In theory, the national news media function in a free market of ideas: a self-regulating, relentless quest for what the old Superman comics called “Truth, Justice, and the American way.” (Actually, Clark Kent’s newspaper-reporter disguise strikes contemporary audiences as a sentimental anachronism. Today, he’d be a rogue cop or a CIA operative.)
In practice, Washington political journalism has become a subdivision of the entertainment industry: its best-known practitioners are second- and third-tier TV stars, and news itself a form of politicized “infotainment.” Even lowly print reporters and pundits can greatly improve their incomes by appearing on programs like “Hardball” and copping an attitude.
Chasing audiences and advertising dollars, corporate media seek to tell target demographics the kinds of stories those audiences want to hear. Nobody who watched CNN cove
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