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The Liberal-Leaning Press: Its Impressive Spate of Public Service Journalism

By June 23, 2010

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Not since the halcyon days of journalism when two young Washington Post reporters exposed President Nixon's ties to the Watergate break-in has the liberal-leaning press generated such a impressive spate of truly important public-service journalism.

Leading the pack are two well-researched, impeccably-sourced articles by Rolling Stone magazine, both which will have lasting national impact:

  • The Runaway General by Michael Hastings, which colorfully recounts the openly-expressed cynicism and deep disrespect held by General Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, for Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama and his administration. As a result of the article, which became public less than 48 hours ago, McChrystal has been relieved of his duties.

  • The Spill, the Scandal and the President by Tim Dickinson (June 24, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone) which carries the by-line "The inside story of how Obama failed to crack down on the corruption of the Bush years - and let the world's most dangerous oil company get away with murder."

    In astonishing detail, the article provides insight into the sloppiness of the Obama administration, particularly by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, in tamping "down on the lawlessness at MMI" and in adequately providing oversight to that agency.

    Reported Rolling Stone, "Salazar himself has worked hard to foster the impression that the 'prior administration' is to blame for the catastrophe. In reality, though, the Obama administration was fully aware from the outset of the need to correct the lapses at MMS that led directly to the disaster in the Gulf."

Other top-notch journalists who've crafted exceptional reporting in recent months include:

  • CNN's Anderson Cooper, who has been relentless in his on-air coverage of the ugly impact of BP's oil-spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico on both residents and the region.

    The New York Times reports, "Mr. Cooper has spent more time in Louisiana... than any other national television anchor since the leak began. Evincing his frustration and his perseverance, he keeps a daily on-air tally of the number of days BP has ignored his interview requests."

  • MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who recently produced "Rise of the Right," a hard-hitting examination of the historical context and present-day rhetoric of violence and discrimination of rightwing extremists in 2010.

    Observes blog Chasing Evil, "Matthews does a creditable job of documenting the resurgence of an unhinged far right element, spearheaded by groups like the John Birch Society with roots in paleo-conservatism, conspiracy theories, and old-style antisemitism."

  • Eliot Spitzer, former New York governor and would-Be and future CNN journalist , did a terrifically capable turn as substitute host for vacationing Dylan Ratigan on MSNBC, in which he brilliantly dissected Wall Street abuses and financial reform legislation, among other topics.

    Today, CNN announced that Democrat Spitzer will be co-hosting an hour-long "roundtable discussion" program with conservative Washington Post columnist, Kathleen Parker.

    "CNN will be offering a lively roundup of all the best ideas - presented by two of the most intelligent and outspoken figures in the country," wrote CNN today. I fully expect smart, no-hold-bars analysis by Mr. Spitzer, and look forward to the program to commence this fall.

Indeed, not since the days of Woodward and Bernstein do I remember such robustly influential and impassioned journalism by liberal-leaning journalists in worthy pursuit of public good.

One odd difference though: most respected investigative efforts in 2010 are aimed at a supposedly liberal White House, not one occupied by a Republican.

I wonder... is this because of journalistic honesty and integrity, or painful disappointment with the Obama presidency? Or both?

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