Why are they to blame for the two Republican candidates and their current refusal to talk openly to reporters who don't work for Fox News or some other RNC-friendly outlet? Journalists are to blame because Sharron Angle in Nevada and Rand Paul in Kentucky are simply following Sarah Palin's strategy of stiffing the press; an insulting approach that journalists themselves let happen and, in a collective act of cowardice, refused to protest.
I've been writing about Palin's press boycott for months now, simply because we've never seen anything like this. We've never seen a high-profile politician categorically refuse to engage with serious, independent journalists. And we've certainly never seen a politician stiff the press and then have the press lay down in response. We've never seen the press so willingly get steam-rolled before. But with Palin and her news media boycott, that's exactly what's happened: Palin refuses to acknowledge their existence (except to ridicule it) and in return they fawn over her.
So why is anybody surprised that controversial senatorial candidates such as Angle and Paul, after having recently stepped in on the campaign trail, are now duplicating Palin's strategy and declining to talk to legitimate, non-partisan reporters? That's right, we now have two major party candidates running for state-wide office who pretty much won't answer questions from reporters.
This is beyond unprecedented. It's Bizarro World.
But guess what? It's the press' fault. They opened this door when Palin told them to buzz off. And rather than fighting back, rather than calling Palin out for this timidity and her refusal to have an honest exchange via public dialogue, reporters reduced themselves to typing up her Facebook posts as news and launching a Twitter beg-a-thon. (Boy, that'll show her!)
This election cycle it's Angle and Paul who have essentially opted out of the press pool. But next cycle we'll see more and more Republicans who decide they're also done talking to the press and will only sit down for Fox News and hold audience for the GOP Noise Machine. Obviously, the long-term implications for democracy here are alarming.
But again, this is all the press' fault. When confronted with Paliln's audacious blackout, journalists blinked.
UPDATED: A Las Vega television reporter had to follow Angle into a parking lot to try to get her to answer questions about her platform and previous statements. She then sat down for a 20-minute interview with a right-wing AM talker.