Skip to comments.The Right to Know
Posted on 05/12/2008 5:31:32 PM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion
I want . . Freedom of the press to be the right not to be lied to.
You are confused. So very seriously confused about the First Amendment, that you are not thinking any more clearly about it than I was before the mid-1990s, when I began to see through the system by which the "journalistic objectivity" con is perpetrated. And since I was already in my fifties by then, I have every reason to understand how you might see things the way you do.
Freedom of the press is much more like "the right to lie to you" than it is like "the right not to be lied to." And that is a good thing.
In the founding era, nobody claimed that a newspaper was objective - no more so than you would take me seriously if I claimed to be objective - or I, you. That was because the newspapers were actually independent of each other back then. Independent of each other, but not independent of the political factions of the day. For example, one paper was sponsored by Thomas Jefferson, to attack the politics of Alexander Hamilton - and to reply to the attacks on him by the newspaper sponsored by Hamilton himself. The idea of either of those newspapers ceding to the other respect for being "objective" - which after all implies wisdom - is laughable.
Why, then, does our culture have the idea that journalism should be, even could be, objective? Simple - the telegraph and the Associated Press transformed the newspaper business - and our culture - beginning back in the middle of the Nineteenth Century. Prior to the advent of the telegraph, newspaper printers got their news about the same way that the other people in their towns got theirs - by word of mouth and by getting physical copies of other newspapers, delivered by sailboat and horse-drawn wagon. So in principle, any given local might easily have heard any given news item before the local newspaper printed it. Accordingly, most newspapers were not dailies, may were weeklies and some had no deadline at all and just printed when the printer was good and ready. Making it all the more likely that people would get news by word of mouth before the newspaper reported it to them.
Then along came the Associated Press. Suddenly the newspaper printer had a direct line to newspapers in all the other towns and cities of the country - and to reporters working directly for the AP who aggressively got the news from ships arriving from Europe before those ships even docked. The AP was an aggressive monopolizer of the use of the telegraph for transmission of the news; it cut exclusive deals with the telegraph lines which froze competitors out. That made the AP the target of criticism and challenge, since it was so obviously an unprecedented concentration of nationwide public influence. The AP proceeded to demonstrate that influence by deflecting those charges by asserting that since the Association was composed of member newspapers which famously did not agree on much of anything, the Association was - wait for it - "objective."
That was, is, and always will be absurd. First, of course, because thinking yourself to be objective is arguably the best possible definition of the word "subjectivity." And secondly, because the AP, and all of those "independent-thinking" papers which made up the AP, was selling something. The same thing - news, before you could get it from any other source. So the AP and every one of its members had the identical incentive to sell the idea that journalism - all journalism - was objective. How else to vouch for the news which suddenly was a pervasive, dominant theme of your newspaper which had not actually had that function before - when that news did not originate with your newspaper's own reporters but with those of a nominal competitor in a distant city? So with the AP, newspapers suddenly had not only the motive but the opportunity to claim objectivity as long as they did not compete with any other AP newspaper on the basis of objectivity claims. And the more opportunity they had to make that claim, the less compunction was necessary about taking care to vindicate the claim by actually being objective.
So what is the actual effect of the claim by all of journalism that all of journalism is objective? The actual effect of the claim of objectivity, running as it has for a century and a half, is to establish in custom the idea that journalists are a breed apart from we-the-people - more virtuous, more knowledgeable, and more civic-minded - and thus entitled not only to be listened to with respect by people who pay for the privilege but entitled to special privileges such as "shield" laws granting reporters the right to withhold the names of sources from courts of law which any citizen would be under legal compunction to yield up. And entitled to special rights to speak out about candidates for public office, to be denied, under McCain-Feingold, to we-the-people. Is there any real virtue in having our government officers selected by vote of the whole people on a date certain, when it would be far more manageable to simply read in the newspapers what the newspapers say is in the public interest? Or, for that matter, what the newspapers say the public thinks, based on "public opinion polls?" From the POV of the journalist - or anyone who thinks that journalists are more objective and hence wiser and more virtuous than the public at large - the answer would have to be, "No." What could be more patent than that the conceit of journalistic objectivity is profoundly subversive of democratic principle?
Before the abolition of the Fairness Doctrine and the rise of the Internet generally and FreeRepublic.com in particular, the public discourse was largely controlled by monolithic AP journalism. Journalism had extremely broad latitude to say whatever they wanted so say, and call that "objectivity." The most fundamental desire of journalism is to attract an attentive audience, and to be able to exploit that ability for fun and profit. The linchpin of the influence of AP journalism being perishable news - news that will soon no longer be new - journalism inexorably presses upon the public the idea that the news is important. The more important you think the news is, the less attention you will pay to things which change less, or not at all. That is why AP journalism is inherently anti conservative. Journalism also is maximally important when there is a crisis requiring public notice and action. But of course a putative crisis "requiring" government action implies that the powers-that-be have not already taken whatever action is needed, which is why the public should attend to the journalist and influence the politician accordingly. Again that makes the journalist anti conservative.
Another way of stating the above paragraph is to note that journalism's rules include "There's nothing more worthless than yesterday's newspaper," and "If it bleeds, it leads." The former rule simply says that only what the public doesn't know yet matters, and the latter says that the bad news is most important. Journalism's rules also enjoin the editor that "Man Bites Dog" is news, and "Dog Bites Man" is not news. Which means that business-as-usual is not news, and if anything is reported in the newspaper it is probably not typical of what normally characterizes society. Most people never, in their entire lives, commit a murder or even know anyone who did commit a murder - but you will find plentiful stories about murders, and demands for the disarming of the general public, but rarely mention of how statistically rare murder actually is or how frequently the law-abiding use or, more commonly merely threaten to use, weapons to prevent crime. Likewise if our troops suffer casualties and deaths in Iraq that is news - even though the overwhelming majority of our troops return from Iraq without a scratch, and also with scant if any notice by journalism. All that comports with the rules of journalism - but the rules of journalism comport with the interest of journalism,. The rules of journalism purport to be about the public interest, but actually are only about interesting the public. And the two things are not only different, they are often in contradiction. So we see that journalism is anti conservative.
Since journalism not only has the inherent incentive to say what it wants to say, and since under the Associated Press regime journalism coheres as a single identifiable entity with identifiable interests and has a dominant position in the public discourse by which it is easily capable of stonewalling or otherwise dismissing contradiction, it is only natural to expect that journalism will promote those who scratch its back, and oppose those who do not. Conservatives are those who are least prone to scratch journalism's back. In this context the most satisfactory definition of American conservatism was implied in Theodore Roosevelt's famous speech at the Sorbonne in France in 1911:"It is not the critic who counts . . . the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena . . . who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds . . .That speech defines American conservatism - respect for those who take responsibility and work to a bottom line - and its opposite, which is criticism and second guessing of those who take responsibility to get things done. The latter is AP journalism's natural predilection, and it naturally tends to undercut the businessman and the policeman and the military man. There are others besides journalists who second guess the people who get things done, and journalists call them "liberals," or "progressives," or "moderates" - essentially any positive label but "objective." "Objective" is the label which journalists reserve to themselves but anyone who currently is labeled a "liberal" or a "progressive" can get a job as a journalist and instantly receive the "objective journalist" label without any change in his/her political perspective. George Stephanopolis is the outstanding example of the phenomenon; there is emphatically not any example of a conservative ever becoming recognized as an "objective" journalist.
It is interesting to note that American conservatives conserve a tradition which was started, not in the mists of time as in nations generally, but in a specific founding era in the second half of the Eighteenth Century. American constitutional norms do trace back to English antecedents, but they are codified as British and other nation's traditions have not been. The preamble to the US Constitution is a mission statement for America, and after all the specifics about providing for the common defense and so forth, it concludes with the nut of the matter, " . . . [to] secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity." American conservatives, therefore, conserve liberty - which, considering that liberty allows people to do things in different ways, and to do different things, than were done in the past, is such a unique form of "conservatism" that adherents to it have questioned whether that is even a proper term for it.
Indeed, the word which (anywhere outside the US, as recently as a decade ago) describes "American conservatism" is "liberalism." link Well one might ask, "how did the US acquire a definition of "liberalism" which is opposed to what is in America called "conservatism?" I make no pretense of specific knowledge of the event, but I have a hypothesis which I would defend against challenge until such time as more specific evidence is cited than has come to my attention. First, I would note that the term "socialism" would, on etymological grounds, be assumed to relate to support for organic societal decisions rather than - as we well know to be the actual case - relating to government control of things which in America are traditionally left to societal decisions made, perhaps most notably, in the marketplace. So I would argue that the term "socialism" was dishonestly coined by its proponents. And, everywhere outside the US, socialism was far more accepted by the public at large than it was in the US. We have had governments which were socialist in intent - FDR with his "New Deal" and LBJ and his "Great Society" perhaps most prominently - but at no time has a socialist run for POTUS openly advocating socialism as such, and won. Indeed there is exactly one avowedly Socialist senator - Bernie Sanders of Vermont - and he caucuses, surprise of surprises, with the senate Democrats. Essentially all of whom are readily classified as "liberals."
My inference is that since "socialism" was a failed brand name in the US but not elsewhere, people in the US who had the ability to rebrand socialist nostrums, and wanted to do so, seized upon the co-opting of the term for the political theory which already was popular. Associated Press journalism - especially in conjunction with academia, which as a group are critics and not doers just as reporters are - fits that bill exactly. It is a theory which seems to fit the facts as I know them perfectly - socialist-minded people had motive, in the US, and opportunity, to make the change. Certainly, or so it seems to me, it would have been impossible without at least the acquiescence, and probably the active support, of journalism. There would have been far less incentive for socialists in any other locale than the United States to make that change.
We see the process of the creation of a new word - a neologism - out of whole cloth springing out of the Democratic reaction to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign of 2004. In that case, the SBVT organization counted among its members the entire chain of command in Vietnam above John Kerry, and all his fellow officers on the other Swift Boats in Kerry's naval unit. If you wanted to ask anyone else but John Kerry and his subordinates on his boat, on the one hand, and the SBVT on the other, you would be embarrassed for want of anyone who could speak of about Kerry's performance on the basis of direct knowledge. You have to either believe one side or the other, and the SBVT group is far more numerous, and was more highly credentialed at the time and place in question, than Lt. John Kerry and his subordinates were. And their story was more consistent over time, and internally, than Kerry's story was - considering how certain Kerry was that he had been sent on a mission into Cambodia by a president who hadn't been inaugurated yet! Nevertheless, AP journalism and the rest of the Democratic smear machine has created, and imposed on the national dialog, the term "swiftboating" defined as the irresponsible and unjustified criticism of a Democrat.
So we have seen the imposition of a story line and a word meaning implemented before our very eyes, in real time. What reason is there to doubt that the same or similar things have been done in the past, when we didn't have the Internet and talk radio to help us keep our sanity when we thought that "objective" journalists were cooking the books! By the accounts of Ann Coulter and M. Stanton Evans, the coining of the word "McCarthyism" was done in exactly the same fashion, and with no more justification than the coining of "swiftboating" was done. And thus I have little doubt that the inversion of the meaning of the word "liberalism" was done the same way, by the same sort of people.
And "liberalism" is not the only word whose meaning has been inverted; the words "society" and "public" have received similar treatment. If you hear a "liberal" speak of "society" your very first impulse should be to question whether or not the speaker means anything other than government. Except in the absence of freedom, the two are not synonyms, but that is how the socialist "liberal" uses the word "society." And the socialist "liberal" uses the word "public" to exactly the same intent.
Of course, this was also predicated on the ideal of objectivity, which none of us have (least of all myself).
I have been unable to put my finger on the exact distinction to be made between a claim of "objectivity" and a claim of wisdom. And of course if you research "wisdom" in the etymological dictionary, you find the meanings of the terms "sophist" and "philosopher" are relevant, as follows:sophist1542, earlier sophister (c.1380), from L. sophista, sophistes, from Gk. sophistes, from sophizesthai "to become wise or learned," from sophos "wise, clever," of unknown origin. Gk. sophistes came to mean "one who gives intellectual instruction for pay," and, contrasted with "philosopher," it became a term of contempt. Ancient sophists were famous for their clever, specious arguments.philosopherWhich is my explanation of the fact that the person who claims to be most objective always seems to be farthest from it.O.E. philosophe, from L. philosophus, from Gk. philosophos "philosopher," lit. "lover of wisdom," from philos "loving" + sophos "wise, a sage."
"Pythagoras was the first who called himself philosophos, instead of sophos, 'wise man,' since this latter term was suggestive of immodesty." [Klein]
Modern form with -r appears c.1325, from an Anglo-Fr. or O.Fr. variant of philosophe, with an agent-noun ending. . . .
It seems to me that the Associated Press motivates and enables a mutual admiration society among journalists which makes it taboo for one journalist to question the "objectivity" - whatever that word is supposed to mean - of another journalist. It seems to me as well that journalism as we know it systematically corrupts the language, changing or inverting the meaning of words and instituting new and deceptive words.
In the 1920s journalism (or somebody - and who else but journalism was in a position to do it?) inverted the meaning of "liberalism" from opposition to increased government regulation and high taxes to advocacy of those very things. "Liberals" (actually socialists) systematically use euphenisms for government such as "public" or "society." A "public" school is actually a government school, and when a "liberal" says that "society" should do some thing s/he means nothing other than that the government should do it. And yet society and government are not the same unless there is (or unless there should be) no such thing as individual freedom. When "liberals" use euphemisms for government, AP journalism is never slow to adopt the usages "liberals" prefer.
Associated Press journalism calls itself "the press," insinuating that "the freedom of . . . the press" mandated by the First Amendment confers privileges on Associated Press journalism exclusively and does not refer to the right of the people to spend their own money for the use of technology to promote their own opinions.
AP journalism created "Swift Boating" and "McCarthyism," two words which connote the same thing. Both connote AP journalism's preferred image that criticism of Democrats (at least, criticism from the right) is illegitimate. Each word seemingly denotes an objective reality, but one which cannot bear close scrutiny. But as long as AP journalism controls the debate the fact that the words are double smears - smears of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth or of Senator Joseph McCarthy, as well as whoever is tarred with association with the image which AP journalism has created of McCarthy and of the SBVT- is not allowed into the conversation.
And did you know that the Associated Press was aggressively monopolistic from its inception, and that in 1945 it was held by SCOTUS to be in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act?
I do not rejoice any newspaper disappearing.
I have to agree. My concern is that freedom of the "press" may not automatically extend to electronic media. Especially if the "fairness doctrine" gets reinstated. Has the supreme court ever ruled that electronic media is guaranteed the same protections as print media?The fallacy in that argument lies in the planted assumption that newspapers are free and independent. In truth, journalism is a singular noun. Journalism as we know it is a mid-Nineteenth Century development, a product of the development of the telegraph and of the Associated Press, which has been a monopolistic organization from its inception (and which was held by SCOTUS to be in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act back in 1945).
That is the explanation for the transformation of the fiercely independent, openly political newspapers of the founding era (and into the middle of the Nineteenth Century) into the self-described "objective press" of today. That homogenization of reporting was the natural result of the acquisition by the newspapers of a (single) source of news which is not available to the general public except by reading the newspaper. The business model of journalism as we know it hinges on the perception that all those AP news stories are reliable and balanced, not hokum or propaganda. Thus, "all reporters are objective." That is a statement to which only a homogenized - not independent and therefore not free - press could subscribe, and to which the Associated Press and its membership must, of business necessity, subscribe.
The death of the "Fairness" Doctrine enabled the revival of a free press - in the form of talk radio. Don't be deceived by claims of "scarcity of bandwidth" or "monopolization of talk radio by the right." Or by claims that "the press" includes only ink-on-paper communication.
The Antifederalists who demanded a bill of rights in the Constitution were opposed by the Federalists, not because they opposed the rights in the first ten amendments but because they held that a bill of rights would not be exhaustive of the rights already implied in the Constitution and they feared that any rights not specifically mentioned in the Bill of Rights would be denigrated - that the Bill would become a ceiling rather than a floor on the rights of the people. Consequently it is established jurisprudence that the body of the Constitution is to be read as the Federalists promoted it to the people who ratified it - as including within itself all the rights articulated in the Bill of Rights.
If you read the Constitution that way the words "the press" fade out, and words like "No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States" (Article 1 Section 9) come into focus. Because what the Associated Press and its membership has done is to lobby for a title of nobility - "the press" - which gives them privileges to be withheld from the people. "The freedom of . . . the press" is actually the right of the people to spend their own money to use technology to promote their own (political, religious, and other) opinions.
If you do not read "the press" as a ceiling on our rights, and if you read in Article 1 Section 8 that the federal government is explicitly authorized "to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries," you will find in the Constitution no warrant for the claim that the framers of the Constitution expected no advances in the arts of communication and that therefore the Constitution does not cover high speed presses, photography, telegraphy, telephony, sound recording, radio, mimeograph machines, movies, talking movies, television, photocopiers, hi-fi steros, computer/printer combinations, Compact Disks, HDTV, DVDs, satellite radio, the Internet and the worldwide web - or whatever comes next.
It is in my experience a great mistake to try to prove that journalism is not objective - for the simple reason that that is a political opinion. You would do just as well to expect to be able, in an hour's conversation, to convert a Democrat to a Republican. My point is not the mere fact that I can cite examples of tendentiousness in journalism until the cows come home, and my point is not simply that no one can prove that journalism is objective because lack of bias is an unprovable negative. My point is that I have a right to listen to Rush Limbaugh, provided only that he makes his program available to me on terms that I am able and willing to meet, without reference to what a politician or judge, or all of them, think of Rush Limbaugh's opinions. Just as surely as your garden variety "sheeple" has a right to listen to Katie Couric. A government which distinguishes between the two is not operating under the Constitution.
The Bill of Rights was intended as a minimal accounting of the rights of the people. To restrict freedom of the press to specific people or to specific communications technology is to abuse the First Amendment by using it as a ceiling, rather than a floor, on the rights of the people.
- It would be no different from NPR or PBS if they did. And actually of a piece with the assignment of radio channel broadcast licenses on the premise that the broadcaster will "serve the public interest" by broadcasting Associated Press journalism. And of a piece with McCain-Feingold limits on who can criticize politicians at election time.
- All of the above would be recognized as being unconstitutional by any mind not clouded by the propaganda to the effect that "the freedom of the press" refers to privileges of Associated Press journalism specifically.
Journalism as we know it does not trace back to the time of the ratification of the First Amendment, but only to the founding of the Associated Press in 1848. The openly partisan and fiercely independent "newspapers" of the founding era would never have countenanced, let alone promoted, the idea that a competing newspaper was objective. And, lacking a source of news not in principle accessible to the general public by any other means than reading the newspapers, founding era newspapers were more about political commentary than about news. The dominance of the monopolistic (found in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1945) Associated Press reversed all of that, creating journalism as we know it.
"The freedom of the press" in the First Amendment properly should be understood as the right of the people, not any special privilege of the members of the Associated Press, to spend money to apply technology to their efforts to promote their own political (and other) opinions. To assign that freedom to specific individuals rather than to the people would be to make "the press" into a title of nobility in violation of Section 9 of Article I. And since Section 8 of Article 1 specifically gives the government the authority "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries," limiting the meaning of "the press" to the literal Eighteenth Century printing press arbitrarily assumes that the ratifiers of the First Amendment intended to limit their own and their posterity's freedom to use new communication technology (and which technology specifically? The radio but not the high speed printing press? The television but not the telephone? The internet but not the photocopier?).
The Press is an institution of the state. Constitutional, too.
The Press is an institution of the state.
True. Constitutional, too.
The Press is mentioned in the Bill of Rights. It is a Federally protected institution. Constitutionally.
The Press is mentioned in the Bill of Rights. It is a Federally protected institution. Constitutionally.
That is not precisely true. The exact quote of the First Amendment is:Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.You will say, "Of course. The Press is mentioned right there, just as I said." But, not so fast. The Constitution and its amendments is a written document, and it says "the freedom . . . of the press" - NOT ""the freedom . . . of The Press." And that "slight" distinction betrays a major difference between what you have been told and what is true.
The ratification of the Constitution was a close-run thing, with Washington (who had chaired the Constitutional Convention) playing a critical role in attaining ratification. The Antifederalists condemned the want of a bill of rights in the Constitution, and the Federalists opposed it - but not because they opposed the rights articulated in the Bill of Rights. Rather, they opposed it because they held that the unamended Constitution contained within it all the rights which could be articulated specifically in a bill of rights, and more. They argued that a bill of rights would inevitably leave out some rights which pertained to the people, and that therefore a bill of rights risked functioning as a ceiling, rather than a floor, of the rights of the people. That people would argue, "it's not in the Bill of Rights, so it's not in the Constitution." Supreme Court justices, both liberal and conservative, will tell you that since the people who ratified the Constitution did so on the understanding that the advocates of ratification were correct, the body of the Constitution is properly read to mean that. So you aren't up to speed on the Constitution unless you can find in the body of the Constitution a basis for upholding any right articulated in the Bill of Rights.
And IMHO, the First Amendment is abused as a ceiling on the rights of the people when Big Journalism - essentially the Associated Press and its members - calls itself "The Press." Article 1 Section 9 mandates thatNo title of nobility shall be granted by the United States.But what else is "The Press" but a title of nobility, when journalists are given "shield laws" which allow them to flout laws which you or I are obligated to obey? Or when McCain-Feingold says that you or I may not criticize politicians during election season, but that's constitutional because "The Press" can?
The First Amendment is not in conflict with the rest of the Constitution. The correct understanding of "the freedom of . . . the press" is, "the right of the people to spend their own money to pay for the use of technology to promote their political (and other) opinions." The printing press was the state of the art for the dissemination of political opinion at the time of the ratification of the First Amendment, but the body of the Constitution (Article 1 Section 8) specifically provides the authorityTo promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveriesThe existence of that authority, and the motivation for it, in the body of the Constitution marks the Constitution as a progress-promoting document. Therefore unless you want to argue that the ratifiers of the First Amendment thought that they were making an exception to the rule that there should be progress in the state of every art by saying under their prescient breath, "except for radio and television, but the high speed press and the photocopier will be OK," there is no case that the First Amendment places a ceiling on the communication technology which the people have the right to use.
It is wrong to consider "The Press" to be a group of noblemen who have privileges apart from the rights of the people. Especially when that group is a bunch of monopolists who violate the Antitrust laws.
Clay Shirky’s Writings About the Internet
Economics and Culture, Media and Community, Open Source
Hat tip to abb.
The Press is an institution of the state. No reference is made to any individuals who might populate that institution.
The Press is an institution of the state. No reference is made to any individuals who might populate that institution.
"An institution of the state" is not independent of the state and certainly not free of the control of the state.
That certainly describes journalism as we know it, and it describes the assumptions of "campaign finance reform" in all its incarnations. It just doesn't describe freedom. Just as using "society" as a euphemism for "the state" - as "liberals" are wont to do - is accurate only in the absence of freedom.
it is evident that [a bill of rights] would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretense for claiming that power. They might urge with a semblance of reason, that the Constitution ought not to be charged with the absurdity of providing against the abuse of an authority which was not given, and that the provision against restraining the liberty of the press afforded a clear implication, that a power to prescribe proper regulations concerning it was intended to be vested in the national government.
IMHO that is what has happened with the First Amendment and the right of the people to spend their own money to avail themselves of technological means to promote their own (political, religious, and other) opinions.
We have the spectacle of the members of a monopolistic organization, the Associated Press - an institution not even extant at the framing of the Bill of Rights nor even in the entire lifetime of James Madison (1751 1836) - declaring themselves alone to be "the press" protected by the First Amendment. And successfully promoting "campaign finance reform" laws to denigrate the rights of the rest of the people on that basis.
Each law more onerous than the last - and with the author of the latest, John McCain, announcing shortly after its passage that McCain-Feingold was not restrictive enough!
Again Thomas Sowell identifies one of the most serious cracks in our Republic.It is one of the painful signs of our times that millions of people are so easily swayed by rhetoric that they show virtually no interest at all in finding out the hard facts.
Yes. But I would identify the root of the problem in the monopoly which promotes the idea of the easy, cheap solution - the form of "press" created by the monopoly Associated Press in the mid-Nineteenth Century.
Big Journalism flatters its audience just as "Self esteem" education flatters students. Rather than challenging people to think, flattery denigrates the idea that thinking is necessary. "You are so great that your emotional reactions are superior to other people's best rational analysis." Doesn't that make you feel good? You don't have to think about anything at all! Nobody can be smarter than you!
There has been NO incentive for the PI and the Times to compete on important stories; just competition to see which one can be a more slavering running-dog lackey of the left wing lunatic fringe.
Journalism is about change, and change is what "progressives" offer.
The First Amendment protects freedom of the press, but the Associated Press has arrogated the title "the press" to itself - as though the right applied exclusively to that institution. But the framers were not, could not have been, talking specifically about an institution whose founding was generations in the future when the First Amendment was ratified. The Associated Press created journalism as we know it, with its nationwide homogeneity and its claims that all journalists are "objective." But "the freedom of the press" is the right of the people, not only of some oligarchy, to spend money to use technology to promote our religious, political (and other) ideas.We the people talk about what is on their minds - and while Big Journalism is able to dominate the national conversation, what is on our minds will mostly be "what's in the newspapers." Conservative bloggers/forum posters exist in reaction to the fact that journalism is inherently anticonservative. And in reaction to the "progressive" politicians who draft on the propaganda wind of Big Journalism.Don't count on bloggers or talk radio to fill the gap, said former state Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge, another committee leader: They mostly talk about what's in the newspapers.
There is no reason that the political parties cannot produce, and publish on the web, the political rhetoric which frames the national conversation. The people have no need of an oligarchy of pseudo-objective journalists to fill that role.
There is no reason that the political parties cannot produce, and publish on the web, the political rhetoric which frames the national conversation. The people have no need of an oligarchy of pseudo-objective journalists to fill that role.Well said, as always!
Most interesting how the notion of becoming a conservative voice as a last ditch measure to try to save the paper totally eludes Swartz, McCumber, et al. Yet the Inet clearly shows an oversaturation of progressive liberal socialist voices in mass media and a mostly ignored vastly underserved conservative market.
New media makes for killer competition in the socialist arena. How many lite versions of the New York Times-WaPo can America's socialist market segment simultaneously support?
Yes - but that comports with my theory that journalism as we know it is inherently "progressive" and that conservative journalism is an oxymoron like dry water.
Businesses have cultures, and a business' culture is difficult or impossible to fundamentally change. On its face the problem seems simple to us, who are not of that culture - simply enter the niche for conservative perspective which Rush Limbaugh finds so fabulously profitable. But Rush is in that niche by conviction, and failing newspapers are on the opposite side, also out of (misguided) conviction. Even assuming that they see the opportunity, they have not the art to exploit it. Even if they tried, they would come across as phonies.
Journalism by its nature emphasizes the things that conservatives de-emphasize, and vice versa.
Brings to mind something from Teddy Roosevelt we are wont to emphasize around here from time to time:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better...
I don't know in what context those words were said but they were most certainly directed towards "journalists", who for whatever reasons took it upon themselves to become the conscience of the world. They took the easy and sleazy way to importance; criticizing those that actually do things. When did what they say become more important than what others do???
Question is, how did they achieve their unlikely rise to prominence and influence? They certainly don't deserve to be held in such high esteem. The fact they were able to get news, or what passes for news, from one place to another earns them their exalted position? Not in my book. But then, I'm a conservative who worked for a living most of my life, and in fact actually accomplished something. I suppose I should be thankful that what I did wasn't important enough to have the media types come around to show me how I should have been doing my job.
Anyway, I suspect P T Barnum would have been right at home with the lot of 'em. Carnival barkers, snake oil salesmen, assorted hucksters and others of dubious moral character make up the class for the most part.
BTW, I'm happy to see you're still chronicling many of the media bias threads.
I don't know in what context those words were said but they were most certainly directed towards "journalists",It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better...
Turns out that Roosevelt had something to say specifically about journalists later in his speech:Of course all that I say of the orator applies with even greater force to the orator's latter-day and more influential brother, the journalist. The power of the journalist is great, but he is entitled neither to respect nor admiration because of that power unless it is used aright. He can do, and often does, great good. He can do, and he often does, infinite mischief. All journalists, all writers, for the very reason that they appreciate the vast possibilities of their profession, should bear testimony against those who deeply discredit it. Offenses against taste and morals, which are bad enough in a private citizen, are infinitely worse if made into instruments for debauching the community through a newspaper. Mendacity, slander, sensationalism, inanity, vapid triviality, all are potent factors for the debauchery of the public mind and conscience. The excuse advanced for vicious writing, that the public demands it and that demand must be supplied, can no more be admitted than if it were advanced by purveyors of food who sell poisonous adulterations. In short, the good citizen in a republic must realize that the ought to possess two sets of qualities, and that neither avails without the other. He must have those qualities which make for efficiency; and that he also must have those qualities which direct the efficiency into channels for the public good.The whole speech rewards a reading:http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trsorbonnespeech.htmlBut far from holding each other to account, of course, all journalists - being "associated" with each other in the Associated Press - collude to suppress effective public criticism of the "mendacity, slander, sensationalism, inanity, [and] vapid triviality" in which all engage as a matter of course.
All journalists, all writers, for the very reason that they appreciate the vast possibilities of their profession, should bear testimony against those who deeply discredit it.
Yes - but that comports with my theory that journalism as we know it is inherently "progressive" and that conservative journalism is an oxymoron like dry water.Empirical evidence in the form of an apparent lack of awareness among journalists that their own progressive socialist proclivities antagonize nearly half their market proves you absolutely correct thus far.
I made it about half way through before realizing I had no idea re the depth of character of T.R. Sadly, I haven't really been a student of history, but if by no other means, osmosis should have led me to some broader knowledge of Teddy Roosevelt. Based on this particular speech I gather "journalism" wasn't enamored with T.R and consequently his legacy never reached the level to which journalists felt he earned their admiration. Gotta wonder if like today, there wasn't an epidemic of TR derangement syndrome.
I gather "journalism" wasn't enamored with T.R and consequently his legacy never reached the level to which journalists felt he earned their admiration. Gotta wonder if like today, there wasn't an epidemic of TR derangement syndrome.
I dunno. Considering that TR's likeness is on Mount Rushmore, which was authorized by Congress on March 3, 1925, I doubt you could make that case.
Possible. BUT, and FWIW, I can even remember during my lifetime there existed Dimocrats who were actually practicing Americans, many from the great state of Texas. Not that long ago, really. On the other hand, if "journalists" had been polled for their opinion re TR??? In truth, I dunno either.
Bookmarked. We seem to live in a counterfeit world now....
And it's going to get even more artificial as the first days of the Obama Administration get underway:
Remember the endless stories covering the plight of the Homeless from The New York Times and her Sob Sisters? You're probably not going to be reading or hearing as much about these folks from the MSM, although you'll see them out and about with their shabby clothing, stolen shopping carts, and cardboard signs.
And those unrepentant, greedy Corporate America CEOs? They too will vanish from the front pages and news wires. Only Republican Administrations produce these miscreants.
The crime rate? POOF! All gone. Everything and everybody's grooving.
...And on and on it will go. The only way to know what's really happening is to walk outside your door or tune in to Talk Radio.
Bump so I can find later in furtherance of my education. Thank you.
I agree with Rush's take on this - namely, that an attempt to revive the "fairness" doctrine is in fact coming at us - not only at talk radio but probably also at the internet - but that it will be called something other than the "fairness doctrine." That has already been run into the ground, and another euphemism for censorship will be employed - something along the lines of "community standards." My take on it is that we have no hope of winning in the court of public opinion if that is defined as whatever the MSM says it is. But we do have hope in SCOTUS as presently constituted, because it was O'Connor rather than Kennedy who provided the fifth vote in McConnell v. FEC to uphold McCain-Feingold, which essentially upholds the idea that "the press" "is" "objective."
My approach would be, ironically, to avoid reference to the First Amendment but rather to argue that the Bill of Rights was understood by the framers of the Constitution to be included within the Constitution itself. And I would argue that there is under the Constitution no such thing as a "fourth estate," since under Section 9 of Article 1"No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States,"and the strata of
- first estate, Lords Spiritual - the clergy in France and the heads of the church in Britain
- Lords Temporal, second estate - the nobility in France and the peerage in Britain
third estate, Commons - the common people
- fourth estate - the press, including journalists, newspaper writers, photographers
have no application here. Here, there is only "the governments" (of various jurisdictions, including the federal one) and "the people." I held back from discussing the First Amendment because the term "the press" has been distorted by those who claim that they have special rights not contemplated in the Constitution. "The freedom of . . . the press" is not a right only of those who own presses now, it is the right of the people to spend their own money to buy presses at their own pleasure. Indeed, those of us who own computers and printers, or photocopiers, may be said to own presses. So the claim that only journalists are "the press" is fatuous. Indeed, the newspapers of the founding era were distinctly different from those with which we are familiar - to such an extent that those who today style themselves as "the press" would not recognize any of the printers of the newspapers of the founding era as being members of their "press." Because implicit acceptance of the objectivity of all other journalists was not a staple of the Eighteenth Century newspaper. That is an artifact of the telegraph and the Associated Press (founded 1848), which probably no framer of the Constitution or Bill of Rights survived to see.
The claim that the framers of the Constitution did not foresee technologies such as the radio and the internet can be countered by reference to Article 1 Section 8 which explicitly provides that Congress has the authorityTo promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoverieswhich certainly authorizes the reader of the Constitution to assert that in fact the framers did foresee and promote progress in technology "useful" for publicizing information and opinions. The fear of the Federalists who opposed the inclusion of a bill of rights in the Constitution was that it would not cover every right which was (they held) implied by the body of the Constitution - and that opponents of liberty would use the Bill of Rights not as a floor but a ceiling on the rights of the people. And when people suggest that liberty does not apply to the use of technologies not mentioned in the First Amendment that is precisely what they are doing. Hence, my point that an appeal to the First Amendment may ironically not be the best way to vindicate the right of the people to promote our opinions by use of post-Eighteenth Century technologies, to the limits of our own purses and predilections. And the collateral right of the people to attend to, or at their own pleasure to ignore, any such efforts.
And from my POV the problem we should be addressing is precisely how to get that issue before SCOTUS, and precisely what remedy we can seek in such action. It is not clear to me that waiting for some "fairness doctrine" assault to fully form is prudent. It seems to me that there should be torts to be found in any and all operations (and in some inactions) of the Federal Election Commission, for example. Because campaign finance regulation is censorship.
You are talking about McConnell v. FEC right? That was pre-Scalia and Roberts. But yes, a lot of hope is involved.We hope. They did allow Campaign Finance Reform to stand.
It was pre-Alito and Roberts (and, concommitantly, post O'Connor and Rhenquist). The loss of Rhenquist was the loss of a good vote on McConnell v. FEC, but the retirement of O'Connor eliminated a bad vote on it. Assuming that Roberts and Alito will be good on the issue and Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy go as they did before, that would be enough for a favorable 5-4 split to overturn the unfavorable 5-4 ruling in McConnell v. FEC.
I would have a case brought against the FEC and the FCC along the following lines:
- The First Amendment cannot be read narrowly because the framers of the unamended Constitution argued against the Bill of Rights only on the basis that future opponents of liberty (read, "liberals" and "objective journalists") would work to make a bill of rights a ceiling rather than a floor on our liberties. So the rights stipulated in the First Amendment are mere examples of our freedoms rather than an exhaustive list of our rights to public expression of our opinions. The fact that the First Amendment does not - as it could not have - mention the Internet and the radio is therefore of no import. The body of the Constitution must be interpreted as including the First Amendment, and that cannot be done in a way which excludes equality of the rights of the people to express opinions on the radio and the internet. No price, and no membership in a private organization, touches the rights of the people. Those rights pertain to each person whether or not he/she has as of yet purchased a printing press, and whether or not he or she has joined the Associated Press (an organization whose founding was two generations in the future when Washington was first elected POTUS).
- The plaints of the opponents of liberty are not directed at the radio as such but only at a particular programming format, "talk radio." That format has proven to have the virtue of being congenial to the arguments of philosophers and not to the blandishments of sophists. Philosophers, in the original (etymological) sense, are people who do not argue from any assumption of their own superior virtue but restrict their arguments to facts and logic. Sophists, OTOH, argue from the assumption of their own superior wisdom (in the literal meaning of "soph") - or, in the case of journalists styling themselves "the press," from the assumption of their own objectivity. And politicians who call themselves "liberal" or "progressive," agreeing perfectly with "objective journalists" and therefore sharing the vice inherent in journalists' presumptuous assumption of their own objectivity. And such politicians also argue from the assumption of their own superior compassion as well. It is not necessary for SCOTUS to agree with this point, only to agree that it would be wrong to reject it as a possibility - and wrong for SCOTUS to allow those who might be sophists to censor those who might be philosophers.
- Any rationale to exclude the radio and the Internet from the First Amendment on grounds of novelty would reach the telegraph, and certainly the TV. It is patently false to claim that the framers did not anticipate the radio and the internet, or any other technology. Article 1 Section 8 explicitly gives Congress the right "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries" - and also the Article V right to propose constitutional amendments if developments (not excluding technological ones) reveal the necessity thereof.
- Any claim of a lack of diversity of radio programming can be answered by expanding the spectrum allocated to that function without reducing the ability of existing stations to air existing programming. Reducing the ability of existing stations to air existing programming is censorship, and requires amendment not only of the First Amendment but also of the body of the Constitution.
- Any restriction on the right of the people to spend their own money to promote their own political, or other, opinions requires a constitutional amendment. The FEC has no rightful authority, and such authority as it has wielded has been asymmetrically applied.
The First Amendment says that the government has no business controlling printing or speech. It does not mention broadcasting or the internet. Full stop. But then if it did say anything about those things, that would be proof that it was not written in the Eighteenth Century - just as the fact that the "Killian memos" were made using Microsoft Word proves that those documents were not made in the 1970s.
But it is not true that the Constitution does not provide for such things. First, the Constitution (in Article 1 Section 8) explicitly gives Congress the authorityTo promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries. . . so it is patently not true that the Constitution does not contemplate the possibility of new means of expressing political opinion - or of doing anything else.
Second, it is settled doctrine that the framers of the body of the Constitution did not include a bill of rights in it so that it would not constitute a ceiling on the rights of the people. On that basis many methods of expression - yea, unto the smearing of chocolate on nude bodies - have been accorded constitutional protection without being explicitly mentioned in the document. The right of freedom of the press is the right of the people to spend money on the use of technology to promote their political opinions. Not least, by buying the newspapers - or patronizing the products advertised on radio programs - which promote their beliefs and attitudes.
Congress - or any body such as the FEC or the FCC created by Congress - has no constitutional authority to prevent us from listening to political commentators under any pretext.
On a personal note, see my tag . . .
Nicely done. The question of the day is how to combat it.
The question of the day is how to combat it.
Did you read my #134?
IMHO the FEC, and some extent the FCC, are unconstitutional and should be sued out of existence. There is not a moment to lose in dispatching McCain-Feingold, since IMHO that abomination helped assure that the Republican Party did not field a credible nominee last year (it has been credibly asserted that Ronald Reagan could not have run for POTUS if McCain-Feingold had existed in 1980).
Nicely done. The question of the day is how to combat it.
In addition to suing the FEC for its very existence and the FCC for its authority to silence conservative talk radio on whatever premise, we should sue the Associated Press for its Sherman Antitrust Act violations (of which SCOTUS found it guilty in 1945).
And although Rush's attempt to reflect Obama's Alinsky Rule #12 attack on him and the Republican Party directly back on Obama is probably inherently futile because of Obama's lack of negatives to exacerbate, I do think that an effective target other than Obama does exist. George Soros is one possiblity, and - if properly conducted - a counterattack on a MSM journalist might succeed. Although journalists are big boys who buy ink by the barrel, they do have a glass jaw. They can debate very effectively, but only when they are shooting fish in a barrel.
Rush and the rest of talk radio could call out individual journalists over their inability to debate on neutral territory. If a journalist had to defend the claim of journalistic objectivity in a venue where he did not control the microphone he could be reduced to a quivering mass of jello trying to parry the unvarnished truth about their coverage of the merits of the case against the war record of Bush and against that of Kerry - as well as the relevance of those merits as compared to the political records of the two candidates in the three decades after Vietnam. And the conduct of journalism during election night of 2000, when journalism exaggerated the strength of Gore v. Bush by calling states for Bush slowly and calling states for Gore quickly - so quickly that they had to retract their call of Florida for Bush, which ultimately turned the election.
The name of such scandals in history is legion, for they are many, and journalism - especially print journalism - is in financial trouble at least partly because journalism has sold its credibility for the election of Obama. And IMHO the attack on Rush is partly an effort to undermine journalism's critics who are pointing out the vacancy at the center of journalism's business model where journalism's credibility used to be.
Thats what the fight has to be about fairness for all or nothing. Because if its about journalism then all talk show hosts should have to do is call their shows news programs.
Quite true - with the caveat that the "conservative talk show host" does not claim superior objectivity as the "objective journalist" does. And that is fundamental to their respective programs. "News" reporting which didn't claim objectivity, hence moral superiority over the "conservative talk show host," would be a different thing from journalism as we know it.
And a talk show host who claimed objectivity would not be a "conservative" (I use scare quotes with "conservative" because the word does not do our philosophy justice since American conservatism is actually, in etymological terms, liberal and progressive - and favoring liberty and progress is not "conservative" in any other context than preserving the American tradition and Constitution. Anywhere else, those attitudes would not be "conservative." Destroying the freedom to progress by, for instance, developing our petroleum reserves, at what some call the hazard of climate change, is what would be conservative).
In reality the difference between the "objective journalist" and the "conservative talk show host" is the difference between a sophist and a philosopher (using the etymological definition of the latter term). I cannot undertake to pinpoint the difference between "objectivity" and "wisdom." Is there, after all, such a thing as "unwise objectivity?" And yet it would be risky for anyone to openly claim superior wisdom to a debating opponent because that is inherently arrogant:sophist1542, earlier sophister (c.1380), from L. sophista, sophistes, from Gk. sophistes, from sophizesthai "to become wise or learned," from sophos "wise, clever," of unknown origin. Gk. sophistes came to mean "one who gives intellectual instruction for pay," and, contrasted with "philosopher," it became a term of contempt. Ancient sophists were famous for their clever, specious arguments.philosopherIt is a form of arrogance to claim to be above labels, above "left" and "right" - especially when the person who does so then labels his debate opponent "conservative" or "right wing" or, the now-obsolete favorite, a "right wing cold warrior." It is a form of humility to accept a label when it fits. Said differently, the only way to even attempt to be objective is to assume that you are inherently subjective, inherently not objective. Only then will you make full disclosure of what you want to be true before discussing what you believe to be true.O.E. philosophe, from L. philosophus, from Gk. philosophos "philosopher," lit. "lover of wisdom," from philos "loving" + sophos "wise, a sage."
"Pythagoras was the first who called himself philosophos, instead of sophos, 'wise man,' since this latter term was suggestive of immodesty." [Klein]
Modern form with -r appears c.1325, from an Anglo-Fr. or O.Fr. variant of philosophe, with an agent-noun ending. . . .
I note all of the above to explain that there is no room in the "objective journalism" tent for a "conservative." Let a "conservative" claim to be a journalist, and there will be war. Because the journalist takes his own objectivity, and thus moral superiority, for granted as a birthright - a veritable "title of nobility" as the Constitution puts (and prohibits) it. And of course the journalist is supported in that claim by the "liberal," the "moderate" and the "progressive" (none of whom, after all, holds any principle above the motive of getting favorable publicity from the journalist - or the journalist would not award them that positive label).
American democracy survived its first century without much in the way of the investigative and accountability journalism we associate with newspapers. That kind of journalism didn't start to spread until the end of the 19th century. When Thomas Jefferson said he preferred newspapers without government to government without newspapers, he wasn't referring to anything we'd recognize as our local paper, says Stephen Bates, professor of journalism at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and Slate contributor. The pre-modern press was captive of political parties, and their pages were filled with partisan fodder. What Jefferson was applauding was the newspapers' capacity as a forum for debate (and sometimes slander), not exposé.
If newspapers really want to regain relevance, they will print news that is not so easily dismissed as liberal.
. . . but if the very definition of "news" prevents that, that creates an inherent problem.
Conservatism counsels us to "count your blessings" and to concern yourself with things that do not change.
If the news is negative "If it bleeds, it leads," and superficial "There's nothing more worthless than yesterday's newspaper," "news" is a close cousin to radicalism. Inherently.
Another inherent issue with "conservative" journalism is the claim of journalism to be objective. Because subjectivity is simply the assumption of one's own objectivity, any claim of one's own objectivity is self-falsifying. And yet commercial journalism lives and dies by that very claim.
I conclude that "conservative journalism" is an oxymoron.
To support the "Fairness" Doctrine you have to do the three things that Steve Glorioso does in the segment:
- claim that left wing perspectives are shut out of AM radio,The rise and fall of Air America puts paid to the first of those contentions. De minimus market for explicitly left wing talk radio exists. Hence, there is no proof that broadcasters discriminate against purveryors thereof.
- claim that other media than AM radio are insignificant,Aaron Barnhardt handled the second assertion well, mentioning the tv commedy (that's left wing comedy) shows with wide reach and significant audience.and - the biggie -
- claim that conservatives can't prove, anecdotes aside, that journalism is not objective.First, I would argue that no proof is needed, since the presumption must be in favor of freedom and against censorship, which is what advocates of anything like the Fairness Doctrine actually intend. In earnest of that position, I support and actually endorse the idea of having a network of left wing radio stations in the country. I even have a proposed name for it - it should be called, "National Public Radio." Making its tendency official would be an improvement.
Second, as an employee of a newspaper Aaron Barnhardt cannot be an open, full-throated advocate for the fact that journalism is biased - much less for the easily proven proposition that journalism is a bias. As demonstrated by the fact that in principle an entire great metropolis theoretically could grow, gradually over the course of a couple of decades, without ever generating the kind of incident which would make a great story. But let just one of the buildings in that metropolis burn down - and that would be a story.
Simon praised the Internet as a "marvelous tool" for information delivery, but produces little in the way of original reporting.
"Instead, it leeches that reporting from mainstream news publications, whereupon aggregating Websites and bloggers contribute little more than repetition, commentary and froth."
Let's play that thru our trusty disgronifier and get the reality:
"The News" is froth, almost exclusively. That's what it means when journalists say, "There's nothing more worthless than yesterday's newspaper" (which is just another way of saying, "Meet your new deadline for today's newspaper" - you can always find something to say, and claim it is important).
"The News" is also negative - "No news is good news" is a true saying, because good news "isn't news."
The claim that "journalism is the first draft of history" is either false or shocking, because historians worthy of the name shy away from writing about current events. And because "First reports are always wrong," and because journalism is always selling. It is always selling journalism, which means it is always selling froth. Froth which is slanted to inflate the importance of journalism, which means (since journalism doesn't pick the crops or capture thieves or design or make widgets) that journalism inherently tends to criticize and second-guess the people who do do those things.
Because of that, journalism has an inherent political tendency. And it gives politicians who promote that same tendency favorable labels. Such as "liberal" (Americans favor liberty, after all) and "progressive" (Americans believe in progress) and "moderate" (who can object to the classical virtue of moderation?). Journalism never labels people it agrees with as extreme, or on a "wing" of anything. But it labels people who disagree with its perspective "conservative" (you may think that's not a negative label, but marketers don't generally salivate over the idea of plastering "Old!!" on boxes to put on store shelves), or "right wing."
Web sites certainly tend to repeat "the news," but I for one do not enjoy the froth which is "news" as a general proposition - I essentially never listen to network news, because I consider "news" to generally be irritating tendentiousness. I want perspective, and thoughtful reflection on events and political actors. I want commentary. Including, importantly, the ability to interject my own commentary into a serious discussion. What journalism sells, OTOH, is arrogant claims of its own importance and relevance.
For several decades, most of the ingenuity that liberal academics have invested in First Amendment analysis has aimed to justify limiting the core activity that the amendment was written to protect -- political speech. These analyses treat free speech as not an inherent good but as a merely instrumental good, something justified by serving other ends -- therefore something to be balanced against, and abridged to advance, other goods.
It's not just "liberal academics" who exert themselves in that direction - ironic and irrational as it may seem, the associated press does exactly the same thing. The public didn't particularly favor McCain-Feingold; it polled very low as a priority of the public. The people who backed it and successfully promoted its passage were the people who consider themselves "the press" and "the fourth estate." Why would they do that? Simple - they are associated. They are monochromatic; if you miss ABC news read the New York Times, if you miss the Times just listen to ABC News - and so on. So de facto, the (self-defined) "press" is not the people exercising its right to speak and to publish our opinions, "the press" as the Associated Press defines the term is an entity, namely, itself.
Now, the telegraph and the Associated Press didn't exist until the middle of the Nineteenth Century - so the Associated Press was not, and could not have been, written into the Constitution in the First Amendment. But what we have instead of a free press is a unified press which declares itself to be objective and has succeeded in establishing that template for the thinking of America over a span of a half-dozen generations. But since it and its membership exist to promote themselves first of all, it is only natural that many politicians would go along and get along with the unified "press." And just as natural for journalists to reward those who do so with positive labels such as "progressive - and "liberal," and to punish politicians who have principles they place above going along with "the press" with negative labels such as "right wing" and "conservative" (we are not actually conservative, it's just that we aren't radical and that looks "conservative" to the radicals in "the press."
I'm trying to imagine what these newspapers would say if the heads of Exxon, BP, Chevron, Shell, and Conoco-Phillips held a secret meeting to discuss competition, business models, pricing, etc.Adam Smith himself warned, "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."
As Rush points out, if you miss ABC News, just read The New York Times, if you don't see the Times look at CBS News, if you miss CBS News read The Washington Post, and so on.
The reason is simple - all major journalism outlets are associated. Officially. They belong the the Associated Press. And because they are associated, they have an interest in the credulity of the public for all of journalism. Because they are associated, every journalist has every other journalist's back when it comes to "objectivity" claims. Because they are associated, they share their reports in common - but although they thereby set the agenda of public discussion, they often enforce copyright claims against Free Republic and so forth.
Its becoming clear that MSM should be held accountable
Rush Limbaugh screens out calls about bias in the media, for the simple reason that if he didn't he would talk about nothing else.
In a way, I do the same thing - I stopped subscribing to the AIM Report after a year or two, back in the late 1970s because I was convinced. It became a twice-told tale. Once you are familiar with gravity, one more apple falling off the tree is of no great interest. The question has always been not if "the media" was biased to the left, but why? And what could be done about it. In the three decades since the Carter Administration I have thought long and hard about those issues, and come to some conclusions:
- Fiction is just the story someone wants to tell. Certainly fiction has great potential for political implications - but unless you are willing to contemplate outright censorship there is little point in being exercised about political tendencies in fiction. So the proper concern to be addressed isn't "bias in the media," it is the political tendency of the reporting of the news.
- And even with respect to the reporting of the news, nobody thinks that a newspaper, still less a broadcast report, can report everything that happens. So editing is inevitable. And since "Half the truth is often a great lie" (Franklin), there is wide scope for tendentiousness in what the editor reports, and what he ignores. So to say "freedom of speech, and of the press" is to say that any given reporter/publication can be tendentious. The actual scandal is not that there is tendentiousness in journalism, it is that anyone thinks that journalism is objective. And the biggest scandal of all is the associated press.
The Associated Press was founded in the middle of Nineteenth Century. It is a news wire service and, obviously, could not have existed until the telegraph came into use - several decades after the framing of the Constitution and the First Amendment. In the pre-AP era newspapers were mostly small weeklies whose publishers didn't have sources of news not in principle available to the general public. The opinion of the printer was mostly what the newspaper was about, so there was little or no presumption of objectivity about such a newspaper. When the AP came into existence as an aggressive monopoly (ruled in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1945), the dangers of its centralized propaganda power were obvious. In response to that challenge to its legitimacy, the AP argued that it consisted of a club of fiercely independent and competitive newspapers, and that as such the AP was objective.
But far from the independence of the newspapers taming any tendentiousness in the AP, the cost and concomitant need to maximize the value of the AP to the newspapers created an overwhelming unifying and homogenizing effect on the newspapers. The only way for the AP to be considered "objective" was for its reporters to be considered to be objective. And by extension, all reporters had to be considered to be objective. And the inevitable result was, and is, groupthink. And what kind of "thought" would all those reporters naturally rally around? Why, the importance of reporting, of course. Businesses may provide us food, shelter, and clothing, and police and military organizations may provide us safety. But reporters do the really important work of criticizing and second guessing everyone else!
And the political implication of that tendency among journalists is leftism. Leftist politicians merely go along and get along with journalists as their first, last, and only priority. It's not that the government controls "the media" (but only when Democrats are in the government), journalism and its interests controls the Democratic Party.
Thank You. This is very interesting and informative.
How did she help?She's part of the problem which elected these goons in the first place.
That is what reporters are supposed to do.
All very well to say. But the Homogeneous - they like to call themselves "associated" - press is a propaganda monopoly, and has been since the Civil War era. Its central feature is the taboo it enforces against any challenge to the claim that it consists entirely of nothing but objective journalists. Which is why Dan Rather was so sure that he could stonewall when his "Texas Air National Guard Memo" hoax was exposed within minutes of its broadcast, and thoroughly disproved within days. Rather was wrong in his belief that in 2004 he could perpetrate that hoax as an "October Surprise" on GW Bush, but you have to admit that he was correct in his assumption that it was impossible to create significant journalistic criticism of Dan Rather or of CBS News for broadcasting that hoax and stonewalling the subsequent Internet criticism.
The opposite was the case, tho, when the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth told the truth about John Kerry. Any newsman who had backed the SBVT for telling the inconveniet truth about John Kerry would have instantly been drummed out of the profession. As it is, the term "swift boating" is a way for Democrats and reporters, to slur on both the SBVT and whoever else tells the truth about a Democrat.
So while reporters may ask legitimately challenging questions of Republicans, they reserve the softball questions for the Democrats, and outright hoaxes (see "Palin, Sarah") targeted at Republicans. Had reporters done the slightest bit of investigative journalism and analysis from anything other than a left-wing perspective, the electorate would have known before November that Obama's best friends were racists and/or terrorists.
Because all things public eventually get taken over by those on the left. Its the venue that lets them feel best about themselves.Why did they stop being politically neutral?
They didn't stop being objective; they never started. Journalism as we know it traces back, not to the founding era, but to the middle of the 19th Century and the founding of the Associated Press monopoly (the AP was found to be in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1945).
The centralized propaganda power of the AP was obvious, and it naturally aroused suspicion and challenge. The AP replied that since it consisted of member newspapers which famously didn't agree on much of anything, the AP itself was objective.
But there is in fact something that all members of the AP must agree with the AP about. Namely, the importance of AP journalism and the objectivity of AP journalists. The AP and its members thereby flatter each other and themselves, and acceptance of flattery leads directly to arrogance.
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