Thursday, January 02, 2003

The dot-com dupes of the media. Another year has passed, and if you're like most people, your stock portfolio is considerably lighter today than it was a year ago -- a moment when most of us were hoping the market had already reached rock bottom.

On the op-ed page of today's New York Times, James Ledbetter, a former media critic for the Village Voice and a staff reporter for the late, unlamented Industry Standard, offers a smart mea culpa on the business press's role in helping to create the great stock-market bubble of the late 1990s.

Good reading, if you can stand it.

The problem, as always, is that the media's most primal instinct is to act as lapdogs to winners. Yesterday it was the dot-com smartasses. Today it's George W. Bush and the Republican Party.

Back in the heyday of Enron, WorldCom, and AOL, we needed skepticism and we got cheerleading. Now we're on the verge of a war that may prove to be unnecessary, with the devastating, unanticipated consequences that war often brings. And the media, with few exceptions, are failing to ask the tough questions.

Some things never change.

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