One reason (one!) the Lott story almost died was that Washington is in many ways a very small town -- that is, a place where reporters, politicians and lobbyists are both friends and adversaries; where a strong "don't rock the boat" ethic sometimes prevails; and where the big division is often the gap between the permanent establishment and everyone else.(That was Tapped, by the way, not IP. Yeah, this is pretty meta.) Somerby responds:
Why did the corps go slow on Lott? TAPPED endorses Instapundit, who says it shows that everyone is too buddy-buddy inside Washington. Amazingly, it doesn’t even occur to TAPPED that the press tends to bow to conservative power, especially when "dirty secret" segregation groups are involved. Does TAPPED’S buddy-buddy theory make sense? For example, did the corps ignore the Georgia flag flap because it was just so chummy with Peach State participants? Plainly, that story did not involve an insider class -- but the pundit corps punted there, too. Pathetic, isn’t it? In citing Insta, TAPPED recites Andrew Sullivan’s line (Insta voiced it first)...Sully says that “DC socialization” explains the pundit corps’ lazy response. Thank goodness! This way, he doesn’t have to voice an unwelcome thought. He doesn’t have to say that Washington’s pundits may not be so liberal after all. This view makes perfect sense -- from Sullivan. But TAPPED buys it hook, line and sinker. Readers, where oh where is liberal bias? We suffer from such a brainwashed insider clique that even liberals can’t seem to imagine that the pundit corps bows to con power.Tapped calls this a "mush of twisted logic and impenetrable non sequiturs", arguing that the idea that they're bowing to conservative power is "deranged".
C'mon. I'm sure there's points to both of these, but I think Tapped did Somerby a disservice. It's pretty obvious by now that for various reasons (fear of losing access to the White House, desire to keep the neo-cons onside instead of attacking you, worries about the supposed ratings powers of conservatives) the press has been playing softball with conservatives for a while now, up to and including the nastier racist aspects of the Republican party. That's really the crux of this whole story. While I can understand Tapped's desire to find a more comfortable and less damning reason for this and the attractiveness of the "it's washington culture" argument, Somerby has a point- the press isn't liberal, has never really been, and is becoming less so by the day. To ignore that is to ignore the real picture, one that asides about cliqueishness serve only to distort. Whether it is (as Tapped says) a "liberal complaint, not a conservative one" or not.
Besides, this sort of thing plays into the hands of conservatives who are always whining about how bad Washington is and how they'll "clean up that town". Nobody's interests are served by perpetuating that sort of pablum.