But a June report by the Government Accountability Office failed to sound the alarm, noting dryly: “Much progress has been made, but much remains to be accomplished within a relatively short amount of time”—and the coverage of it was accordingly muted. POLITICO did note that “IT could end up being health reform’s highest hurdle.” The Washington Post, in August, and the New York Times, in late September, highlighted problems with the state exchanges, but not the more serious internal concerns about HealthCare.gov. Overall, the press was not very prescient, not just about the ACA’s looming tech problems, but also in informing readers and viewers about this admittedly complicated bill’s downstream consequences.
POLITICO inadvertently highlights the primary reason the mainstream media is so lousy at actually reporting news: Even under administrations with which it disagrees ideologically, it tends to take government statements as being the gold standard.
Thus they will report something or other as being “unconfirmed,” unless or until some government spokesman or handout “confirms” the item. That’s all it takes, a mere statement. No need to check further, because, after all, it is a government confirmation. As if governments never, ever lie.
Oh, sure, if we are talking about an issue in which the media disagrees with a government, say, during a GOP scandal, then every word coming from the government will be carefully vetted and checked to a fare-thee-well. Otherwise, the government says the unemployment rate dropped by some huge percentage for no discernible reason? No need to check. Good as gold. Because government.
Until the MSM starts checking all government statements, even from politicians, agencies, and administrations of which it approves, starting with the assumption that those statements are not only not confirmations, but may be outright lies, will we begin to see real news reporting.
Which probably means not in our lifetimes.