By MARC MCDONALD
Despite determined efforts, the U.S. mainstream media has failed in its bid to bury the snowballing Downing Street Memo story.
The U.S. mainstream media has long been careful to treat the Bush Administration with kid gloves. Any stories that could be potentially harmful to Bush have been carefully quashed, from the Bush/cocaine story, all the way up to the Jeff Gannon bombshell.
This pro-GOP bias is, of course, nothing new in the corporate media. I mean, how many people recall that it was not the U.S. media that broke the story of 1985 Iran-Contra affair, but rather a Lebanese magazine, Ash-Shiraa?
Similarly, it was overseas media that broke the Downing Street Memo story. The story, which created a firestorm of controversy in Europe, has been pretty much ignored by the U.S. press.
But there's a silver lining to this story. A funny thing happened on the way to the U.S. media giving this story the kiss of death and carefully burying it deep inside the paper.
As it turns out, the Downing Street Memo story has legs. And, even with the mainstream media doing its utmost to kill the story, Downing Street continues to pick up steam. The mainstream press continues to try to convince us all that the "real news" is what happened today in the Michael Jackson trial---and is finding out that nobody cares.
The thousands of independent voices on the Web and an army of progressive bloggers is working to make sure Downing Street gets the light of day that it deserves.
As recently as 10 years ago, the U.S. press could have successfully buried a story like this. But today's news is no longer determined by what an editorial meeting at The New York Times deems worthy enough of including on Page One.
Increasingly, the mainstream U.S. press is facing the prospect of becoming irrelevant. After all, Big Media no longer gets to decide what today's most important stories are. Today, stories can become huge and get widespread exposure----and yet be completely ignored by the mainstream press.
The maintream media, in fact, is in perhaps the biggest crisis in its history. Its credibility is in tatters (as evidenced by a recent poll that shows that Americans, by a 3-to-1 majority) do not trust the press.
In the pre-Internet age, if Americans were fed up with what the media was serving them, alternatives were non-existent. Today, though, there are a gigantic number of alternative voices out there in cyberspace. If The New York Times or the Washington Post can no longer be relied upon to cover an important story, then the likes of the London Times or the Manchester Guardian are simply a click away on the Web.
The era of Big Media is clearly over in the U.S. For a start, the mainstream media's business is in a fiscal crisis these days. Circulation figures are plummeting for the nation's top newspapers. And ratings for the likes of CNN and Fox are in freefall.
It's clear that Big Media brought its current crisis upon itself. The corporate mainstream press has been cutting budgets for news gathering operations for years. Increasingly, Big Media has relied on cheap-and-easy-to-cover sleaze and sensationalism to fill its pages. But the American public is no longer buying it.