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Thursday, October 11, 2007
Suddenly, NewsBusters Loves Tabloid Journalism
Topic: NewsBusters

NewsBusters used to hate tabloid journalism:

  • "Tim Graham pointed out to me that CNN had a real attachment to the word ‘lurid’ yesterday [regarding Mark Foley's emails]. As disturbing as this story is, do we need to use tabloid adjectives? If they are going to treat the story like that, why not follow it with pieces on the latest Hollywood scandal or alien abduction? They would do their counterparts at the National Enquirer proud." -- Michelle Humphrey, Oct. 4, 2006
  • "ABC pounded the word "tabloid" in all of their coverage [of Dick Morris' relationship with a prostitute in 1996]. ... But now ABC is the 'tabloid' outlet on the ['D.C. Madam'] Call Girl beat." -- Tim Graham, April 30
  • "Will ABC News admit it was not only misinformed on an easily checked issue, but acted with tabloid journalism to boot?" -- Warner Todd Huston, April 21

But now that a tabloid is reporting something NewsBusters wants to hear, they want more. An Oct. 10 post by Jason Aslinger happily reports that "Ann Coulter did her best to drop a bomb on the October 10 episode of 'Tucker' " by repeating a National Enquirer claim that "John Edwards had an 18-month affair while on the campaign trail." While Aslinger does note that "this allegation must be met with a healthy degree of skepticism," he nevertheless demands that the media cover it anyway:

So now we have a tabloid allegation of marital infidelity by a presidential candidate. And the allegation has been repeated by Ann Coulter on MSNBC - so it's not as if it can be completely ignored at this point.


It is not unprecedented for the press to cover a sex scandal involving a Democratic candidate for presdient. Going way back in time, Senator Gary Hart ruined his presidential chances with an extramarital affair, which received plenty of press coverage at the time.

In this case, though, the question has to be asked: will the mainstream media pursue this allegation at all? If the media is to be consistent in its energized pursuit of sex scandals involving politicians, then it will be beating down doors to either confirm of refute this allegation. But will they? The first thought is that the media would be inclined to ignore the allegation, but the potential boost to the Clinton campaign might give the mainstream media a reason for following this storyline. Time will tell.

In other words, NewsBusters was against tabloid journalism before it was for it.

The more interesting question, though, is this: Will the rest of the ConWeb -- which has either embraced or denounced the tabloids as it suited their agenda -- pick up on the claim? NewsMax in particular has had a flip-flopping relationship with tabloids.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:37 PM EDT

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