Newsweek finds itself at the center of a firestorm after publishing, defending, apologizing for, and finally retracting their story about interrogators at Guantanamo Bay disposing of the Koran as an intimidation technique. If the truth be told, the Newsweek scandal is just the latest in a long history of the press simply being exceedingly careless with their facts. What most don’t realize is just how long that history really is.
Because conservatives don’t riot and people don’t die when the establishment press gets our stories wrong, very few know how we’ve been libeled for so long. For the over forty years I’ve been in national politics, I’ve come to know that the completely accurate news story is the rare exception, not the rule. My experience is that over 95% of the stories I’ve been involved in – with personal knowledge of the facts and circumstances – have one or more significant errors.
Even worse is the reliance of lazy and/or opinionated journalists on the infamous “Anonymous Source,” making falsehoods and distortions even more difficult to expose and correct. Most of these anonymous sources are people with an agenda and an axe to grind but without the courage to be upfront. Unfortunately far too many journalists know that they don’t need to check their facts because they just don’t have to.
When they get their facts wrong, they know the truth will almost never see the light of day. While news executives bemoan their shrinking market share and establishment journalists sneer at the freewheeling, unregulated blogs – it all comes down to trust, and the mainstream media is fast losing ground.
Americans are demanding more from their news sources, and they have hundreds more options now than they did 40 years ago when conservatives began building an alternative media in this country (direct mail, talk radio, cable TV, and now the internet).
Best, Richard Viguerie
Richard Viguerie is the co-author of America’s Right Turn: How Conservatives Used New & Alternative Media to Take Power (2004, Bonus Books)