As the Wall Street Journal's D.C. bureau continues to morph into a joke

It's pretty much what critics feared would happen under the ownership of Rupert Murdoch: The paper's proud tradition of straight news would be compromised. And it has been. The purposeful dumbing down that's taken place inside the Journal newsroom has been sweeping.

Just take a look at this painfully dumb (and GOP-friendly) story by Amy Schatz from today's news section headlined, “FCC Official Comes Under Fire for Past Statements.”

The lede:

New Federal Communications Commission chief Julius Genachowski says he wants to promote diversity in media ownership, but his recent decision to hire Mark Lloyd, a civil-rights attorney critical of corporate-owned media, to help with that effort has riled some talk-radio hosts who fear the agency is planning to go after them.

To call this a non-story would be polite. Some right-wing radio nuts are returning to the Fairness Doctrine fever swamp, claiming Democrats and government bogymen like Lloyd are out to silence them (the nuts have zero proof, as usual), and the Journal treats it as news.

Worse, the Journal pretends there's some sort of “uproar” over the hiring of Lloyd, a mid-level staff attorney who sets no policy. Here, dear readers, is the entire proof provided by the Journal of the “uproar” [emphasis added]:

The administration “is trying to stifle dissenting voices,” said radio host Rush Limbaugh, discussing Mr. Lloyd with Fox News host Glenn Beck last month. (Fox News is owned by News Corp., which owns The Wall Street Journal.)

“He doesn't like corporate ownership of media,” said Seton Motley, communications director of the Media Research Center, a conservative interest group that has been critical of Mr. Lloyd. “He wants to use the vast power of the FCC to hammerlock the radio industry.”

Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley in a letter last month to Mr. Genachowski said that “given the appointment of Mr. Lloyd,” he was concerned that the FCC chairman was moving away from pledges not to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, a policy abandoned in 1987 that required licensed broadcasters to give equal time to differing political views.

Honestly, if Journal editors now consider hanging on every nutty word uttered by Rush Limbaugh, and monitoring every pointless press release issued by the Media Research Center is news, than the newsroom's more lost than I feared. If Journal editors and reporters really think that every time there's an “outcry among conservative commentators,” that the newspaper needs to immediately document the faux scandal, than the paper's become a lost cause.

But oh well, I'm sure Rupert's happy. And that's what now counts at the Journal, right?

UPDATED: Just how bad is the Journal's reporting? In the last two days, the Journal has published two stand-alone articles about Rep. Joe Wilson's “You lie!” outburst. In neither article did the Journal ever point out that Wilson's hysterical outburst about health care reform and illegal immigrants was baseless; that Wilson himself lied.