Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Berlin Wall of the MSM has Been Broken

This editorial of Kate McMillan's is reprinted in full here:

The Bottle Genie

Well, it finally happened. Much of Canadian media broke radio silence on Climategate today. There really wasn't much choice but to report it, now that Environment Minister Jim Prentice had officially described the allegations as "serious", coupled with the day-old news that CRU head Phil Jones was "stepping aside" in preparation for his encounter with a double-decker.

As of this evening, there are 23,100,000 Google results for "climategate" - and exactly one on-air report from the CBC.

It's been 14 days since the cork was pulled from FOIA
And as it turns out, the concerted efforts of a protective mainstream media to ignore the scandal turned out to be worst possible course of events for the University of Anglia's motley CRU and their supporters in the wealth distribution industry.

They gave us something very powerful - 14 days of time. Time, while scores of bloggers and thousands of readers put in uncountable man hours of dissection and analysis.

Time for those who'd been discussed and copied in the leaked emails to confirm that there was no evidence of tampering.

Time for programmers to sift through Harry's now famous code line by line, to test it for themselves.

Time for members of the academic community to get their outrage and condemnation on the record, and on their own terms. Time for those who'd been targeted to retell their stories.

Time for opinion columnists and talk radio to break ranks and take on the job their news editors refused to do, to disseminate the facts gathered, checked and analyzed by bloggers to a wider audience.

Time for the comments sections of every online newspaper in the western world to fill with angry demands from their readers to cover the damned story. Not because they were needed anymore, but because we wanted the stupid charade to end.

So when Peter Mansbridge went on the National tonight to admit what he had surely known for days, we didn't watch to find out what's contained in FOIA, for we'd read it for ourselves.

We only watched to see if he had.

For perhaps the first time in the history of mass media, the gatekeepers broke a major scandal to an audience fully 10 days ahead of them.

It's a spin doctor's worst nightmare.

As I've been saying from the beginning, they're hearing the sound of all hell breaking loose. And as much as it's being directed at the research institutions and the policy makers following along like so many imprinted penguins, the bulk of public rage has focused on the media.

I don't think my friends in traditional news gathering truly appreciate what it is they've done. I don't believe they fully comprehend how gravely they have injured themselves, and how they're driving home the razor into an industry already struggling for survival with abbreviated, dismissive, misleading reports and "denier" and "conspiracy nut" slurs.

The bloggers tried to warn them. The opinion columnists tried to warn them, the talk hosts tried to warn them. Their readers, viewers and listeners tried to warn them.

The news media perfected the business of bombshells. They wind them up, drop them, film the explosion, and move on.

They're just learning now that we're in the business of bottle genies.

Posted by Kate at 12:48 AM

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