More than ever this incident demonstrates that the old media is on its last legs and cannot survive. Woodward has clearly been lazy in the preparation of this piece. It seems apparent, particularly from the interview, that he did not do a stitch of original work in the writing of this piece; in his retirement he appears to have relied on his recollections and old notes to cobble something together. His appeals to “old Mormonism” seem a tacit admission to that very fact. Before new media, he could have gotten away with this, but no more.
In isolation, this piece would not seem so bad, but in the Internet age, no piece in a major newpaper exists in isolation. One of the more truly amazing things about this is that the newspaper that considers itself “American’s paper of record” is so far behind the curve here. Woodward’s piece is remarkably similar to the dozens of others we have seen and linked to on this blog over the last year. When everybody read just their local paper such pieces were not part of the news, but instead they were THE news, but now they simply have the appearance of piling on. The Old Grey Lady is reduced to attempting to have the final say instead of THE say.
In other words, the new media has exposed this latent bigotry in a new and vital way. What used to be “conventional wisdom” has in this case been exposed as collective ignorance, ala “refuse to acquaint oneself with the easily available facts” and bias. The key question is bias against what? Given Woodward’s history of Mormon bashing, it is hard to know for him specifically, but across the MSM it should be obvious. The bias is against conservatism far more than Mormonism, but they appear not afraid to use Romney’s faith as a tool in that effort.
The other thing that is apparent, particularly in the interview and Woodward’s appeal to “perception,” is that they want to make a case not only that Mormons are wierd, but that Evangelicals are bigots. They think they have a “twofer” on their hands. And here the new media really shines. They no longer can function as gatekeepers, and we can get the word out that their stereotypes of Mormons and Evangelicals is just wrong. The Old Grey Lady cannot even manage the final say. (emphasis added.)
The repetitious nature of the attacks on Romney’s LDS faith is having the very real effect of draining the issue of any real political force. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it all before” is a common refrain among Mormons when the latest anti-Mormon article appears, and now non-Mormon conservatives are getting to the same place…and noticing that the attempted big slams are coming from the left. How interesting.