In setting up his question to Mehlman on Sunday, Russert said, "Let me turn to the now famous Downing Street memo" (emphasis added).
Famous? It would be famous in America if the D.C. press corps functioned the way it's supposed to.
The fact that it took five weeks for more than a handful of Washington reporters to focus on the memo highlights a striking disconnect between some news consumers and mainstream news producers. The memo story epitomizes a mainstream press corps that is genuinely afraid to ask tough questions and write tough stories about the Bush administration. Worse, in the case of the Downing Street memo, it simply refuses to report on the existence of a plainly newsworthy document.
"This is where all the work conservatives and the administration have done in terms of bullying the press, making it less willing to write confrontational pieces -- this is where it's paid off," says David Brock, CEO of Media Matters for America, a liberal media advocacy group. "It's a glaring example of omission."
Slowly, the Downing Street memo is getting that attention. "Stories are starting to trickle in now only because so many ordinary people are raising hell about it," says David Swanson, co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org, which launched on May 26. This week, thanks to constant exposure on the Air America radio network, the site is receiving 1.7 million hits a day, according to Swanson. "My colleagues are doing more radio shows than we can fit in during a day."
If the mainstream media showed little interest in the memo and its ramifications, those outside elite newsrooms did. On Tuesday, a query on the blog search engine Technorati retrieved 3,039 sites on which the Downing Street memo was being discussed.Looks like the ol' poultry truck is grabbin' a gear.
A related story about Step and Fetchit's response to questions.