Salon’s groundbreaking stories on the Ken Starr investigation challenge the conventional wisdom laid down by the mainstream media’s wolfpack mindset
This article appeared in the June 1998 issue of The American Journalism Review as a sidebar to Salon: The best zine on the Net?
By J.D. Lasica
For years, the mainstream media have taken shots at the Internet for allowing anyone to spread rumors, lies and conspiracy theories to a global audience of millions. But now the flip side of that equation is beginning to emerge: The Net is becoming an alternative channel for original, honest investigative journalism shut out of the mainstream press.
Salon’s coverage of the Clinton-Lewinsky matter — its first sustained foray into classic investigative journalism — has served as a counterweight to the mainstream news media’s wolfpack mindset. That contrarian approach earned it a swipe by Chris Bury of ABC’s “Nightline,” who suggested on the air in late February that Salon’s findings, which poke holes in the accounts of many of President Clinton’s accusers, were part of a “White House public relations” strategy.
Editor David Talbot bristles at that. “We are offering alternative news perspectives that you’re not reading in the New York Times and Washington Post on the Clinton scandals. Salon has been one of the few places to raise a dissenting voice to the conventional media wisdom laid down by the Post and the Times.”
Salon says it was the first news organization to report Linda Tripp’s connection to Lucianne Goldberg, beating the New York Times and other news publications that had the story the next morning. Salon was the first news outlet to report that a social-conservative organization in Southern California called Citizens for Honest Government with ties to the Rev. Jerry Falwell had been funneling money covertly to major witnesses and media sources in the Whitewater investigation.