media discrediting the media, helping undo its own independence
It doesn't seem to matter that what Newsweek reported is quite probably true---no one seems to deny that there are reports of the holy toiletizing, and that it's under investigation. The "gotcha!" of their saying it was confirmed by military investigation & using only one unnamed (and previously reliable) source who later took it back (sort of) is only half of the attack; the other half is that rioting in Afghanistan and Pakistan is supposedly attributable to just this story, nothing else. None of the rest of the reporting of abuses at Gitmo. We don't question the part of the media that's telling us the media is to blame for that rioting, you know? It seems (in the mass media) not to matter that the larger question is what the hell we've come to to allow practices like indefinite detention on the government's word with fuzzy lines about torture. Oh, an introductory remark or aside may mention the fundamental content at hand, but in most places the story is how the press messed up, and that's why them A-rabs hate us.
Who remembers that CBS had the secretary who'd typed memos almost exactly like those forged versions they'd used (been duped to use?) as a source proclaim without a doubt that their content was an accurate representation of the content she'd typed? Why does it not matter that Dubya DID get special treatment in the Guard, and that the substance of what the story was about is true?
I'm not saying journalism doesn't have a serious responsibility to get the story right if it wants to maintain credibility. I'm just saying that what we really ought to be noticing about the media is how it's participating in its own reigning in by government in these particular types of cases of its new acquiescence, the willingness---near eagerness---to help focus the audience on what the Bushies want us to focus on.
Having to hear Rumsfeld bemoan loss of life as part of this boon to facism nearly made me lose my lunch.