Another reporter responds to the Daou Challenge as well as to the previous post about it:
I think [Daou is] absolutely right about storylines. (I hadn't seen that post until just now.) I think a number of things are at play here: The dominance of TV, especially the 24-hour networks; the reliance on punditry rather than objective analysis by such networks (and other sources); the nature of neoconservatism, which favors the sort of hypersimplistic, slogan-based worldview that's so easily digestible by reporters and anchors, not to mention the public, compared to liberals' more nuanced worldviews; the fact that Americans, by and large, ain't real smart; the fact that many reporters, especially on TV, are lazy or incompetent or both; and the fact that the administration and their propaganda ministers at Fox and on radio tend to set the approved script for a given incident early, so that everything that follows runs smack into the "received wisdom." The Cheney shooting story's a good example. And right-wing media can do it with zest because they don't have to worry about balance, fairness or nuance. The Cheney shooting story isn't the story; the story is the press daring to question his character during what must have been a terrible day for him, bless his heart. The proposed port deal with the UAE -- A NATION WITH ESTABLISHED TIES TO AL-QAIDA RUNNING A PRIME GATEWAY FOR WEAPONS -- isn't the story; the story is those duplicitous, hysterical Democrats, yet again playing politics by opposing the deal to make themselves look strong on defense in order to conceal their weakness on defense in the past. The key is staying on message and delivering a simple, consistent, easily digestible meme you can return to again and again. Democrats have trouble doing that; I'm still not sure why.
I also think you're right: The administration intimidates the shit out of the Times and Post and others.
Of course, for all our chatter about bias and storylines and narratives and journalistic negligence, what's even more frustrating is what comes out but doesn't stick. CNN has run an hour-long special report that lays out thoroughly how the Administration cherry-picked intelligence to lead us into war with Iraq. It's impeccably sourced, well-done, incontrovertible. And yet no one seems to care enough.
[The reporter from the previous WPC post] alluded to something that's true. If media are biased toward anything, it's toward making money, like any other business. Fewer owners and larger conglomerates mean less independence, more pressure on newsrooms and the increasing ability of government to intimidate media outlets into complicity and silence. The people who run these corporations don't have Che posters on their office walls, I can assure you.