€śWho Are These People?â€ť]
Among mainstream journalists, there is almost no career danger from offending the American Left because it is viewed as essentially powerless, lacking any significant media clout of its own.
However, the Right has invested heavily both in building its own media infrastructure and financing anti-journalism attack groups. Together, they boast many scalps, including those of former CBS anchor Dan Rather and his courageous producer Mary Mapes (who broke the Abu Ghraib prison scandal but was undone for a segment questioning George W. Bushâ€™s National Guard record).
So, career-savvy mainstream journalists carefully position themselves so as not to get in the Rightâ€™s firing line.