It's a tough time in the news business, with lots of layoffs and red ink. So it's especially important for an organization like the Associated Press, which is cutting 10% of its staff, to allocate its limited investigative and reporting resources carefully, based on well-chosen priorities. James Taranto provided an excellent example:
An Associated Press dispatch, written by Erica Werner and Richard Alonso-Zaldivar, compares the House and Senate ObamaCare bills. We'd like to compare this dispatch to the AP's dispatch earlier this week "fact checking" Sarah Palin's new book. Here goes:
Number of AP reporters assigned to story:
• ObamaCare bills: 2
• Palin book: 11
Number of pages in document being covered:
• ObamaCare bills: 4,064
• Palin book: 432
Number of pages per AP reporter:
• ObamaCare bill: 2,032
• Palin book: 39.3
On a per-page basis, that is, the AP devoted 52 times as much manpower to the memoir of a former Republican officeholder as to a piece of legislation that will cost trillions of dollars and an untold number of lives. That's what they call accountability journalism.
I suppose that kind of prioritization of journalistic resources is why the evening news, CNN, MSNBC, NYT, WaPo, etc., haven't dug into the many examples of bogus math and fiscal sleight-of-hand in the ObamaCare bills, like delaying most of the expenditures until 2013 (after the election) so that the CBO's 10-year projection includes only seven years' worth of costs. And they've been too busy with the Palin investigations to notice that both the House and Senate bills contain the regulatory framework that will eventually transform government panels' suggested standards of care, like those much-criticized mammogram and Pap smear recommendations, into the tools for rationing health care.
I suppose it's also why you'll have a hard time finding any in-depth coverage of the bogus accounting and reporting of the "stimulus" bill's spending and job creation.
This is nothing new. During the campaign last fall, the big media organizations sent scores of reporters to scour Alaska in search of dirt on Gov. Palin. But hardly anyone had time to investigate Obama's relationships with Tony Rezko, the Daley brothers, ACORN, Rod Blagojevich, Emil Jones, and other elements of the Chicago machine (well, to be fair, I think one reporter each from the Chicago Sun-Times and the Washington Times and a couple of semi-pros from Newsmax doggedly dug into these things).
But some journalists still have the courage to hammer interviewees with challenging, aggressive, well-researched, adversarial questions — at least when the interviewee is a 17-year-old Sarah Palin fan. Speaking Truth to Teenager. (By all means, take Finkelstein's advice and read the blog entry by interviewee Jackie Seals. Fascinating.)
Maybe the courageous Norah O'Donnell's next assignment will be to confront supporters of ObamaCare with tough questions like, "Do you realize that if this passes, you could be sent to jail for not buying an approved health care plan?" And then she'll go to some "Save the Planet" rally and challenge a Gore supporter with, "Are you aware that the Earth's core is 4000°, not a million degrees as Mr. Gore has claimed, and that many of his other claims are equally outlandish and unsubstantiated?"
Somehow, I doubt it. And I'm not holding my breath waiting for 60 Minutes reporters to ambush the perpetrators of the latest climate fraud, either.