The Media Party is over

So says Howard Fineman at Newsweek:

A political party is dying before our eyes — and I don’t mean the Democrats. I’m talking about the “mainstream media,” which is being destroyed by the opposition (or worse, the casual disdain) of George Bush’s Republican Party; by competition from other news outlets (led by the internet and Fox’s canny Roger Ailes); and by its own fraying journalistic standards. At the height of its power, the AMMP (the American Mainstream Media Party) helped validate the civil rights movement, end a war and oust a power-mad president. But all that is ancient history.

When did it all start?

Still, the notion of a neutral, non-partisan mainstream press was, to me at least, worth holding onto. Now it’s pretty much dead, at least as the public sees things. The seeds of its demise were sown with the best of intentions in the late 1960s, when the AMMP was founded in good measure (and ironically enough) by CBS. Old folks may remember the moment: Walter Cronkite stepped from behind the podium of presumed objectivity to become an outright foe of the war in Vietnam. Later, he and CBS’s star White House reporter, Dan Rather, went to painstaking lengths to make Watergate understandable to viewers, which helped seal Richard Nixon’s fate as the first president to resign.

Read the whole thing. He makes sure to credit the rise of the “Blogger Nation” (in part) with the demise of the media as we know it. In addition to Brent Bozell’s brilliant Media Research site, which doesn’t get near the credit it deserves, the mainstream media have hundreds of thousands of factcheckers now: you, me, and other bloggers. What they got away with even five years ago they’ll have a harder time pulling off now.

In the meantime re: the CBS “final report”, Dan Rather says:

“I shall keep its [the report’s] lessons well in mind.”

Ummkay.