Glenn Greenwald has done a bang up job of exposing the cozy, compromising relationships that the elite press corps has developed with the very Washington DC politicians and insiders they are ostensibly supposed to be covering. In this era of blogging and open source media, the public doesn't necessarily have to seek political news and opinions from the old guard of mainstream media. The elites no longer have a monopoly on defining what is news and how the news ought to be interpreted. So they cling to the one thing that the bloggers will never be able to touch---their sources, connections, and inside contacts.
As a result we get travesties like the Joe Biden party where reporters engage in squirt gun fights with the Vice President and other White House staffers. You get Chris Wallace "interviewing" Dick Cheney without asking a single uncomfortable question about torture and waterboarding. You get Sarah Palin running for Vice President without having to endure a single unscripted press conference. The presentation of "news" becomes merely a propaganda show where journalists and reporters subserviently regurgitate what the politician wants them to say, unchallenged. Because if they don't, guess what? No more access! No more "private sit down" sessions with Mr. VIP! And so the journalist/reporter simply stops doing the job he/she was hired for, i.e. holding governmental persons in postions of power accountable. Getting at the truth isn't so important as maintaining an open relationship.
Similarly, in medicine we often compromise ourselves for nefarious purposes, especially financial. We bitch and moan about tort reform and the insidious malpractice situation but we refuse to hold one another accountable. When another doctor makes an error, no one says anything. It's "too awkward" to say anything or "it creates an antagonistic environment" will be the explanations you hear. And of course this is true to some extent. But a larger reason has to do with the way private practice is constructed. Referral patterns are based on relationships and habit. You refer to a certain surgeon because he seems nice and the patients like him. You refer to a certain endocrinologist because she went to your medical school. Rare does it have anything to do with the quality of care delivered. And as these referral patterns and relationships ossify, it becomes harder and harder to change them. One thing that will change a referral pattern mighty quick would be "tattling" on a referring doctor for providing substandard care. Or receiving a notice in the mail from your QA committee that another physician has submitted several examples of cases where you delayed an intervention.
We specialists don't want to disrupt our profitable and essential referral patterns. So we don't say anything when an internist puts a patient on full strength lovenox 24 hours after a colon surgery. At most we perhaps off-handedly mention to the physician that maybe it would be a better idea to allow the surgeon to decide when to re start anticoagulation. The GI doc doesn't report the surgeon who always calls him for his all too frequent post-lap chole bile leaks. We don't report the internist to QA who prescribes massive doses of IV steroids to a patient with a rash (probably from morphine reaction) who was admitted with diverticulitis, who then decompensates and becomes septic with peritonitis. We just kinda, sorta mention that altering the patient's immunity with corticosteroids maybe wasn't such a great idea. Or maybe we don't say anything at all. Because it would just create an awkward situation.