The problem with mainstream news sources in America is not just that they're shitty, but that they're aggressively shitty. American newspapers and news television shows don't just ignore important stories or let important claims go unchecked, they intentionally ignore important stories to not anger their sources or harm their advertising, and rarely if ever question a politician or unnamed "official sources." Hell, just last week the public editor at the New York Times, the most prestigious and respected newspaper in our entire nation, wondered aloud if reporters should occasionally check if all of the random assertions important people are making are, you know, actually true or not.
Two good recent examples show this problem quite clearly. As Dan Savage pointed out his column last week, why is it that both Rick Santorum and his daughter are both allowed to continually claim they're not homophobic because they have gay friends? And that these mysterious unnamed gay friends support Santorum despite his repeatedly comparing them to pedophiles and dog rapists? As Savage points out, isn't an obvious follow-up question who exactly these gay friends are? Wouldn't that make for an interesting story about how these people don't exist, or if they do, how they pull off such torturous logic?
Or take another good/horrible example from the Joe Paterno case. In his first interview since the child sex scandal broke, Paterno claims he didn't know anything, but even if he did, he wouldn't have been able to understand it because he'd never heard of male rape. As Drew Magary points out in the piece linked to there, this is about as obvious and blatant a lie as someone can make. And yet the "journalist" interviewing him didn't think it was worth a follow up question of "are you fucking shitting me?!? You're trying to pretend you don't even know what rape is?!?" Hell, she clearly didn't think it was even worth a polite follow-up pointing out that the biological sex of the people involved doesn't really change what rape is, and surely a grown human being knows what rape is.
But even beyond the basic os journalism 101, these are a prime example of how the powerful are protected. Paterno never has to pay for his crimes because he can claim ignorance of something any adult human being clearly knows. Similarly, Santorum can hide his hate behind fictional gay friends he invented to make himself look like less of a biggot. And they know that the subservient "journalists" sent to interview them will never challenge these claims, no matter how obviously false they are to anyone with even the most basic ability to understand logic...