The Corner

What’s a News Organization?

As Corner readers know, I’m a huge fan of Mickey Kaus’s. But I should say that I don’t think Mickey’s musings on Fox have been his finest hour. (See Steve Spruiell’s response to Mickey here). On the merits, I think Mickey makes a fine point here:

2) Still, David Axelrod’s central argument, that because Fox is not really a ‘news organization’ other media should “not follow their lead” doesn’t make sense. You don’t have to be an independent “news organization” to break a story. The Democratic National Committee could break a story–that is, disclose the information that demonstrated something newsworthy had happened (say, that a presidential aide signed a Truther petition). The March of Dimes could break a story. The Scientologists could break a story. Joe’s Garage could break a story. And Fox can break a story. The traditional, independent “news media” will follow the leads they think are real stories. They don’t follow only the ones that come from “news organizations.” How was Axelrod going to stop that?

As I’m fond of saying, anyone can commit journalism. Though, it would have been helpful if he’d at least put in a couple references to actual news organizations that have an agenda as well. The other day, he did note that The New Republic is a news organization, but in this example he’s comparing Fox to Joe’s Garage, the Democratic National Committee, and Scientologists, which is a very invidious, backhanded way of defending Fox News from a really shameful attack by a powerful government official. Fox is a lot closer to The New Republic than to the Scientologists when it comes to breaking stories. Indeed, if the standard is breaking news, than Fox is far more of a reliable and dedicated news organization than The New Republic (or National Review or Slate, for that matter).