Sunday, October 19, 2008

Simple Answers to Simple Questions, L'il Debbie Edition

Deborah Howell, the WaPo Apologist, asks:
But then along comes a financial crisis, and where besides major newspapers and their Web sites can readers get authoritative coverage of what is engulfing us?
The answer would be: blogs.

I hate to tell you, Debbie, but until just this past week, when the WaPo finally published a fairly comprehensive explanation of the current financial meltdown, it had been MIA in that department. (I'd made my feelings known to Howell via email and phone messages.)

Unfortunately, this came two weeks after the final Congressional votes on the bailout.

At the time that Congress was considering the different bailout packages, the WaPo was completely useless. It took the position that we should hand over a rather astronomical sum of money to the Serious People to give to the Big Non-Banks, and anyone who objected was wrongheaded. Our comprehension wasn't required, only our checkbook.

What understanding of the crisis I had was gleaned entirely from blogs: from DeLong and Krugman, from Atrios and Calculated Risk. It helped that Brad DeLong had been writing about the housing bubble for years, and that Atrios had been writing about the Big Shitpile of toxic securities since sometime last year. (I'd love to know when he first used the term.)

The truth is, whenever a newsworthy issue could use a bit of intelligent analysis, I turn to blogs, not newspapers. What newspaper has explained the problems with our current healthcare system, the impact of the various candidates' proposals, and what other countries are doing, nearly as well as Ezra Klein has done all by himself?

During the past week or so, as McCain and the wingnuts have been trying to make an issue of ACORN, who has done a better job of explaining the facts than TPM? (And who was on the closely related story of the U.S. Attorney firings back at the beginning of 2007, when the WaPo and most of the major media outlets were saying there was no story there?)

As gasoline prices continue to fluctuate wildly, where are the media outlets that have had a decent discussion of the potential benefits of improved mass transit, and the roadblocks to those benefits (like parking requirements) like I've been reading over the past few months at Matt Yglesias' and Ryan Avent's and Atrios' and Ezra's blogs?

Blogs have been stepping up on all of these issues, and on many more, while our 'elite' newspapers have been dropping the ball.


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