Hard Hitting Journalism

In an otherwise great Frank Rich column, this:

Yes, journalists have made tons of mistakes and always will. But without their enterprise, to take a few representative recent examples, we would not have known about the wretched conditions for our veterans at Walter Reed, the government’s warrantless wiretapping, the scams at Enron or steroids in baseball.

I’m sure the SF papers have done a great job covering the BALCO case, but I have not read a word of it. Really, if newspapers really think they have uncovered anything earthshattering by reporting that baseball players are using steroids, the medium is deader than I thought. Steroid use was an open secret for decades in baseball, and openly ignored by players, fans, officials, owners, MLB, and sports reporters the entire time.

Up next, baseball players used amphetamines. I smell a Pulitzer!






57 replies
  1. 1
    Joe Vegas says:

    Steroid use was an open secret for decades in baseball, and openly ignored by players, fans, officials, owners, MLB, and sports reporters the entire time.

    And would have kept being so until the SF Chron published its articles? Sometime the press is as important for setting the debate as it is for actually finding something new, no?

  2. 2
    DougJ says:

    I think some of the reporters for Chron went to jail to protect sources, too.

    I see your point about steroids being a non-issue, but what those Chron guys did was courageous. And to do it in the name of such a shitty newspaper makes it that much more courageous in some kind of way.

  3. 3
    sgwhiteinfla says:

    I believe but definitely could be wrong, that it was two SF newspaper guys who broke the story on BALCO. The thing about BALCO was that they were putting forth a product that couldn’t be detected. The lesser talked about thing about BALCO was it wasn’t just baseball players. A lot of people don’t realize that some very prominent former NFL guys were caught up with BALCO as was of course some prominent track people biggest of all American darling Marion Jones. I would have to say that their story did qualify as earth shattering when it actually touched as many people as it did. I for one wouldn’t have ever suspected Dana Stubblefield for instance of being on PEDs and at the time the story broke I wouldn’t have thought it of Marion Jones either.

  4. 4
    Pb says:

    Actually, warantless wiretapping is not so great an example either; it got exposed thanks to Thomas Tamm, who made the mistake of calling The New York Times with the story. It was The Times who then sat on the story for eighteen months on the Bush administration’s say-so while their reporters quietly wrote books about it instead. In the meantime, the public was not informed, Bush got re-elected, and it was Tamm who got his house raided by the FBI in 2007. Yay journalistic ‘enterprise’, woo freedom and whistleblower protections.

  5. 5
    JK says:

    Two sources that highlight hard hitting journalism

    http://www.brooklyn.liu.edu/polk/index.html
    http://www.projectcensored.org

  6. 6
    calipygian says:

    The You Tube that Rich pointed to is HILARIOUS! Newspapers delivered to you by computer! Who’d believe that? Especially since it takes two hours to deliver the Chronicle over a modem and connection costs are five dollars an hour.

    Never happen.

  7. 7
    Anastasius says:

    That column had a good start with acknowledging some of their problems but then just came the usual rants:
    Google is evil, bloggers are so cute with their, like, opinions, “citizen journalists” are all welfare queens, etc.

    They still have a long way to go and many newspapers have to die till they finally wake up.

  8. 8
    DougJ says:

    I for one wouldn’t have ever suspected Dana Stubblefield for instance of being on PEDs and at the time the story broke I wouldn’t have thought it of Marion Jones either.

    I didn’t know they nabbed Stubblefield. Great lineman back in the day. Though Bryant Young was better.

    Those were some great teams.

  9. 9
    Zifnab25 says:

    I was going to say, do journalists really get points for stenographing wistleblowers? Because so much of this wasn’t work of investigative reporters, it was picked up by independent watch dogs like the ACLU.

    And while I’ll be happy to agree that wiretapping and secret prisons were the biggest stories of 04 and 05, what really got all the coverage? Was it government crime or Anna Nicole Smith?

  10. 10

    Hell yeah. Good post.

    ==//

    And we haven’t even started to explore the rich territory of sports teams stealing signs from each other.

    Did you know that The Shot Heard Round the World might have been aided by a stolen sign?

    This promises to overshadow GWOT. Oh, doctor!

  11. 11
    El Cid says:

    We could make a whole game out of this type of argument — what if every profession and career and craft were held to the extreme low standards of mainstream / establishment journalism, Wall Street bank / investment executives, and so on and so forth.

    ‘I’m sorry we forgot to make sure your house didn’t fall down, and that’s too bad about your loss, but, hey, if it weren’t for the construction industry we wouldn’t have hardly any houses at all — what, would you get bloggers to build you a house?’

  12. 12
    Mouse Tolliver says:

    Salon.com covered the horrible living conditions at Walter Reed two years before traditional media got around to it.

  13. 13
    mt says:

    I depend on my newspaper to keep me enhanced. It’s like viagra without the erection.

  14. 14
    RSA says:

    Careful how far you go in mocking sports journalism. My headline would be “Grown Men Paid Obscene Amounts of Money to Play Children’s Games”, except it’s not really news…

  15. 15
    jenniebee says:

    what if every profession and career and craft were held to the extreme low standards of mainstream / establishment journalism

    I don’t know about anybody else’s profession, but mine (custom applications development & software solutions – who names these things anyway?) has been trying to work up to that standard for years.

  16. 16

    But without their enterprise, to take a few representative recent examples, we would not have known about the wretched conditions for our veterans at Walter Reed, the government’s warrantless wiretapping, the scams at Enron or steroids in baseball.

    Uh, no. Those aren’t a few representative examples, those are almost all the fucking examples with steroid use added on because Rich realized the list was rather lame. Talk about “One of these things is not like the other.”

    When I see the GOP whining up a storm because they’ve discovered people think they suck, and I see the same behavior from journalists and various media wank artists, I understand why people think the GOP and the media are one in the same.

  17. 17

    The Balco thing wasn’t such a big deal and there were plenty of other operations around the country doing the same and more. The big deal was that it nabbed Barry Bonds, who may actually have not taken steroids. (Okay, he took something, but the stuff he was indicted for denying he was taking a steroid wasn’t technically classified as a steroid.)

    Lots and lots of ballplayers were taking steroids. The bigger story was the runaway federal prosecution of Bonds. They’ve spent over $30 million over a half decade to get him and the case is foundering between lack of evidence and illegally seized evidence. That 2003 test result was one of hundreds of positive results. That would just be the couple hundred major leaguers who failed the drug test, not the number who were able to avoid a positive result.

    So even the great journalistic coup of discovering steroids was less than it appeared and didn’t get the real story. But maybe if we can get Judith Miller on the case…

  18. 18
    Persia says:

    @El Cid: Isn’t that what the investment bankers have been telling us for the last year or so?

  19. 19
    Joshua Norton says:

    The only big thing about BALCO was that Barry Bonds was involved. If he wasn’t going for a world record the whole thing would never would have made it off the sports page.

    They’re really stretching for piss-poor examples to try to cover up for their WMD/Iraq war cheerleading.

  20. 20
    Brachiator says:

    Steroid use was an open secret for decades in baseball, and openly ignored by players, fans, officials, owners, MLB, and sports reporters the entire time.

    I disagree here. Yeah, there are a lot of open secrets, and tons of “conventional wisdom” on the part of fans and observers, but too often the larger public is kept from the hard evidence and proof until some unmanageable scandal erupts that forces people to violate the status quo.

    As suggested in the reporting surrounding a new film on the outing of gay political figures, it was an “open secret” that Congressman Mark Foley was gay. He traveled freely in the Florida gay community, and there are numerous photos of Foley and his partner at charitable and political events (though always with a woman in between them, supposedly the partner’s date). It was even an open secret that Foley chased after male pages.

    But there is a difference between what you know and what you are able (or willing) to prove.

    And here is the difference between real journalism and the sham rationalizations that reporters — and some observers — want to fall back on.

    The big deal was that it nabbed Barry Bonds, who may actually have not taken steroids.

    You would have to believe in WMDs in Iraq, the competence of the Bush Administration and the Easter Bunny to believe that Bonds (or Manny or Sosa or A-Rod) was not using steroids. But some sports fans, like the worst GOP wingnuts, live in a constant state of denial, because it is the only way that they desperately need to find a way to continue to love their sport the way that wingnuts need to believe that only Republicans can be real Americans.

  21. 21
    El Cid says:

    @Persia: Yup. Notice I included them. You could include others.

  22. 22
    Woody says:

    Who gives a fuck about ball-players on steroids?

    It changes what?

    It matters how, non-trivially?

    Athletes will cheat any chance they get for any edge they can secure. It’s never been any different.

    I don’t really care, one way or the other…

    Though I don’t think we should be racing horses until they’re four or five…

  23. 23
    Nellcote says:

    It takes a lot of something for op-ed columnists to diss bloggers for being mere opinion mongerers.

  24. 24
    Brachiator says:

    @Nellcote:

    It takes a lot of something for op-ed columnists to diss bloggers for being mere opinion mongerers.

    Good one!

  25. 25
    Calouste says:

    @HitlerWorshippingPuppyKicker:

    “The shot heard around the world”? Don’t make me laugh. The rest of the world gives about as much about American sports as Americans do about soccer.

  26. 26
    Joshua Norton says:

    Of course, now in a fit of overcompensation, they give us hard hitting reporting about teleprompters or Michelle and Queen Elizabeth hugging.

    I stopped buying the Chronicle while Bush was in office because I couldn’t stand the unbridled repug propaganda that was being foisted on us as news. I imagine a lot of other people did the same thing with their local papers and looked around for alternative sources. Now they’re all paying the piper for misjudging the intelligence of their readers. And continue to do so.

    Idiots.

  27. 27
    Dave_Violence says:

    Frank Rich and the other comedians at the NYT think the world owes them a living. They’re all full of shit, good riddance to bad rubbish.

  28. 28

    Don’t make me laugh.

    Yeah, a little late for that rant.

    The shot was named about 57 years ago.

    And of course, anyone older than 11 and who knows baseball would know that the phrase referred to “the baseball world.”

    But I agree with you, I don’t think anyone should make you laugh.

  29. 29
    Third Eye Open says:

    Fuck baseball, I want a new census for what is “America’s Pastime”.

    I think with the right marketing and a little luck, curling will be embraced throughout the country. I mean, shouldn’t all sports end with the winner buying the loser a beer?

  30. 30
    Brachiator says:

    @Joshua Norton:

    I stopped buying the Chronicle while Bush was in office because I couldn’t stand the unbridled repug propaganda that was being foisted on us as news. I imagine a lot of other people did the same thing with their local papers and looked around for alternative sources.

    I keep hearing about these wonderful alternative sources of news (as opposed to opinion). I keep waiting for someone to offer a good one.

    Now they’re all paying the piper for misjudging the intelligence of their readers. And continue to do so.

    This is a mixed bag. Throughout the blogosphere and elsewhere, a persistent complaint is that a particular newspaper or radio station or TV station is bad because it is insufficiently conservative/liberal/progressive/whatever. Newspapers don’t know whether their salvation lies in pitching to intelligent readers or to stoopid ones.

  31. 31
    garyb50 says:

    I’ve experienced ‘reporting’ on a local & national level. From the most mundane to a murder of a relative. Sandwiched in there was a totally bizarre 7 day gig on the set of Oliver Stone’s JFK movie.

    Reporters/journalists… whatever, are ego tripping, lying conniving dick/dickettes.

    I don’t believe anything.

  32. 32
    Warren Terra says:

    I have enormous respect for journalism, and I really hate Internet Triumphalists who ignore the vital role of all those people who put out the news every day and do all the boring repetitive scut, while bloggers are free to snipe and cherrypick. And the institutions really matter, as do the connections and visibility built over the length of a career, all the risks of corrupt relationships with sources notwothstanding.

    But, oddly, the glamorous stories of the sort Rich highlights are the type most likely to be covered by crusading bloggers, partisan magazines, and the not-for profit media such as the Center For Independent Media. It’s telling that, as several people have noted upthread, of the stories Rich lists one is massive reporting on an open secret largely relating to some proportion of the tiny pirt of our country that are professional athletes (steroids), while another broke online (Walter Reed) and yet another was broken by a leaker who could as easily have gone to a reputable blogger or to a newsmagazine; does anyone doubt that the New Yorker could have handled it at least as well as the Times did, with their eighteen month delay?

  33. 33
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    What a bunch of cynics. I for one was totally surprised to be told that sports figures who were suddenly developing muscles in their eyelids were “on something.”
    The shorter Frank Rich:
    “Even a blind hog finds an acorn every once in a while.”

  34. 34
    Krista says:

    I think with the right marketing and a little luck, curling will be embraced throughout the country. I mean, shouldn’t all sports end with the winner buying the loser a beer?

    Nope — curling is too strongly associated with those awful soc-ialist Canucks. If people try curling, next thing you know, they’ll be adding superfluous “u”s onto their words and eating cheese curds and gravy with their french fries. That way lies madness.

  35. 35
    voldemortsgirl says:

    I don’t get it. New York Times is basically bankrupt but they hired ONE MORE COLUMNIST. No offense to Douthat, but New York Times is going down the drain because of shallow journalism. I still love their foreign column news. I weep for principled journalists but to pundits, I only say bye!

    OTOH New York Times has the best Online Media design. Wapo is stuck in the fifteenth century.

  36. 36
    voldemortsgirl says:

    I love the New Yorker except for their god awful cartoons which are distinctive because they are not funny. At all.

  37. 37
    Ninerdave says:

    .@Dave_Violence:

    Frank Rich and the other comedians at the NYT think the world owes them a living. They’re all full of shit, good riddance to bad rubbish.

    I think you all are missing the point of the article. The piece is not about steroids, or BALCO being such a great win for investigative reporting. The piece is that newspapers and the traditional media is dead. They are trying to fight off their death, but in the end they will be replaced by an as yet unknown something else. That something will come at a cost, because reporters indeed need to be paid. Josh Marshall and company do some excellent reporting (and I’m thinking that’s what the new media will eventually be like) but he doesn’t do it for free.

    Blogs are mostly opinion. Cable news is mostly opinion. Opinion is good, I like opinion. However opinion, by it’s nature, is not reporting. Opinion is cheep to create, reporting is expensive. Rich’s point is the traditional model of ad supported reporting is gone, and we need reporters. I couldn’t agree more.

    Now, I’m not arguing that the traditional media does a bang up job of reporting, but without reporters, there won’t be much to opine about.

  38. 38
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @Warren Terra:
    Correct me if I’m wrong but, aren’t the papers firing most of the people who do the boring repetitive scut? Seems like a lot of them, at least in the versions I read online, are moving more towards being clones of “USA Today.” One thing that does bother me about the decline of papers is that at present few bloggers have the resources and the connections to do in-depth investigative reporting. The sad part is, few newspapers seem to have the resources any more and those with the connections have been co-opted by them.

  39. 39
    Warren Terra says:

    Oh, yeah, on double-checking I see that the fourth of Rich’s four examples was Enron. I don’t recall what if any role Newspapers had in precipitating Enron’s collapse (I remember some woman whistleblower was important, but I don’t know to whom she blew the whistle, or when), but the best reporting on Enron was iirc done by a lady writing for Business Week, not a newspaper, and she got no pickup from the papers; indeed, the daily business reporyers tend to be lousy, only redeemed by being better than the hourly business reporters Jon Stewart skewered. So that’s four examples, with solid work by Newspapers really only on one of them, the allegedly important issue of steroid use. Not a list to inspire confidence; still, my argument alredy was that the biggest stories were the wrong place to look for Newspaper glory.

    Indeed, if you look at the internet’s greatest moments of glory you’d have to include the US Attorneys scandal – which was uncovered entirely by TPM on the basis of distributed small-seeming unglamorous little stories in local papets, from which Josh Marshall found a pattern. No boring little stories, no expose.

    P.S. @#36’s complaint about The New Yorker’s cartoons: I largely agree, but they have one redeeming feature: at least half are improved of you replace any caption or dialog with the line “Geez, what an asshole”. I love those projects to repurpose unfunny cartoons, such as the Random Garfield Generator, or the Garfield Without Garfield project.

  40. 40
    Third Eye Open says:

    @Krista:

    Thats where the decoupling of curling from its Canuckistani roots will have to occur.

    BTW, what sort of gawd-awful American food do y’all chide us for?

  41. 41
    Warren Terra says:

    @ Dennis-SGMM
    I totally agree that the Newspapers are a shell of their former selves and that further they are prioritizing their least important and least exclusive functions and bleeding their most important and least replacable ones. I don’t offer a solution to this, just my description of the problem.

    I’d also recommend anyone who hasn’t see series 5 of The Wire (which dramatizes the importance of scut reporting and journalistists’ contacts and the pitfalls of focusing a paper on glamorous stories at the expense of the rest). And see the British version of State Of Play, which has some defects but does show the importance of journalists with contacts and with dedication, even if it’s mostly deducation to sleaze.

  42. 42
    JK says:

    Hard hitting journalism isn’t dead, it’s just on life support.

    I’ll start worrying about steroids in baseball after our economy is fixed and the global warming problem is solved.

    For anyone seeking good alternatives to the MSM, I’ve found the following websites useful.

    http://www.themediaconsortium.org/our-members
    http://theplumline.whorunsgov.com
    http://www.consortiumnews.com
    http://www.democracynow.org
    http://www.zcommunications.org/znet
    http://www.gregpalast.com
    http://www.deepcapture.com

  43. 43
    tammanycall says:

    @Woody:

    “Who gives a fuck about ball-players on steroids?

    It changes what?

    It matters how, non-trivially?”

    This man makes good sense. Give him a column in the NYT.

  44. 44
    John Cole says:

    @JK: The plumline is the WaPo.

  45. 45
    Brachiator says:

    @Third Eye Open:

    I think with the right marketing and a little luck, curling will be embraced throughout the country. I mean, shouldn’t all sports end with the winner buying the loser a beer?

    I watched some curling championships on one of the digital TV stations. I kept saying to myself, “This is a sport?”

  46. 46
    Third Eye Open says:

    @Brachiator:

    It’s a sport in the same way that bowling is a sport, which is to say it isn’t, but that has never stopped anyone from putting it on ESPN. Paper-Rock-Scissor tournaments, anyone?

    Just think of all the endorsements possible from broom and kneepad manufacturers

  47. 47
    Brachiator says:

    @Dennis-SGMM:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but, aren’t the papers firing most of the people who do the boring repetitive scut?

    Yeah. You’re wrong. For a number of complex reasons, when the LA Times offered early retirement buyouts to people, they had to offer them equitably based on years of service, even if they wanted to keep the person offered the buyout. A lot of experienced people in all departments, including editorial, took the offer.

    Most recently, newspapers have been cutting the most expensive staffers, which invariably means veteran reporters. This has affected not only the mainstream papers but alternative papers like the LA Weekly, which laid off veteran political columnist Marc Cooper, whose analyses of the local and national political scene was generally far superior to most of the other stuff out there. For example, even though he didn’t think much of him as a politician, Cooper accurately assessed the dissatisfaction with Sacramento which led to the rise of The Governator.

    Newspapers are shedding arts critics left and right, and I think someone has noted that the NY Times Book review may be the only standalone book section in a major American daily.

    Experienced copy editors are being let go as well. Even casual readers are noticing more errors in newspapers, and not just typos, but sloppy errors of fact. And as always, the corrections are hidden away in a corner somewhere.

  48. 48
    IndieTarheel says:

    @Dennis-SGMM:

    What a bunch of cynics. I for one was totally surprised to be told that sports figures who were suddenly developing muscles in their eyelids were “on something.”

    And THAT is the quote of the day! Well done.

  49. 49
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @Third Eye Open:
    There’s a whole damn channel devoted to GOLF. They could just broadcast a still photo of Tiger Woods lining up a putt and it would be at least four hours before anyone caught on.

  50. 50
    JK says:

    @John Cole:

    Sorry, my bad. The rest are legit.

  51. 51
    Third Eye Open says:

    @Dennis-SGMM:

    I see your GOLF channel, and raise you a TVG (horse racing).

    Does it say more about me that I can’t sit through a regular season baseball game, or about American culture that we pay people tens of millions of dollars to do it?

  52. 52
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @Brachiator:
    Thanks for straightening me out on that. All I’ve been hearing is “Newspaper X is laying off 100 staffers in an effort to cut costs,” and then the piece usually goes into how long the paper has been published and which of the chains last bought it out.

  53. 53
    HyperIon says:

    @Warren Terra:

    series 5 of The Wire (which dramatizes the importance of scut reporting and journalistists’ contacts and the pitfalls of focusing a paper on glamorous stories at the expense of the rest)

    uh oh…a mention of “the wire”.
    i miss it but after omar bit the dust, what was the point of continuing. ;=)

    david simon has been quoted recently complaining that his paper (balmore sun?) was actually making money when they were gutting the newsroom. he is a smart jounalist turned writer.

  54. 54
    asiangrrlMN says:

    I didn’t think Rich’s piece was all that great, and I usually like what he writes. I think that newspapers are dying out, but that doesn’t mean journalists need to die out. I do think people will pay money for quality news on the web, if it’s truly quality. Our world is constantly changing. It’s pretty unrealistic to expect that something like the newspaper is going to last forever. I mean, books in general are becoming something of an anachronism, and I would put newspapers into the same category.

    I think it’s sad, and I will mourn if the newspaper disappears completely (as I will if and when the book becomes obsolete), but I don’t think we’re going to go back to papers and books en masse.

  55. 55
    HyperIon says:

    @Brachiator:

    the NY Times Book review may be the only standalone book section in a major American daily.

    Yes, WaPo’s Book World died recently. Sad.
    But I get sort of the same info via BookTV these days. Except the experience is often not modulated by a reviewer, which can be a good thing.

  56. 56
    Warren Terra says:

    David Simon has been quoted recently complaining that his paper (Balmore Sun?) was actually making money when they were gutting the newsroom. he is a smart jounalist turned writer.

    When the newspapers started what now looks to be a death spiral, in the late 90s/early 00s, a very big part of it was that moguls and companies were buying them to make money, rather than news, and that although a typical newspaper in those times has an operating margin of 15-20% per year the investors insisted on 25-30% per year, often because they were leveraged to the eyeballs.

    This shows up in the very beginning of Series 5 of the Wire, the layoff scene in the paper, when the main Sun character (the idealized Editor, whose name I do not recall) specifically mentions that the paper is making a 20% profit but that the Chicago boys who bought the paper need a still higher return.

    Things have only gotten worse since advertising revenue has plummeted, especially because a lot of newspapers are still owned by people who borrowed way too much to buy them – and now the credit is more expensive, to boot.

  57. 57
    binzinerator says:

    @JK:

    Hard hitting journalism isn’t dead, it’s just on life support.

    Yup. And if we want to examine some of the root causes, look no further than this thread.

    Exacly how many comments here are about balco, bonds & baseball? It’s almost in danger of becoming a breakout discussion of the whole steroid thing. If the thread becomes a rehashing of steroid use in baseball, isn’t it missing the point? It would be a demonstration of why journalism is dying — even people here are more interested in analyzing what’s ailing their favorite entertainment than in analyzing what’s ailing journalism. Maybe we got the journalism coverage enough people wanted.

    Speaking of which, I think here’s a hint why hard-hitting journalism is almost defunct. From Rich’s column:

    Colbert’s routine did not kill. The Washington Post reported that it “fell flat.” The Times initially did not even mention it. But to the Beltway’s bafflement, Colbert’s riff went viral overnight, ultimately to have a marathon run as the most popular video on iTunes. The cultural disconnect between the journalism establishment and the public it aspires to serve could not have been more vividly dramatized.

    Rich realizes there is a disconnect between the journo establishment and the public and nails that this episode marked a visible rupture. (And I saw Colbert’s performance and I knew it was significant — both for the meaning of journalism and as a historical milepost in the Bush regime years.)

    But Rich is wrong that Colbert’s routine did not kill. Hell, anyone who watched and who wasn’t a journo or a wingnut (i.e., someone who wasn’t a target or any who could understand irony, sarcasm and absurdity) was floored. It was fucking funny and cut deep in only the way that comedy based on truth can be. Colbert didn’t kill, he fucking slaughtered then napalmed the goddamed the survivors. It was one of the funniest and ballsiest comedy routines I’d ever seen. And it was more than fucking funny. It was a catharsis.

    So Rich gets Colbert’s criticisms (unlike most other journos, who still resent them). But when he says ‘Colbert’s routine did not kill’ he does not realize who the audience really is. It’s not the journo establishment. It’s not a closed event. It was videotaped and broadcast. It would be archived. Colbert wasn’t performing for the journos, much as they like to think. Colbert’s routine really did kill his audience, it’s just that Rich still doesn’t have a clue who ‘the audience’ really was.

    And finally, from Colbert’s performance itself, here’s a huge truth:

    Over the last five years you people were so good, over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn’t want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew.

    We Americans didn’t want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out.

    And ever since Colbert exposed the truth, more and more of us have been wanting to know. And journalists are still thinking they are doing us the courtesy of not trying to find out.

    That, in a not-so-brief nutshell, is why hard-hitting journalism is on life support.

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