THE PLANK JANUARY 4, 2008
I just picked up office copies of today's New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, with an eye to comparing their coverage of a historic night. The Post and Times were
falling all over themselves to broadcast the Iowa results--in both
papers, some 60 percent of page A1 (above the fold) is devoted to
full-color announcement of the Huckabee/Obama wins. Barack and Michelle
smile and wave; Huckabee signs things for tots; the feeling on these
pages is one of confetti-tossing joy.
Not so in the Journal.
The major headline reads: "PCs Take a Stylish Turn in Bid to Rival
Apple." A thin right-hand column about the importance of independents
in New Hampshire bears the burden of election coverage, with a lede
that only hints at the Iowa result while breezily discounting its
importance. The inside coverage, on A8, is a dour rehash of pre-caucus
informatics, featuring half-hearted charts and now-dated poll averages.
Murdoch and company's sin of omission is well-noted. Non-conspiracy theorists may submit that the WSJ went
to press before editors could cobble together a story on the caucuses
(called by networks c. 8:55 and 9:25pm). But to me this reads as
unsubtle protectionism--shielding establishment candidates (and WSJ darlings)
Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton from their own poor showings, and
making Iowa into a Non-Story for their readers. This also happens to be
horrific journalism. Earth to Murdoch: Get someone on deadline to write
up the biggest story of this short year, or get out of the business.
P.S. The website got it together by morning, but grudgingly.