Examiner Leads Conservative Response to Liberal Blogosphere

David Weigel of the Washington Independent has a good article on the Washington Examiner‘s aggressive approach to investigative journalism. It begins:

For the first few years of George W. Bush’s presidency, Mark Tapscott was a journalist without a newsroom, shouting from the sidelines about his industry’s swift decline. Tapscott ran the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Media and Public Policy, and trained reporters in the use of technology for research and crunching numbers. When he considered how few conservatives, libertarians, or real skeptics of federal power were working in newsrooms, he saw a problem that was making the growth of government possible.

“The [Freedom of Information Act],” Tapscott wrote in a 2004 commentary, “has been subverted from its original intent – shining light in all corners of the federal establishment – and used instead by the bureaucrats, special interests and politicians who live off the Nanny State, especially those hiding behind closed doors in places like Health and Human Services, the Education Department and Housing and Urban Development.”

Sitting up straight in his office at the Washington Examiner, where Tapscott has been the editorial page editor for three years, he repeats the point. “There are 57 people in the Freedom of Information Hall of Fame,” he says. “Three of them are conservatives — two of them, if you don’t count me. Now, that’s a problem.”

Since its launch in 2005, the second daily metro newspaper owned by conservative billionaire Phillip Anschutz (the first was the San Francisco Examiner) has struggled for an identity in a city crawling with political journalists. But since the November 2008 election, the Examiner has beefed up its staff and pulled prominent right-leaning reporters and pundits away from publications like The American Spectator and National Review. Tapscott and a growing staff of political and opinion writers are carving out an identity as the conservative version of the left-leaning opinion and investigative journalism sites that — in the view of many conservatives — have used reporting to embarrass conservatives and the Republican Party. […]

The Washington Examiner now has a team of big names working for it including David Freddoso, J.P. Freire, Michael Barone, Kevin Mooney, and Byron York.

Weigel is an above-board guy (and the acknowledged king of trivia–if you’re competing on a trivia night team, get him on your team or you will lose) though his employer, the Washington Independent, I should note, is a left-leaning media outlet that is part of the Center for Independent Media, which has taken in at least $263,500 from far-left Tides Center and Tides Foundation in the last three years alone. The Center for Independent Media used to share office space with the sleazy character assassins at serial liar David Brock’s Media Matters for America. The two organizations also shared accounting firms too.

But not all parts of the left-leaning blogosphere are doing well. Some evidence suggests the Huffington Post Investigative Fund is struggling.

Meanwhile, we’ve had two articles out in recent months on the state of American journalism.

Tim Cavanaugh penned “Bailing Out the Press: Can Non-Profit Status Save American Newspapers?” Here’s a summary of the Foundation Watch article:

Could a bailout of the newspaper industry be on its way? A new Senate bill would offer financially struggling newspapers non-profit status in order to save investigative journalism. Critics say it probably won’t work, gives nonprofit media a tax advantage, could subject the free press to IRS oversight, and could open the door to more serious government interference in the media. But when has that ever stopped a crusading politician?

Before that Cheryl K. Chumley wrote “ProPublica: Investigative Journalism or Liberal Spin?” Here’s a summary of that Foundation Watch article:

The press is filled with sad stories about venerable for-profit newspapers that have been forced to declare bankruptcy and shut down. So it’s striking that the billionaire liberals Herb and Marion Sandler have decided now is the time to fund a new nonprofit group called ProPublica whose mission is to serve the public interest by funding independent investigative journalism. Too bad Pro Publica churns out little more than left-wing hit pieces about Sarah Palin and blames the U.S. government for giving out too little foreign aid.

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