Amid all the media fanfare during the run-up to the recent special election in California’s 50th congressional district, there is also a marvelous case of mainstream media omission. Here is a snippet from an LA Times story on the election:
Some analysts blamed Busby's loss on a gaffe during the campaign's final days, when at a rally she seemed to be encouraging illegal immigrants to vote. Before her comments, GOP officials in Washington were increasingly concerned about the outcome. But after Busby's comments Thursday night, momentum in the race switched.
So exactly when did the LA Times first report on this critical gaffe that occurred on June 1? The LA Times first mentioned it in the above story on June 8 – an entire week after it occurred and only after the election. The LA Times broke the news delicately to its readers without repeating the offensive text of the gaffe ("You don't need papers for voting.").
Of course if you wanted news of the Busby gaffe before the election, it was available in some places. The San Diego Union Tribune did have a story covering it before the election. Hugh Hewitt had it. Power Line blog had the audio recording, and the story reached the zenith of the blogosphere, Instapundit, on June 4. But the crucial words were deemed unworthy to be printed by newspapers such as the LA Times and the New York Times…until after the election. This media behavior reminds me very much of the 17 days in 2004 when the charges of the Swift Boat veterans were also unmentionable in the MSM, even though in retrospect both presidential campaign managers agreed that these charges represented the most crucial juncture of the campaign.
There should be a special term to describe this media behavior. So here is a proposed definition:
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Swift Boat Hush (n.) – A behavior of the mainstream media during an election campaign characterized by a period of widespread silence concerning a news story that is severely embarrassing to a liberal candidate. The silence ends when it no longer shields the candidate from damage.