Thursday, December 03, 2009

The old and the new

John Nolte, editor-in-chief of Big Hollywood, shares some thoughts on the state of the mainstream media:

Yesterday, Washington Post columnist and former Bush II speechwriter Michael Gerson played a long slow violin solo over the death of the mainstream media. There’s nothing new in his piece. Dazed with panic as the circle of financial ruin closes in, we’ve heard this song many times before from our ink-stained dinosaurs. And true to form, Gerson can’t break the mold. It’s all there, the rose-colored glasses, denial, and a heaping helping of rationalization.

Once again, from that familiar MSM perch where one can look down their nose at the great unwashed who just don’t understand the magnificent tradition of journalism they’re about to lose, Gerson blames We the People for no longer wanting to pay for our news and choosing partisan sources “that reinforce and exaggerate … political predispositions.”

How absurd.

A non-partisan, unbiased news media simply doesn’t exist anymore. All that remains of this once somewhat respectable profession are two kinds of media: those who lie about their agenda and those who don’t – and Mr. Gerson’s employer is one of the liars. Whether it’s Glenn Beck, Arianna Huffington, National Review or MSNBC, tell me your biases upfront and we can at least start a dialogue from an honest foundation. On the other hand, the Washington Post, New York Times, Newsweek, Time, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS and the like, have spent years making jerks out of us – lying to our faces. We knew this, there just wasn’t any alternative. But now that there is, their time is just about up.

Gerson doesn’t seem to want to face this truth – I don’t mean the truth that Big Media’s dying, that’s undeniable — but the truth that the death of this profession was a suicide. Does Gerson’s waxing of the nostalgic here sound like the MSM we’ve all grown to know and loathe:

I don’t believe that journalistic objectivity is a fraud. I was a journalist for a time, at a once-great, now-diminished newsmagazine. I’ve seen good men and women work according to a set of professional standards I respect — standards that serve the public. Professional journalism is not like the buggy-whip industry, outdated by economic progress, to be mourned but not missed. This profession has a social value that is currently not reflected in its market value.

What profession could he possibly be talking about? Certainly not the same profession who set out to destroy Clarence Thomas, circled the wagons to save President Clinton, summoned all their resources to lose the war in Iraq, told us more about the background of an unemployed plumber than our current President, dragged Sarah Palin’s family through the mud, and on this very day refuse to investigate three of the biggest stories of the year (if not the decade): ACORN, CzarGate and ClimateGate.

And yet in the face of all this, Gerson writes of we bloggers:

And the whole system is based on a kind of intellectual theft. Internet aggregators (who link to news they don’t produce) and bloggers would have little to collect or comment upon without the costly enterprise of newsgathering and investigative reporting. The old-media dinosaurs remain the basis for the entire media food chain.

Foul on the play. That might have been true a few years ago, but since the whole of the MSM put their blinders on and jumped in the tank for President Bows-A –Lot, it’s been the MSM following the lead of the Internet and cable news. Time and again, like Sergeant “I know nothing!” Schultz, they’ve been caught off guard and found guilty of their own kind of “intellectual theft” as they grudgingly report on Dan Rather’s forged documents, Van Jones’ resignation, the Tea Party movement, and the latest ACORN developments.

The shift towards online investigative journalism has only begun and look at the impact already. And maybe, just maybe, had our ink-stained dinosaurs picked up on and owned these stories they might have, I don’t know, sold more ink?

Blaming the death of Big Media on cable news and the Internet is ridiculous. Blaming everyday Americans who have simply grown tired of paying for the privilege of being lied to is insulting.

When there was no competition, hiding behind objectivity while openly playing press agent for leftist causes and politicians was simply the whoring out of credibility. But now that alternatives exist it’s a kamikaze mission – a Big Media suicide.

May they rest in Hell.

And to add a bit of support to his argument here is part of an article from The Telegraph. I find the title of this piece especially amusing:

East Anglia CRU: welcome to the Piltdown Institute of Mann-made Global Warming

Here is the bit that is relevent to our current discussion:

But the startling development is that, slowly, inch by inch, the mainstream media in America are being forced to address Climategate. Even ABC has now run an even-handed debate on the revelations. One of the causes of this new realism, after 12 days, has been the number of senior scientists breaking ranks to denounce the scandal and express reservations about AGW. The comic singers at East Anglia made a fetish of “peer review”: they should see some of the reviews their activities are now receiving from their peers in America.

You see way back in the beginning of this whole "Internet thing" it was true that most of what bloggers and did was locate and link to and/or comment on things published by "Big Media". A lot of that still goes on and it very badly needs to go on. As one blogger observed a few years ago "blogs dissolve bullshit".

Blogs would take what the MSM published and dissolve the bullshit pouring from someplace like the New York Times and show people why it was not to be trusted.

By the way this became so successful in the NYT's case that they tried to protect some of their "star" writers like Paul Krugman and Moreen Dowd by hiding them behind a pay per view firewall. This didn't work.

But in the process bloggers and other Internet news sites began to do original journalism so now it is the 'net (and talk radio, we can't leave that out of the new media mix) which leads and more often than not drags the old media behind it kicking and screaming all the way.

If broadcast news, CNN and most daily newspapers, along with magazines like Time and Newsweek, were still the only source of news for most Americans then we would not know about:
  • The scandal surrounding ACORN.
  • We would have never heard about Bill Clinton's affair with an intern and his subsequent perjury to cover it up.
  • We would not know about Climategate.
  • We would not know that Obama's brother lives in a cardboard shack in an African slum and that Obama refuses send him so much as one dime.
  • We would have never heard of "pastor" Jeremiah Wright.
  • We would not know that Barack Obama's relationship with domestic terrorist Bill Ayres is so close that Ayers ghost wrote at least one of Obama's autobiographies.
  • We would not know that Dan Rather attempted to sabotage George W Bush's reelection by using forged documents.
  • We would never have heard the truth about Obama "czars", like the one who advised an underage boy to continue having sex with an adult man that he met "in a bus station bathroom" or the one who said that the man she most admired was Chairman Mao.
In all these cases, and many others, the "Old Media" acted like a state controlled propaganda organization and attempted to suppress information which would be harmful to the political left, its politicans or its agenda.

It was only new media, centered on the Internet and AM radio that uncovered and publicized these facts and that is the primary reason that old media is dying. Their failures were not due to incompetence or laziness. Their failure is based entirely on the fact that they have taken the decision to maintain the pretense of objective journalism while in fact becoming partisan players. They are, to put it crudely, pissing in our face and telling us that it's raining.

It isn't that the public prefers biased journalism it's just that when all there is is biased journalism they prefer that one, the bias be for what they already believe (remember twice as many Americans identify themselves as conservative as liberal) and two, the source be honest about his bias.

As long as Rush Limbaugh tells you up front what he stands for and Katie Couric pretends to be "just covering the news" average Americans are going to have more trust in and respect for him than her.

It's just that simple.