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June 08, 2007



Near to the bottom line (on debates, campaign speeches, or after-election statements): there is no penalty for telling lies, half-truths, or clear distortions.

Remarkable, isn't it?

Now, it is maybe understandable that 'journalists' think it is beneath them to be reduced to checking facts, but if all they are now intended to do is report what people say, technology does it better and cheaper.

And if they are intended by the gods to just reflect on the atmospherics and speculate on the game performance, then they have no real qualifications for that either. A journalism degree or years of reporting experience does nothing to certify their competence to blather.

Our fourth estate seems to be in the midst (over several decades) of becoming our entertainment division instead of the news and analysis division, and they don't seem to know it (or won't admit it if they know). How is what they do different than standing along the red carpet and describing how much boob is showing on some film star's body?

And then they complain that the people are uninformed or don't care.


Is this a new phenomenon? What about Hearst's yellow journalism? What about the muckrakers?

Isn't it fair to say that sloganeering and sensationalism have always been more popular than reasoned debate?

Not to let anybody off the hook for this (Wolf), but it seems to me that a predilection for ignorance and the confirming one one's beliefs is the human condition, and that in today's internet age the public's ability to look beyond the bullshit is greater than ever.

Neil the Ethical Werewolf

I wonder how long it'll be before they make the natural move into going double-meta: "Sebelius was perceived as being perceived as timid in response to attacks..."


This criticism of the media brings George Soros's theory of "reflexivity" to mind. http://www.geocities.com/ecocorner/intelarea/gs1.html . Reporters pretend that they are just observering and reporting on the debates, where in fact their reporting makes them "participants" (in the way that Soros uses the term) that shape each debate's outcome and significance. As long as the media is in denial about this, they avoid their responsibilty for the consequences of their putrid reporting. The first step in recovery is that they need to acknowledge that their roles as participants is unavoidable, and that the quality of their participating affects -- or even determines -- the quality of our politics. Or at least it did have that effect -- thank God for blogs.


The single most influential newspaper article of Campaign 2000 was the New York Times story about the first Bush/Gore debate, which mentioned in passing that a couple of people in the viewing audience were put off by Gore's sighing. Within 24 hours, a Gore win became a Gore loss, as the media decided the sighing was the story.

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