Investigative reporting, after 9/11, is struggling to make a comeback. The intrusion of the CIA into news management has led to a retreat from hard-hitting news coverage in much of the mainstream media. Programs like 60 Minutes and 20/20 and reporters like Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann have kept the tradition alive.
It peaked in the mid-70s with journalists like Bernstein and Woodward, who brought down Richard Nixon, and whistleblowers like Daniel Ellsberg, who published the Pentagon Papers.
9/11 served as a pretext to attack it in the name of “national security.” In 2003, Dan Rather discussed how investigative journalism had suffered in the years after the attack on the World Trade Center.
Here is Keith Olbermann pushing back against the Bush administration:
One of the best investigative journalists, Seymour Hersh, in this video, says we could lose 70% of all the top editors in newspapers and television and we’d be better off. In a cabal-controlled society, he may not be far wrong.
Also cited as another factor in shedding expensive investigations is declining revenues due to the rise of the Internet, as the Washington Post’s Bob Bernstein and Bill Buzenberg from the Center for Public Policy discuss in this video.
I think (as Matthew said) the “slimmest sliver of a silver lining” to the oil spill will be what it will do to revive investigative journalism and end the embargo against truth.
The outrage that reporters like CNN’s Anderson Cooper and filmmakers like James Fox are feeling at the moment from being blacked out by companies like BP and other corporations and agencies will likely revive it. Thus, a tragedy like the oil spill may be responsible for a surge in reporting the truth.