Are US papers & networks gutless when it comes to taking on the politically powerful?

I have to admit I’m kind of surprised (overall) by how low key a lot of the big media response to the White House Iraq spin has been.

The Craig’s list founder said this

Is there a kernel of truth to this? Most of the truly incisive articles I’ve read re Iraq have been from online sources like Slate or expert blog commentary, not major media.

Consider the source. It is in the interest of craigslist (and presumably its founder) to tout the wonderfulness of internet information vs. traditional media, especially the one medium with which he competes most directly, i.e. newspapers.

Not to say there isn’t some truth to what he has to say.

The thing about newspapers and other major media outlets is that they have to plan to stick around for a long time, and this has both good and bad effects. The good effects include a certain sense of responsibility to verify facts before publication (with noted exceptions - but the very reason they are so noted is because these media outlets are so jealous of their reputations). There are lots of internet sources of information, but many of them are of dubious worth.

The bad effects include a timidity where the media outlets’ economical well-being is concerned (or is perceived to be concerned). The widespread perception that this is getting worse is, IMO, probably justified. It’s too bad, because by and large I don’t think the media have much to fear from any government body in this country (potential naiveté noted).

One other point: there are a lot of other levels of government besides national, and newspapers can and often do perform an excellent service in reporting on state and local government.

In the interest of full disclosure, I work for a major newspaper.