Who Exactly Are The “Mainstream Media”?

Reporting on the Kevin McCarthy story.

From Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz’s Facbook Page, Oct. 12, 2015.

Overall, I’m with Fox News’ Howard Kurtz on this one.  I’m not sure how appropriate it was to report on the rumors of an affair by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.  On one hand, there were a lot of questions raised late last week as to why McCarthy had pulled out of a seemingly sure-thing race to be Speaker of the House.  On the other hand, other than rumors, there’s absolutely no concrete evidence that McCarthy has ever engaged in inappropriate extra-marital behavior. On the third hand, there’s lots of evidence that only a crazy person would want to be Speaker of the House right now.

But that’s not what’s grabbing my attention with Kurtz’s Facebook post.  In it, he asks the question:

“Why the mainstream media helped spread the Kevin McCarthy affair rumors — because they were ‘out there'”

I’m wondering what Kurtz means by “the mainstream media”? (Remembering of course that Secret 2 says “There’s no such thing as the mainstream media.”)

In his story, Kurtz notes that the story of McCarthy’s alleged affair first broke on the conservative political rumor site GotNews.  Then the rumors were passed on by Erick Erickson, who founded the popular conservative web site Red State.

The rumor then moved to a column by conservative columnist Matt Lewis at The Week and to his Daily Caller blog.

The story then jumped the ideological fire line over to the liberal-leaning Huffington Post web site.

And, finally, the story shows up in a Howard Kurtz story on Fox News.

Now, as someone who no longer believes that “the mainstream media” is nothing more than a boogie man to describe media you don’t like, I’m not the best person to analyze this, but let’s try anyway.

Generally, mainstream media means the big, legacy corporate media.   Reading through Kurtz’s story, Fox News is the only one of the media outlets mentioned that could be considered mainstream, with the possible exception of The Week magazine.  I’m not saying that legacy media haven’t covered this story, but I would argue that this has been much more of an online story.  And I would further argue that all of the origins of this story come from conservative media.

Overall, I’ve like Howard Kurtz’s work for a long time – especially back when he worked for the Washington Post.  But I have to say I’m not particularly impressed with this story.  There’s a real story here, but I don’t see much about the mainstream media in it.

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