Tapper misses the point

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

Jake Tapper Twitters a defense of the media's obsessive focus on unimportant fluff like Barack Obama giving the Queen an iPod:

for angry libs complaining about the iPod story: who do you think is sharing this info about the iPod? u think we broke into buckingham?

Presumably, Tapper means that the White House told reporters about the gift.

Uh ... So?

Either Tapper thinks the role of a journalist is to dutifully report whatever the administration wants him to report, or he thinks that liberal media critics want the media to dutifully report whatever the administration tells them.

Either way, he's wrong. The former is wrong for reasons that are (hopefully) self-explanatory. So let's give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume that Tapper means that he expects liberals to be happy that he's reporting something the Obama White House told him - and not that he personally thinks "the White House told me to" is a compelling reason to treat the iPod as the biggest news story in the world.

I can't speak for all "angry libs," but what Tapper seems not to understand is that few, if any, liberal media critics think the media should simply report anything handed to them on a presidential spoon - even if the president in question is a Democrat.

This attitude isn't unique to Tapper. I've seen more than a few journalists respond to criticism from progressives by saying something similar - that their report reflects what Democratic sources told them. That's a valid response when the criticism is that the report omitted a Democratic viewpoint. But when the criticism is that the report is false, or flawed in some other way, "hey, we're just reporting what Democrats tell us" isn't a meaningful defense.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.