Mea cupla is a Latin phrase that translates into English as "my fault", or "my own fault".
This isn't about John Edwards (you are welcome) although it his scandal that has MSM opinion editorial writers crediting citizen journalists and kicked off the beginning of the mea culpas from the mainstream media.
Long long story short about John Edwards because it has been covered every which way from Sunday and this article is not about him, but what his scandal has shown members of the mainstream media (MSM). He had an affair, the National Enquirer reported it, the story was ignored by the MSM, the Enquirer followed up, provided enough proof and detail to finally get noticed, and Edwards was forced to admit the truth.
Told you I was making a long story short. Enough about Edwards, this is about the media.
The media on the other hand is busy explaining to their readers why they did not bother to investigate a story of major importance when Edwards was campaigning to become the President of the United States of America.
Media irresponsibility is being acknowledged from some unlikely quarters..... the media themselves in their opinion sections.
It bears noting here that two media outlets showed responsibility here, one being Fox News that did some legwork and confirmed portions of the National Enquirer story and ABC, while not reporting on the matter, was working behind the scenes and actually investigating until they confirmed enough to confront Edwards on it, leading to his public confession.
Starting with the LA Times writer Tim Rutten who produces the harshest column yet entitled "Old media dethroned", with his sub headline describing the content of the article spectacularly, stating "Edwards' admission signals the end of the era in which traditional media set the limits of acceptable political journalism."
Rutten describes how Edwards' confession "ratified an end to the era in which traditional media set the agenda for national political journalism."
He goes on to point out that it was the National Enquirer that did the work and it was Citizen journalists aka bloggers and online commentators, that refused to allow the MSM to sweep the story under the rug.
Slate's Mickey Kaus has been foremost among the latter, alternately analyzing and speculating on the Enquirer's reporting and ridiculing the mainstream media for a fastidiousness that has seemed, from the start, wholly absurd. Like other commentators, he repeatedly alleged that a double standard that favored Democrats applied to the story. Like the Enquirer's reporting, the special-treatment charge is largely true, as anyone who recalls the media frenzy over conservative commentator and former Cabinet secretary William Bennett's high-stakes gambling would agree.
He shows that when the story first broke there was a "cone of silence", then when further details emerged, still no reporting, no investigating and not a peep from traditional media.
Rutten continues to flay the MSM stating that bloggers and online commentators redoubled their demands for the MSM to explain their silence.
As pressure mounted on major newspapers to take some aspect of the unfolding scandal into account, editors and ombudsmen issued statements saying it would be unfair to publish anything until the Enquirer's stories had been "confirmed."
Well, there's confirming and then there's confirming. One sort occurs when an editor mutters, "Find somebody and have them make a few calls." Then there's the sort that comes when that editor summons an investigative reporter with a heart like ice and a mind like Torquemada's and says, "Follow this wherever it goes and peel this guy like an onion."
Suffice to say that the follow-up of the Enquirer's story fell into the former category in too many newsrooms, including that of The Times.
Rutten concludes that with Edwards' confession fell the "illusion that traditional print and broadcast news organizations can establish the limits of acceptable political journalism joined the passenger pigeon on the roster of extinct Americana."
The LA Times is not the only one issuing their own mea culpas and using their opinion section to do so, the New York Times public editor, Clark Hoyt, while denying that media bias was the reason, also takes the Times to the woodshed on their refusal to follow up and investigate.
Hoyt's pieces is entitled "Sometimes, There’s News in the Gutter" and he comes straight to the point in his first paragraph by saying, "The Times and most of the mainstream media seemed to be studiously ignoring a story of sex and betrayal involving a former Democratic presidential candidate who remains prominent on the political stage."
He admits outright that the Times never made an effort to investigate the story.
Hoyt points to one email received approving of the Times ignoring the story then he recounts the theme of what all the rest entailed.
But everyone else I heard from over the past several weeks was either puzzled or outraged that the newspaper, which carried front-page allegations of a John McCain affair, was ignoring the relationship between Edwards and Hunter. John Boyle of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., said, “I hope you will find the time to tell me why this news story is not reported by your paper.” Some readers, like Bert A. Getz Jr. of Winnetka, Ill., were sure they already knew the answer: liberal bias.
Hoyt denies that bias was the reason behind their silence and argues that the Times, like all other mainstream media were "too squeamish" about reporting on it and they did not want to regurgitate the Enquirers story without verifications.
Makes sense, but then he goes on to say the Times did not even attempt to verify it at all which he calls "wrong".
Hoyt also gives a valid reason for why this is public fodder by using John Edwards' own words spoken to Katie Couric on “60 Minutes” early last year, where Edwards said, "I think every single candidate for president, Republican and Democratic, have lives, personal lives, that indicate something about what kind of human being they are. And I think it is a fair evaluation ... to look at what kind of human beings each of us are.”
He points out the excuses that were given about the Times silence and their justification for reporting rumor about a McCain affair, saying he would personally would not have reported that either because they "did not convincingly establish its truth" and makes the point that if they went after one of those two stories, they should have pursued them both.
Two examples of how the traditional media is being taken to the woodshed by their own opinion editorial writers as they are still receiving complaints about their lack of investigation into a story, especially when it first broke last October, when Edwards was campaigning for presidency and more recently as his name has been speculated as a possible vice presidential candidate as well as reports about him possibly being offered a position in a potential Obama cabinet.
Some are even saying it is good to see that citizen journalists, bloggers and online commentators are receiving credit for pushing the traditional media into doing their jobs.