My, how the world has changed.
The NY Times is going to offer up reporters and editors today to answer questions on its hotly controversial story on John McCain's relationship with a lobbyist. I"ve already said, and still believe, that the Times blew a legitimate story by over-emphasizing the sex angle.
Haughty disdain is too kind a description for the Times' reaction to questions about reportorial malpractice and excesses during the late, great Whitewater snipe hunt. Simple, cold stonewalling was the primary response. Gene Lyons can give you chapter and verse -- see "Fools for Scandal." But, see, Clinton Rules applied then. Even today, I'd like a little Q&A with the Times over Clinton reporter Patrick Healy's preoccupation with the Clintons' marital (not extramarital) sex life. What the hell was THAT about? Clinton Rules.
The web noise machine has been vital in forcing more accountability on newspapers everywhere. That's a very good thing. I'm reminded of Humphrey Bogart in "Deadline USA" as he holds the phone up to the sound of a rumbling press. He tells a mobster there's nothing he can do to stop a damaging story from going public. The tapping of a million keyboards in the digital era is even louder, if only metaphorically. Those web keystrokes are sending Bogart's message daily, if not every minute, to out-of-touch, arrogant daily newspapers. Long accustomed to holding others up to inspection and ridicule, these big newspapers get VERY uncomfortable when they are put under the same degree of scrutiny.