Just because you’re the press doesn’t mean you have to print a campaign’s press releases without fact checking them first. I talked a little about this before. In their desperation to post things as quickly as humanly possible, the media has reached the point where it simply prints whatever anyone near a microphone says and worries about the accuracy of it later.
In the past, journalists used to follow rules about getting rebuttals and confirmations and reaction quotes before going to print with something. That time is gone. At this point, we should just hook Dragon Naturally Speaking up to every campaign microphone and feed it directly onto CNN’s website.
Today Senator John McCain decided to prove he has the biggest swinging cod on the block and told us that if he were President he’d up and fire that rotten head of the SEC, Chris Cox. No one bothered to look into the fact that the president can’t fire commissioners of independent regulatory agencies.
So for the better part of a day, Senator McCain gets to look like Mr. Tough Guy, ready to shitcan the first person who harms a single hair on the head of one of his beloved American workers. It would be nice if someone told Arizonan Cowboy that his gun is plastic before printing his threats to shoot any varmint that gets in his way.
Yes, a President can ask for their resignation, but saying that he’d handle the situation by changing the guard wasn’t the intent of Senator McCain’s line. It was to make him look like the badass maverick again, to show that he’s not afraid to straight talk his way right the hell through those who betray his country. He was the drunk guy in the bar telling us if that guy who just left came back in he was gonna break this pool cue over his head. It was bluster.
And the media, the ones who are supposed to pay attention to this stuff and to report not only what someone said but whether or not what they said has any truth to it whatsoever, continues to print first and verify later. Paul Begala made a funny joke in a column about how if Senator McCain said the moon was made of green cheese and Senator Obama said it was made of rock, they would print something like “CANDIDATES CLASH ON LUNAR LANDSCAPE.”
I’m sure that, sometime the next day they’d print some postscript about how they did finally call Neil Armstrong and he said it was, in fact, made of rock, but by that point you’d have a day of press coverage showing a false statement as equivalent to a true statement.
That’s how it works, now. Candidate or politician speaks, press takes the dictation. I’m sure the fact that the media has been subsumed by corporate entertainment divisions and that typists demand lower pay than journalists has nothing to do with it, either.