By Doug Heye, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
In a meeting of New York conservative activists earlier this month, Andrew Breitbart received a raucous standing ovation for doing something many conservatives never dreamed possible. He beat The New York Times.
As video upon video were released showing ACORN employees eagerly helping two conservatives (Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe) set up prostitution as a legitimate business, file false tax statements, and engage in the trafficking of underage illegal immigrants, much of the major media remained silent.
For conservatives, the rationale was simple: The major media were uninterested in exposing an organization linked with President Barack Obama.
There may have been something else at play—snobbery. Large media organizations look down upon opinion news sites and blogs that are not their own, painting most conservative sites and talk shows with a broad brush as amateurish and full of crazy people with crazier ideas (read: dangerous). To an august newspaper as The New York Times, some You Tube videos on BigGovernment.com were not newsworthy and certainly not credible.
Thus the Times remained silent as the evidence of ACORN corruption continued to grow. Fifteen years ago, that would have been the end of the ACORN story. Smoking gun video, or not, if major media outlets ignored a story, it never happened.
Things have changed.
The creation of the Fox News Channel gave conservatives somewhere else to go other than the stone wall they faced at the three major networks, CNN, the Washington Post and New York Times. The "launch mentality" Roger Ailes has maintained at Fox, combined with sky-high ratings, means stories ignored in the past see the light of day.
The explosion of Internet reporting means that no story will necessarily be ignored even when a major news organization, at its own peril, does so.
Clark Boyd, Times public editor, said as much by writing in his column "Tuning In Too Late," that "The Times stood still," and "needs to be alert to [stories such as the ACORN story] or wind up looking clueless or, worse, partisan itself." This was further confirmed by the Times announcement of a new opinion media editor charged with focusing on cable news shows, political blogs, etc.
Breitbart's efforts—and the work of Giles and O'Keefe—in pushing the ACORN story as aggressively as most major media outlets ignored it, demonstrated both how the cards in a newsroom can be stacked and how the explosion of political blogs, opinion sites, viral video, and even Facebook status updates and Tweets (be they from the Left or the Right) has shuffled the deck.