This will not get enough attention, but the source pollution problem at the New York Times, as Cholly Pierce so precisely put it, is a devious issue of national proportions:
As is now obvious, somebody fed the paper bad information on San Bernardino murderess Tashfeen Malik’s social media habits. It was said that she was posting jihadist screeds on Facebook. The Times hyped the scoop by stating pretty clearly that the government—and the administration running it—slipped up. It was the inspiration for endless bloviating about how “political correctness is killing people” at Tuesday night’s Republican debate. Then comes FBI director James Comey to say that, no, there were no public Facebook posts that the government missed because there weren’t any at all.
More than a few people have noted that two of the three reporters who were fed this story also had their bylines on the notorious (and thoroughly debunked) piece about how the FBI had launched a “criminal inquiry” into Hillary Rodham Clinton’s alleged mishandling of classified materials in her e-mails.
Of the Clinton emails non-story, she wasn’t a target, it wasn’t a criminal referral and the emails weren’t classified. Other than that, great story! And the thing is, even pointing out this makes one sound like an HRC apologist, but nevermind.
The broader issue is, this is the problem if we’re only going to allow ourselves one national paper. The purchase of the major Las Vegas daily by its hometown casino magnate-cum-Republican kingmaker is further symptomatic of this self-replicating double-bind. The news as business, scandal as profit generator, reporters trained in the finer arts of the same and quaint rules of journalism secure under glass at the few J-schools left all equal an untenable republic. Remember: No Checks = No Balances.