U.S. media have lost the will to dig deep

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September 26, 2012 by newsgetting

In an e-mail uncovered and released by the House Judiciary Committee last month, Tim Griffin, once Karl Rove’s right-hand man, gloated that “no [U.S.] national press picked up” a BBC Television story reporting that the Rove team had developed an elaborate scheme to challenge the votes of thousands of African Americans in the 2004 election. Griffin wasn’t exactly right. The Los Angeles Times did run a follow-up article. But … most of the major U.S. newspapers and the vast majority of television news programs ignored the story even though it came at a critical moment just weeks before the election. In fact, not one U.S. newsperson even bothered to ask me or the BBC for the data and research we had painstakingly done. The truth is, I knew that a story like this one would never be reported in my own country [the U.S.], because investigative reporting … is dying. Again and again, I see this pattern repeated. Back in December 2000, I received two computer disks from the office of Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris. Analysis of the data … indicated that Harris’ office had purged thousands of African Americans from Florida’s voter rolls as “felons.” Florida now admits that many of these voters were not in fact felons. Nevertheless, the blacklisting helped cost Al Gore the White House. I reported on the phony felon purge in Britain’s Guardian and Observer and on the BBC while Gore was still in the race, while the count was still on. Yet the story of the Florida purge never appeared in the U.S. daily papers or on television … until months later, that is, after the Supreme Court had decided the election.

By Greg Palast (BBC reporter)

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