Skip to comments.The Right to Know
Posted on 05/12/2008 5:31:32 PM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion
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News is the first draft of history", or so we're told. In truth, the "news" reported by mass media seldom reflects the crucial events of the moment. News reports of the summer of 1914 treated the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand as a trivial Balkan matter, of little interest to anyone in the more civilized areas of Europe. Similarly, you'd look long and hard in the late spring of 1950 for any mention of a place called "Korea" in U.S. papers. "News", as the major media describes it, is almost without exception trivia.
"There's nothing more worthless than yesterday's newspaper."
That is another way of telling a reporter, "Meet your deadline!" But it captures the ineluctable superficiality which the deadline imposes on journalism.
But the deadline was not at all the same issue in the days before the telegraph and the Associated Press newswire. Previously most "newspapers" were weeklies - and some had no deadline at all, and the printer simply went to press when he was good and ready. It is the value, and the expense, of the AP newswire which puts the pressure on the newspaper to meet short deadlines.
The fact that Korea wasn't a major topic in journalism prior to the invasion which started the Korean War, and that journalism was determined that foreign policy not be considered a live issue in the 1992 election when such an emphasis would have favored the sitting Republican President and Reagan heir over the untested Arkansas governor, shows that journalism's vaunted "objectivity" is hype rather than reality.
That proof is unnecessary, considering that hyping your own objectivity is the very definition of subjectivity. And that applies to journalism even if journalists restrict their hype to a mutual admiration society approach rather than direct self-praise. After all, praising those who agree with you is no different than praising yourself. Just as criticizing those you disagree with, as Obama criticized the Founding Fathers, is a form of self-praise.
Fox News Ad Draws Protests
Even if the ad were false it would be an encouraging thing which We-the-People should be behind.
Why? Because the fact that all other Associated Press outlets go along and get along with each other is the great scandal of American politics.
The Associated Press is a conspiracy in restraint of trade. It started out, when telegraphy was expensive, with a legitimate-seeming reason for existence. In the Internet era, there is NO justification for the combination of all our newspapers into a de facto cartel. NONE.
Freedom of the press demands nothing less than the dismantling of the Associated Press."People of the same trade seldom meet together even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public or some contrivance to raise prices." - Adam SmithThat is precisely what is going on right now, WRT the effort to cartelize the posting of news on the internet. It is not the price alone that is at issue - it is precisely the tendency, one might easily suspect the pact, of members of the AP to refuse to compete on reliability in any serious way.
re: my #153:
There is no way to prove that Associated Press Journalism is not a single entity which is de facto in cahoots with the Democratic Party in its present "liberal" incarnation. Admittedly that might be called an unprovable negative, but there is so much history of correlation between the "two" entities as to raise the question. Current issues include not only the obvious reluctance of Associated Press Journalism to publicize the dramatic evidence of the corruption of an organization, ACORN, with which the sitting Democratic president is so clearly associated but also the clear support of Associated Press Journalism for the Democratic Party's propaganda campaign against white men who aren't Democrats (and the denial of the existence of, or extreme demonization of, blacks who aren't Democrats).
The mere fact that it is impossible to prove that Associated Press Journalism is not a single entity which is de facto in cahoots with the Democratic Party (irrespective of the truth of the matter) should, it seems, delegitimate the idea that broadcast journalism is intrinsically in the public interest. The fact that there is so much evidence in favor of the proposition that Associated Press Journalism such an entity would even seem to be grounds for a civil suit and, considering the evidence that it is in league with ACORN and that ACORN is a corrupt organization, even a RICO lawsuit for triple damages for some very substantial torts.
They're beating a dead horse.
Who wants to wait for the news once a day when you can get it in real time with 24-hour news channels and the public Internet?
My daughter was shocked to learn that there was a time when I listened to "all news all the time" radio stations. Her shock was due to the fact that ever since she was aware of what was going on, I have treated "the news" as a commercial for a product I wouldn't buy on a bet. Which is exactly what it is and, after cogitating on the question for decades, I think I can explain why.
I have always gravitated to the editorial pages of newspapers (which is why I latched onto the Wall Street Journal in the 1970s when Robert Bartley was the editorial page editor). Even a liberal editorial page is preferable, generally, to the "hard news" sections of a typical newspaper - even one with a good editorial page. Coincidentally - or not - the newspapers of the founding era, and up to the Civil War era, were pretty much like the editorial pages of today's newspapers. Those newspapers, lacking a source of news which, in principle, any ordinary citizen could not know before the paper printed it, were more about the opinion of the editor than about "the news." A cause, and an effect, of that situation was that "newspapers" of that era were usually weeklies rather than dailies.
But with the advent of the telegraph and the Associated Press newswire, the newspaper business was transformed. The expense and exclusivity of "the wire" meant that newspaper offices had the latest news from all over the country, and ultimately from all over the world, to which the general public could not be privy until the local newspaper printed it (or, if the local papers did not print it, until the word seeped out by word of mouth and letters and so forth, just as the case had been with all news in the pre-AP days). So the AP gave the newspapers an aura of knowledge, provided that the veracity and objectivity of the reports on "the wire" was taken for granted. That aura of knowledgeability was a valuable (and expensive) franchise, and one to be nurtured assiduously by the newspapers.
To optimize the value of that franchise it was only logical that the newspapers would conduct a propaganda campaign to the effect that reporters - whether local reporters working for the individual newspaper or remote reporters working for different members of the AP, or employed directly by the AP itself - were objective. To put it bluntly, membership in the AP put you in cahoots with all other members of the AP. The members of the AP, who were famously fractious and independent before the AP, had in fact jumped together into a blender. With the result that if you've seen one news report, you've seen them all - within the AP there cannot be truly independent reporting.
The irony of a propaganda campaign promoting one's own organization as being "objective" is that "taking one's own objectivity for granted" is an awfully good definition of subjectivity.
Today, of course, the AP newswire is pretty much a dead horse. On the web you can read reports from distant places by individuals - people you don't know, apart from whatever reputation they may develop by reporting independently from their own locale and their own individual perspective. FReepers, for example. But precisely because of the precariousness of their situation, the membership of the AP is lashing out with a vengeance. McCain-Feingold, and the Obama presidency, are results of that.
An interesting article, and especially an interesting reply at #9 with its "clarifi[cation of] what I believe for a Free Republic audience." I'm pointing it out to some folks who might be interested.
You note that there are hardly any conservative papers left, but indicate that there were some fifty years ago. I'm old enough to remember not just Ronald Reagan but Senator Joseph McCarthy, and IMHO there wasn't really any conservative journalism even in the 1950s, when I was in my teens. I stipulate that there were conservative editorial pages - as the Wall Street Journal has a conservative editorial page today - but IMHO "straight news" is anticonservative, inherently.Today, far too many conservatives have forgotten that the First Amendment was not written by the ACLU but rather by the Founding Fathers who believed a free press was essential to preserve constitutional government.
I agree with you, but not precisely. If you wanted to trouble to follow the link to this article and its hundreds and hundreds of replies, you would see me struggling to get my arms around the issue of "bias in the media." Coming at it from a libertarian perspective, and not looking for a conspiracy by trying to understand why journalism had the bias that it so transparently (once one looks the facts in the eye) did, and does, have.most of the major newspaper companies . . . decided the only way to survive was . . . to provide an economy of scale. There are some things which can be done much more cheaply by one group of 50 or 100 newspapers than by any of them individually, and newspaper owners in the last couple of decades made a deliberate decision that the cost of debt service was not only worth the expense but was an unavoidable expense
But, to my surprise, I find myself having produced something very like a "conspiracy theory." I have found a villain. You note that
. . . and that is my villain. But it didn't happen yesterday, it started in the middle of the Nineteenth Century. Prior to that time newspapers were pretty open about their politics, and famously fractious in their independence. But those early newspapers generally weren't dailies; most of them were weeklies and there were newspapers which had no fixed deadline and just went to press when the printer was good and ready. That was the milieu of the newspaper business in the founding era when the First Amendment was written and ratified.
Then lightning struck. It is known as "the telegraph." Suddenly the newspapers which had operated on a business model which was more about selling the perspective of the printer were in a position to print information to which the general public could not be privy until the local newspaper committed the story from the AP newswire to print and started selling the newspaper. In a (historical) instant, the business changed from printing the opinion of the printer to printing stories from the newswire, with the "editorial page" thrown in for the printers opinions. There was no hiding the concentration of propaganda power which the AP entailed, and challenges were made on that basis. Those challenges were fended off by noting that the AP member newspapers notoriously didn't agree on much of anything, and claiming that therefore the AP itself was objective.
That sounded logical, sort of, and people bought it because the alternative was to hinder the ability of the public to get news reports in days which historically had taken weeks to arrive from distant places. But in reality the AP was a blender which homogenized newspapers even while the editorial pages retained their independence. De facto, the "fractiously independent" newspapers became mere fronts for the AP. You see that in the absolute refusal of any journalist to question the "objectivity" of any other journalist - precisely the mechanism Dan Rather and CBS counted on to initially sell and, once the cover was blown by FR and later by bloggers, to stonewall the obvious political motivation of, the "Texas Air National Guard Memo" hoax."People of the same trade seldom meet together even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public or some contrivance to raise prices." - Adam SmithSmith goes on to say that on that account it was a bad thing for tradesmen to assemble together, and that although it could not be entirely prevented in a free country, the government should certainly do nothing to promote it. Certainly Smith was right - and certainly that problem is even more difficult when the "tradesmen" in question are dealing not with things but with information and ideas. But that does not change the fact that we-the-people need, not "a free press," but free and independent presses. The singular "the press" we have presumes to wear the name "the press" as a title of nobility which it presumes entitles it to prerogatives not available to the people generally.
Newspaper sale$ decline should be blamed on the journos
By Jack Kelly:People who work at journalism full time ought to be able to do a better job of it than people for whom it is a hobby. But that's not going to happen as long as we "professional" journalists ignore stories we don't like and try to hide our mistakes. We think of ourselves as "gatekeepers." But there is not much future in being a gatekeeper when the walls are down.
With the internet in being, the "walls" of communication delay between distant places are obliterated. The AP as a homogenizing influence on American journalism no longer has a justifying rationale. According to this interesting web site put up by a college teacher, the AP was found to be in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act 'way back in 1945; today IMHO it should be sued into oblivion.
Article 1 Section 9:No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States
IOW, "the press" or "journalist" cannot legally be a title of nobility which makes "some animals more equal than others."
OTOH, the First Amendment does not apply to the Internet, the radio, or even the telegraph - at least not directly. They weren't invented yet, and were not and could not have been mentioned - but that doesn't matter. It doesn't matter for two reasons: first, the Constitution is a (truly) progressive document:
Article 1 Section 8:The Congress shall have power . . . 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 . . .. . . which means that even tho those particular inventions lay in the future, they were in principle contemplated by the framers and not specifically excluded from the freedom which is
the mission of the Constitution:We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.The First Amendment, indeed the entire Bill of Rights, was opposed by Madison and the Federalists not because they opposed the rights but because they feared that the construction of Constitution would not adhere to the
Ninth Amendment:The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.That is, they feared that the Bill of Rights would be treated not as a floor under the rights of the people, but as a ceiling limiting them. Which is precisely what happens when the government censors a new communications technology on the pretext that it was not mentioned in the First Amendment.
"There are many intellectually impressive conservative advocates and opinion leaders, but the ideology does not seem to make for good journalists. In contrast, any examination of the nations top reporters over the past half-century would show that, in the main, liberals do make good journalists . . ."
Target-rich environment. But, IMHO, this is actually correct - you simply have to understand what it means. The fundamental unexamined assumption is that journalism is what is important. Why would that be so?
Journalism is the "church of what's happening now," and is inherently superficial. The saying, "There's nothing more worthless than yesterday's newspaper" is true - and that just goes to show how much today's newspaper is worth. The Bible is worth as much today as it was yesterday, and will be worth tomorrow - yet today's newspaper will be worthless tomorrow. And you are surprised that conservatives don't do journalism?". . . in the tradition of objective news coverage."Now here is where it really gets rich. To really discuss the author's fallacious perspective in this regard, let's quote him more extensively:[journalists are a pack of liberals] but, and this is a mega-but, even though the mainstream media are by this measure liberal, ending the discussion at this point would be a major disservice to both the press and the public. While the personnel tend to share an ideological worldview, most have a personal and professional commitment to the objective presentation of information, a commitment that is not shared by the conservative media.Give this writer credit, he urges that journalists admit their "liberal" perspective (tho he presumably would never occur to him to put "liberal" is scare quotes when, in a tradition started by journalism in the 1920s, it is used as a euphemism for the opposite of classical liberalism). But the conservative media generally have no choice but to declare their perspective rather than claiming to be objective. A conservative effectively says, "I'm a conservative, and you can take that into account in evaluating my analysis." The (liberal) journalist says, "I'm an objective journalist, and this is what is true." Or, as Walter Cronkite (in his retirement a very "liberal" commentator) famously put it, ". . . and that's the way it is . . ."
Which of those formulations is humble, and which is arrogant? The conservative says, "In my opinion," and the "liberal" journalist says that after he has spoken there is no room for argument. To proclaim yourself to be objective is to mark yourself as arrogant and hopelessly subjective. The conservative writes for the present and the future, so he wants to be right and to subject his thoughts to scrutiny and debate. The "objective" journalist writes for the very immediate present, and changes the subject at his own discretion whenever events overtake what the journalist said yesterday. Considering that the journalist has a finite bandwidth to fill, and the world is such a big place, no one could expect the journalist to tell all the truth. And yet - as Benjamin Franklin put it - "Half the truth is often a great lie." Even if everything a journalist says is true, there must be room for varying opinions as to what is actually important. And this the self-proclaimed "objective" journalist effectively denies.
The difference between the "objective" journalist and the "conservative" commentator is the difference between the sophist and the philosopher of ancient Greece. The sophist argued from the assumption of his own wisdom, and became famous for specious, self-serving arguments. The philosopher rebutted the sophist by saying, "I do not claim to be wise, but I love wisdom and want to hear your facts and your logic." The journalist is a hit-and-run artist who insinuates his point and then changes the subject.
Political correctness would have no traction at all, were it not for the fact that, as a mechanism for delegitimating rational thought, it serves the purposes of those whose business it is to promote themselves and their own argumentation above facts and logic.
It serves, that is, the interests of the complaining professions - lawyers, journalists, and in fact all the usual "liberal" suspects.
Which lefty in the MSM is going to be the first to break away and admit theyve been pushing the biggest fraud in history?CO2 never was a problem and all the machinations and deceptions exposed by these files prove that it was the greatest deception in history
There are aspects of US law - famously, McCain-Feingold with its privilege for Associated Press journalism to criticize politicians while it presumes to deny that right to the people - which are predicated on (make no sense in the absence of) the assumption that Associated Press journalism is objective. It is easy to show that that assumption is absurd.
To me the issue of holding the promoters of that fallacy to book is of such moment as to make it, in practical terms, the only important issue. Without that fallacy, Democrat politicians would stand naked of defense for a multitude of sins - the Globalony fraud not least among them. Indeed, it would be interesting to conduct a contest on FR to try to call to mind all the frauds perpetrated by AP journalism. The list would include "Swift Boating" as a smear designed to insinuate that the Swift Boat veterans were proven to have lied about John Kerry's war record (see To Set the Record Straight). And the fatuous notion
that there was some reason to suppose that the Duke Lacrosse Team was guilty of raping Crystal Mangum. And "McCarthy as facist" fraud. In fact, Ann Coulter's books are loaded with examples.
- Until Proven Innocent:
- Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case
by Stuart Taylor , KC Johnson
And it just seems to me that the correct mechanism for bringing AP journalism to book would be a civil lawsuit, preferably claiming treble damages under RICO.
I posit that the internet (web, blogs, twitter, facebook, etc, etc) has completely mooted McCain-Feingold. Sarah Palin uses her post to completely circumvent the Dinosaur Media.
“If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it really make a sound?”
“If a telecast is aired, but no one saw it, how do we know if it was ever broadcast?”
But then you always were an optimist!
So few people actually pay attention . . . and what they do hear, comes from screamingly tendentious sources such as self-hyped "objective" journalism.
If they actually paid attention, Democrats would become an endangered species.
Nevertheless, we should be grateful to [Comedy Central's] jelly-spined executives for reminding us that the cardboard heroes of the American media are your go-to guys for standing up to entirely fictitious threats. But for real ones? Not so much.The reason American journalists set themselves up as "cardboard heroes" is painfully obvious - because they can. What could be more obvious than that it is profitable to do so? And what could be more obvious than that they can get away with it because they are in cahoots with each other - and that the mechanism which enabled and promoted their cooperation is the news service in general and the Associated Press in particular.
As a youth I had a black cocker spaniel who would make a fuss if the mailman came - but if a stranger showed up he would just wag his tail. I have often thought that when "the cardboard heroes of the American media" look in the mirror they should see, not a "watchdog," but the visiage of my cocker spaniel.
For protection from real threats, you want the kind of person who goes to church to be reminded of the transcendent - and who takes a camera to a Tea Party rally in Washington wondering if anyone else will be there but Obama goons.
Democrats are cowards for refusing to go on Fox. They would be glad to, if they had facts and logic rather than showmanship behind their snake oil, but they don't - so they stay away from the exposure. The trouble with going on Fox is that you will be asked the second question. If you have the facts and logic to back up your case, that's no problem. Conservatives do have facts and logic behind their cases; it is their defining characteristic.and then turn around and call republicans stupid for going on any of the other networks.
Journalism as we know it did not exist until the era of the Civil War. Prior to that, newspapers were fractiously independent of each other, and didn't accept claims that competing newspapers' reporters were objective. In fact, the newspapers of the pre-Civil War era were more like National Review than like The New York Times. Most were weeklies, and some had no deadline at all and just went to press when the printer decided he was ready. More than modern "hard news," they were about the opinions of their printers. Presses of that ilk naturally were ordinarily associated with political parties. The whole paper was what we'd now think of as an editorial page - and the printers couldn't and didn't try to make that a secret. That was the milieu when the First Amendment was written and ratified.Its hypocritical and pathetic.What changed that?
The telegraph. The telegraph, and the Associated Press. Suddenly the printer had available to him a font of news stories to which his readership could not be privy before he printed them. A wonderful thing for the printer of a paper! But, at a price. It was expensive in money, and the printer needed to get value out of his AP newswire. How to do that, when the printer didn't employ, didn't even know, the reporters who produced the cornucopia of newswire stories? How to vouch for the veracity of the stories? Simple - you simply launch a propaganda campaign to the effect that all reporters are objective!
Here's a news flash for you: journalists actually aren't objective! How do I know? Well, you can do a lot of ponderous research, such as (A Measure of Media Bias (research shows Drudge/Fox centrist, NYT far liberal) ), to prove it - but you need not expect that journalists will do anything but stonewall the results, no matter how thorough the research might be. Far simpler to just be direct - journalists are not objective because they say that they are objective. Simple - the only way anyone can even attempt to be objective is to start your analysis with an up-front declaration of your own interest in the question you are analyzing. If you are arguing that more roads should be built, you declare up front if your father-in-law would be the one to build them, and you would even declare your ownership of a car which would be more useful if there were more roads. Declaring your own objectivity is the precise opposite of that, so you should take it for granted that journalists who never declare anything but their own "objecitivity" are not merely not objective, they are heavily biased.
What is the inherent bias of journalism? Simple again - journalists are biased in favor of the notion that journalists are heroes. In Mark Steyn's expression, they are cardboard heroes - great at attacking "dastardly villains" such as bankers who actually pose no threat, but impotent and cowardly in the presence of actual villains such as ruthless terrorists who'll behead you for crossing them. Cowards who boast that "you never argue with someone who buys ink by the carload" - and then pick on some poor defenseless schlub precisely because he can't effectively argue back, and wouldn't hurt a fly anyway.
How does that bias of journalism play into politics? Simple again - "liberal" politicians are those who cooperate with journalists and essentially exist in symbiosis with them. You can tell that by the way journalists give them positive labels. Americans favored liberalism - which was a word for the advocacy of liberty - so journalists began to call politicians in symbiosis with them "liberals." The meaning of the word "liberal" was inverted in the 1920s, according to Saffire's New Political Dictionary. Journalists also, alternatively, call politicians in symbiosis with them "progressives." What American doesn't favor progress? And as to the label applied to "liberals'" opponents, well, I'll believe that "conservative" is intended as a positive label as soon as you convince me that marketers don't want to label their products New!
Ann Coulter has pointed out that if she goes on a book tour and is put on TV, journalists always "balance" her with one (usually more than one) "liberal" commentator to argue with her. in addition to the "objective journalist" him/herself, who will always attack as well (the usual result is that Ann has to really fight to get a word in edgewise - and as quick-tongued as she is, that's saying something). If a "liberal" goes on a book tour, when have you ever seen him/her "balanced" by a conservative? When have you ever seen him/her attacked by the "objective" journalist?
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2518098/postsNot only is there no hypocrisy involved in advocating that conservative politicians go on Fox but keep the "objective" journalist at arm's length, it is IMHO actually pathetic to think that they are obligated to do otherwise.
Excellent article. Bookmarking.The laissez-faire or classical liberal approach regards freedom of speech as a fundamental individual right that government must protect, whereas the progressive approach views speech as worthy of protection only insofar as it helps promote the public interest.The problem with the "public interest" standard is of course, that is assumes that the government defines the public interest. The government consisting of a bunch of incumbent politicians, its idea of "the public interest" is "incumbent reelection" pretty much.
Big Journalism, aka Associated Press journalism, promotes the conceit of its own objectivity, which pretty is much the same thing as claiming that its own perspective is congruent with "the public interest."But journalism's interest is in interesting the public - and what interests the public is often antithetical to "the public interest." "Man Bites Dog" and "If it bleeds, it leads" interest the public but are not in the public interest.
The only way to even attempt to be objective is to take into consideration any reasons why you might not be objective. That is the exact opposite of claiming to be objective. So by claiming objectivity, journalists demonstrate conclusively that they are not even trying to be objective.
Once dispose of the assumption that journalism is objective and embodies the public interest, and the entire rationale for censorship and "campaign finance reform" collapses. Freedom of speech and press are rights of the people, not privileges of noblemen called "journalists."
Some situation exists, whose negative aspects the anointed propose to eliminate. Such situation is routinely characterized as a "crisis," even though all human situations have negative aspects, and even though evidence is seldom asked or given to show how the situation at hand is either uniquely bad or threatening to get worse. Sometimes the situation described as a "crisis" has in fact already been getting better for years.
Those who attribute detrimental result Z to the policies instituted are dismissed as "simplistic" for ignoring the "complexities" involved, as "many factors" went into determining the outcome. The burden of proof is put on the critics to demonstrate to a certainty that these policies alone were the only possible cause of the worsening that occurred. No burden of proof whatever is put on those who had so confidently predicted improvement. Indeed, it is often asserted that things would have been even worse, were it not for the wonderful programs that mitigated the inevitable damage from other factors.. . . which is just a specific example of the general proposition that "those who had so confidently predicted improvement" have, and relentlessly exploit, a propaganda advantage over those "critics" upon whom "The burden of proof is put . . . to demonstrate to a certainty that these policies alone were the only possible cause."
That advantage in propaganda power arises from the unity of purpose between "the anointed" and the (nominally free and independent, but actually associated) press. That unity of purpose inheres in the fact that the associated press is good at criticizing, and at evading responsibility - and equally good at rewarding people outside of the associated press who, for fun and profit, go along and get along with the associated press.
To put it baldly, the economics of wire service journalism requires journalists to all become fellow travelers - and only principled opposition can motivate politicians to contend with the journalists and all their fellow travelers.Obama's Speech in Racine Channeled Thomas Sowell circa 1996, (and not in a good way)
All American Blogger ^ | 7-1-10 | Duane Lester
Words mean things - but what does the word "journalist" actually mean?Literally, "jour" means "day" - and a journalist meets a daily deadline (or shorter, in the case of "breaking news"). From that perspective, it used to bother me when Rush would say, "I am not a journalist." But on further consideration, I have decided that we are better off recognizing the inherent negatives of journalism:
- The deadline which defines journalism ineluctably produces superficiality. "There's nothing more worthless than yesterday's newspaper."
- News inherently emphasizes the negative. "No news is good news" - because generally, good news "isn't news." If it's bad news when a house burns down, it must be good news when a house gets built - but whereas the destructive fire is a sudden surprise, the construction of the house is a gradual process which, as Abraham Lincoln suggested with his "framing timbers" allusion, should surprise no one. And therefore isn't news (actually, it probably will make the newspaper - in the form of a paid advertisement seeking a buyer for the house).
- News is inherently unrepresentative. "Man Bites Dog" is the headline the editor wants to print, and "Dog Bites Man" - i.e., whatever is usual - makes page 13 below the fold in the unlikely event that it's in the paper at all.
- Journalism as we know it is extremely biased. Here you would probably expect to hear a litany of examples, but instead I simply refer to the fact that every journalist promotes the conceit that all journalists are objective -and that belief in his own objectivity is the defining characteristic of the man who is not objective.So I say, accept the fact that "these people" are indeed journalists, doing exactly what journalists do - which is, and ought to be seen as, disreputable.
You will say, "but what about the First Amendment and freedom of the press?" To which I reply that freedom of the press is a wonderful idea, and we ought to try it. Journalism presumes to call itself "the press," as if it were a class separate from we-the-people. But in fact, under the Constitution there are only three subdivisions - the federal government, the state governments, and the people. People who don't own a press aren't a separate species from those who do - they simply are people who don't own a press yet. More than anything, the First Amendment reference to freedom of "the press" is supposed to mean that anyone who decides to spend the money for a press (and ink and paper) is allowed to do so.
Those who style themselves "the press" actually depend for their self-definiton on the scarcity and expense of presses, not the "freedom" thereof. If every Tom, Dick, and Harriet had a press, journalists calling themselves "the press" would be no big deal. And that is actually now the case. To all intents and purposes, FreeRepublic.com is a press, and you are able to read this posting (so be that JimRob and his moderators don't object) anywhere in the world.
But is FreeRepublic.com actually a "press" under the intent of the First Amendment, which was written long before the telegraph - let alone the Internet? Absolutely. First, because "the progress of science and useful arts" was contemplated by the framers of the Constitution:Article 1 Section 8.Under what logical framework is progress in the technology of communication excluded from the Constitution? If the Ninth Amendment means anything at all
The Congress shall have power . . . 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 . . .Amendment 9the First Amendment is a floor rather than a ceiling on our rights - and freedom of "the press" does not mean censorship of other, later, communication technologies. Else, can the newswires be censored because the telegraph isn't a printing press?
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
How Business Travelers Contributed to USA Today's Decline (Dinosaur Media DeathWatch)
Poynter Online ^ | September 5, 2010 | Adam Hochberg
the enemedia clobbered him for it.The record that was set in 1929 for the biggest stock market decline in one day was broken in 1987. But Ronald Reagan did nothing and the media clobbered him for it.
I don't know whether to laugh or cry about the term "the media." It tickles my vanity, I admit, to think that no matter how smart the conservative commentator - T. Sowell, exhibit A - there is a gap in their logic which I know how to fill. Ann Coulter, Rush Limabaugh, Mark Levin, you name them, I'll show you where they express that same block in their thinking. When it comes to "the media," nobody follows the money.
Thomas Sowell: Things go better when politicians do nothing
- First of all, "the media" isn't the problem, journalism is. Granted that movies and TV fiction are consistently tendentious, they follow, they don't lead. If journalism were conservative, those cowards would all be conservatives too. But even if not, they wouldn't be the problem they are, by any means, if journalism weren't putting its propaganda wind at their back. In any event nobody, least of all me, wants to even think about the censorship which would follow from any serious effort to control tendentiousness in fiction. The First Amendment is fine as is, we just have to think straight about its implications.
Censorship is off the table. Period. In fact, I argue for less censorship, not more.
- You're right then, Jaz, to modify the word "media" into something else, and something negative. But it seems shocking and revolting to people to understand journalism as intrinsically representing a problem for conservatives. Doesn't that mean that we must be in the wrong? By no means.
There are reasons why journalism - at least journalism as we have always thought of it - is inherently tendentious. Let me repeat that: journalism is inherently tendentious. It was not always so.
- Before the Civil War, that was not the case. Newspapers were famous for their opinionated natures - newspapers were about the opinions of their printers. Newspapers were tendentious in the founding era, and they have remained so ever since - but what is different now is that "journalism" speaks with a single voice.
- What can possibly have effected that transformation? What could have thrown all those competing voices into a Cousinart, reducing them all to leftist twaddle? I have considered the possibility that the high speed printing press did it, and that could have considerable merit. But when you get right down to it, there is a culprit hiding in plain sight with motive, opportunity, and the right timing. The thing that homogenized journalism is the telegraph. The telegraph, and the Associated Press."People of the same trade seldom meet together even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public or some contrivance to raise prices." - Adam SmithIn 1945 the Associated Press lost a case in the Supreme Court, which held that the AP was in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The Associated Press, whatever its obvious merits, also functions as a conspiracy against the public.
- The AP functions as a conspiracy against the public when it limits competition between journalists and journalism outlets. It does that by limiting its own membership, on the one hand, and by sustaining and coordinating one of the most massive propaganda campaigns in history - the one which promotes the fatuous conceit that all journalists are objective. That conceit is not merely fatuous, with no means of support other than repetition, it is actually self-negating in that belief in one's own objectivity is proof, not of objectivity but of its reverse. What is subjectivity, if not a belief in one's own objectivity?
Most of all, the claim of journalistic objectivity eliminates ideological competition - outside the backwater of the paper known as the "editorial page," which mostly exists to position the rest of the paper as being objective. The absence of ideological competition within journalism inevitably frees journalism to default to its own self interest, which is promotion of its own importance. And denigration of reality outside of its own interest, leading to the promotion of (journalism-influenced) government at the expense of individual initiative and private enterprise.
I said that I want less censorship, not more. McCain-Feingold is nothing but censorship - and it is no accident that it was journalism which was in the forefront of promoting its passage. Journalism, and the Democrat Party which is an adjunct of it (it makes more sense to think of the Democrat Party as following journalism, rather than leading and controlling it). When journalism calls itself "the press," it is planting the axiom that journalism has a monopoly on First Amendment freedom. But the Constitution has never supported the conception of any but two classes - the government and the people. First Amendment freedom from censorship is a right of the people. All of us, whether we own a printing press right now, or not.
- The signal merit of the Associated Press is the efficient use of the telegraph to spread news reports nationwide, and the conservation of communication bandwidth which that entails. But whereas telegraph lines were expensive and provided only a limited bandwith, in the era of the communications satellite and the fiber optic cable, bandwidth is dirt cheap.
In the Internet era, the useful work of the Associated Press is done. What remains of it is the mischief which it now, and always has, worked. The Associated Press should be sued into richly deserved oblivion.
Washington Examiner ^ | September 6, 2010 | Thomas Sowell
If you think about it at all, you realize that the only way to attempt to be objective is to declare up front all the reasons why you might not be objective.
And that implies that anyone who claims to be objective - i.e., journalists as we have known them all our lives - is not even trying to be objective.
Are there any reasons why journalists might not be objective? Of course - every business has its own interests. Some of the well-known interests of journalism are:
If journalists declared those interests before reporting their stories, they would be more objective. But, superficially, they might seem less so. And journalism - after all, the root "jour" is French for "day" - is about "what's happening now" rather than about perspective and the big picture.
- the need for public credulity, including the need for public credulity of journalism's claims of objectivity,
- the need to interest the public. The rules which journalists claim to be objective are actually rules to promote their own business by interesting the public.
- If it bleeds, it leads
- "'Man Bites Dog' not 'Dog Bites Man."
- "There's nothing more worthless than yesterday's newspaper" (i.e., "meet your deadline, tell the story first").The Associated Press and the rest of the wire services are useful to exploit scarce communication bandwidth. The wire services homogenize journalism, suppressing the individuality which was originally the hallmark of American newspapers. That homogenization does not make newspapers less tendentious - it magnifies the inherent tendency of the journalist to self-hype. Such individuality as is expressed in the editorial/op ed pages merely serves to "position" the rest of the newspaper (chiefly wire service material) as being objective.
The Internet is an expression of the technological fact that bandwidth now is very plentiful. The internet exposes the homogenization of journalism via wire services as the Nineteenth Century anachronism that it is.
The "objective journalism" emperor has no clothes, and no one in journalism can say so. Although I as an individual FReeper cannot drive that fact into the public discourse, via the internet I can publish it in a form which is accessible worldwide. It is up to talk radio and other opinion leaders to pick up the ball and run with it.
Once dispose of the baseless assumption that journalism is objective, and the idea of having journalists moderate televised political debates becomes risible. Dispense with that assumption, and the question becomes whether, and to what extent, politicians align themselves with the tendencies of journalism. And the answer becomes plain as the nose on your face.
Journalists assign positive labels to those who do align themselves with the interests of journalism, and negative labels to those who do not. I have my own Newspeak-English dictionary:
- objective :
- reliably promoting the interests of Big Journalism. (usage: always applied to journalists in good standing; never applied to anyone but a journalist)
- liberal :
- see "objective," except that the usage is reversed: (usage: never applied to any working journalist)
- progressive :
- see "liberal" (usage: same as for "liberal").
- see "liberal." (usage: same as for "liberal").
- centrist :
- see "liberal" (usage: same as for "liberal").
- conservative :
- rejecting the idea that journalism is a higher calling than providing food, shelter, clothing, fuel, and security; adhering to the dictum of Theodore Roosevelt that: "It is not the critic who counts . . . the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena (usage: applies to people who - unlike those labeled liberal/progressive/moderate/centrist, cannot become "objective" by getting a job as a journalist, and probably cannot even get a job as a journalist.)(antonym:"objective")
- right-wing :
- see, "conservative."
See, that's just the trouble - so many informed, educated and public spirited people (like you) actually believe that reporters are a separate class from "we the people."
There is nothing in the First Amendment, or anywhere else in the Constitution, which says or implies any such thing.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.
Just because journalists call themselves "the press" does not put them in a class separate from "the people." What, can I call myself "speech" and become privileged in some way over you? Do you not have the right to buy and operate a printing press? Are your rights lesser than someone else's, just because you haven't bought a printing press yet?
The actual problem is that the wire services have unified and homogenized journalism. Starting with the Associated Press, which began in 1848. Adam Smith famously stated thatThe "association" of newspapers via the AP performs the function of bringing journalists together in such a way as to enervate the competition among them. Why is it that no reporter will disagree with the thesis that "all journalists are objective?" Simple - journalists changed the business model of the newspaper business when they joined the AP. The AP gives each newspaper a cornucopia of news stories, but it is expensive and the newspaper must get value for that expense. The only way to do so is to vouch for the reporters on the other end of the wire whom the newspaper does not employ and may not even know. How does the newspaper do that? Simple - by promoting the conceit that "all journalists are objective."
The massive propaganda campaign in which we have all been immersed all our lives, to the effect that "all journalists are objective," is nothing other than " a conspiracy against the public." It is a conspiracy to promote the conceit that journalists are better citizens than you or I, with the implication that the country should actually be run by journalists, with "the people" going to the polls pro forma and simply rubber stamping the decisions of the journalists.
Well, guess what! Journalists are a special interest.
Journalism's interest is in promoting the credulity of the people in accepting the confidence game I just outlined. "If it bleeds it leads," "Man Bites Dog rather than Dog Bites Man," and "There's nothing more worthless than yesterday's newspaper" are defining characteristics of the interest of journalism (which lies in interesting the public) which is an entirely different matter than "the public interest." Many things would interest the public but would be illegal, precisely because they are deemed to not be in the public interest. Reports of bad news generally interest the public - but of course the incidents themselves are not in the public interest.
The wisest and most cautious of us all frequently gives credit to stories which he himself is afterwards both ashamed and astonished that he could possibly think of believing . . .The public interest would be far better served if the public learned to treat journalism with a lot more "incredulity." And with full understanding that journalism, even when true, is not generally all of the truth - and that "Half the truth is often a great lie."
It is acquired wisdom and experience only that teach incredulity,
and they very seldom teach it enough. - Adam Smith
In Israel the Left exerts almost complete control over the political and social discourse. Unlike the situation in the US - particularly in the era of Fox News - there are no significant communications outlets in Israel that are not controlled by the Left.The non-leftist elements of "the media" in America are not a bit stronger than we need them to be - and they are under attack. And even talk radio scarcely existed before Reagan was able to end the "Fairness" Doctrine.
Even Yisrael Hayom, the free newspaper owned by Sheldon Adelson that has eroded the market shares of Israel's leading tabloids, is not a rightist newspaper. It senior editors, reporters and commentators are almost all leftists.
The Left's monopoly over the public discourse is not only expressed in the media. In the worlds of culture, academia and entertainment as well, all the leading figures are leftists. They cultivate one another in an elite universe that is affected neither by reality nor by the convictions of most of their countrymen.
This has led to a situation in which a small minority of Israelis behaves as if it were a large majority. They use their control over the public discourse to present the sentiments of the majority of Israelis as if they were the views of a small, fanatical minority.It is no news that this is almost a perfect description of our situation in the US, and the reasons for that situation here in "the land of the free" were long a source of serious puzzlement to me. But - in the spirit of "this problem, when solved, will be simple" - I now find it amazing that such a simple, obvious phenomenon could ever have eluded my understanding.
There are layers of understanding which need to be peeled back before the problem becomes obvious. First, journalism mostly did not attempt to claim objectivity before the Civil War era. Newspapers were openly associated with political factions. Indeed, "news" papers of the era did not have sources which the general public could not, at least in principle, be privy to independently of the newspapers. Consequently newspapers were usually weeklies rather than dailies - and some even printed on an idiosyncratic timetable determined by the printer on an ad hoc basis. And the long time between printings did nothing to minimize the likelihood that the public would not learn "news" first from the newspaper. Newspapers, IOW, were largely about the opinions of the printers.
The telegraph and the Associated Press changed that situation; members of the AP suddenly had a font of news to which the general public would become privy only by reading it in the newspaper (or by traditional means, only after the passage of a long period of time). However, "the wire" came at a cost. The service was expensive, and the membership had to maximize the value it received from it. And that meant that the member newspaper had to sell the reliability of reports from reporters who didn't work for the local paper, and who may have been unknown to them. That required a leap of faith - into a "religion" in which reporters were priests of "objectivity."
So with the advent of the AP, fiercely independent newspaper printers gradually merged into a Borg. Outside the Borg, you were ignorant of all those reports gushing from "the wire;" inside it you were safe. You didn't really retain your own identity, but you were guaranteed to be "in the know" - and guaranteed that the Borg would not brook questions of your own objectivity so long as you remained a member in good standing and did not question the objectivity of any other Borg member.
But why was the AP "Borg" an engine of leftism? The incentives of the AP are simply to promote the importance of its membership. And the interest of the membership is to entertain and attract attention. It is, quite simply, to interest the public. The rules of journalism: "If it bleeds, it leads," "'Man Bites Dog' is news, 'Dog Bites Man' is not," and "There's nothing more worthless than yesterday's newspaper" are all rules for interesting the public. All rules to maximize the interests of the newspaper. Notice, I did not say that they were rules for promoting "the public interest." The rules to which journalists appeal to deflect criticism of their editorial choices have nothing to do with the public interest, and everything to do with interesting, and titillating, the public. Those rules of journalism are self-interested.
The AP and the rules of journalism inherently exaggerate journalism's importance and minimize the trustworthiness of those who commit to working to a bottom line. The position of journalism is always that things are going to hell in a handbasket - and you had better pay attention to journalists to find out all about it. And if things are that bad, the only conclusion is that the people you rely on to get things done cannot be trusted and do not deserve the credit/payment which they normally receive. That's a pretty good description of leftism, IMHO.
And because that is the propaganda wind that blows from journalism, politicians have the choice of either going along and getting along with journalism, or of standing on principle. Journalists call those who stand on principle everything but a child of God, and journalists call those who go along and get along "Moderate," "Progressive," or "Liberal," - whatever positive label they can think of. With the exception of "objective," which label they reserve to themselves as the only label they accept for themselves.
The catch to journalism's self-proclamation of their own objectivity is that it is impossible to even attempt to be objective without starting out from an examination of the possibility that you actually are biased. A self-proclamation of objectivity excludes the possibility of any approach to actual objectivity. The principle is no different from the etymology of the word "philosopher:Empowering Israelis to Express Themselves
Thus, if you claim to be wise or objective, you evade the responsibility to your hearer to support your arguments with facts and logic.
- 1542, 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.
- 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]
I thought Levin was a smarter lawyer than that. Best of luck on that, Mark. You're making your living by giving your opinions in public, I think that's called a "public figure.""Last night Mark Levin suggested he would be initiating law suits against anyone who blamed him for these murders and assaults."
I attempt (as a non-lawyer) to treat this issue in my #32. The point has to be that when Big Journalism is a single, identifiable entity with a single, identifiable (and hostile) POV, there is scant recourse against slander (actually libel) by that entity. And that Big Journalism is such an entity is pitifully easy to show; the membership of Big Journalism unselfconsciously stonewall facts which are inconvenient to its case, and its "case" is always the same - that nobody can be trusted except Big Journalism. Big Journalism, and its acolytes, to whom Big Journalism assigns positive labels such as "progressive," or "liberal," or "moderate."
Who is "Big Journalism," and how would you name it in a lawsuit? Simple - Big Journalism is the Associated Press and its membership. Big Journalism excludes from its membership any who would criticize any of its members in any serious way. Thus, a Dan Rather can promote a fistfull of fraudulent "Texas Air National Guard memos" and, after being busted by proofs that those "memos" were fraudulent, double down and refuse to apologize and withdraw his accusations against President Bush43. He did so secure in the knowledge that he would not be seriously criticized, let alone ostracized, by the rest of Big Journalism.
He was secure in that knowledge for the simple reason that all "MSM" journalists have each other's back, and none of them would dare to break that cabal's code. And he was right. CBS conducted a show "investigation" which found that there was no political motive behind a fraudulent October Surprise hit piece on the Republican presidential candidate. A "surprise" which, to go by the advertising which the Democratic Party had ready to launch in an instantaneous followup to the 60 Minutes hit piece, was no surprise at all to the Democratic Party. And the rest of Big Journalism uttered not a peep about it.
Nor is the "TANG memo" hoax unique, or even unusual. Big Journalism turned the Duke lacrosse team "rape" hoax into fodder for almost a year of heated discussion despite the obvious fact that Nifong was trying the case in the newspapers because he was running for election - and that his witness was unreliable and self-interested. It was just a matter of time before the truth caught up with Nifong - but what an experience for those young men to be arbitrarily subjected to!! Another example is the SBVT effort to oppose the election of John Kerry, and the PR effort that Big Journalism launched against them.
Why does Big Journalism go along with the Democratic Party? The question is miscast. To ask the question, "Why would politicians go along and get along with Big Journalism?" is to answer it. Once accept the obvious fact that Big Journalism exists as an identifiable entity with identifiable "follow the money" interests, and the granting of any special treatment to any member of Big Journalism - see for an egregious example the limits on criticism of candidates by anyone except members of Big Journalism during election campaigns - becomes absurdly unconstitutional.
Enactment of any such law is corrupt - and, lest we forget, there were plenty of Republican congressmen willing to vote for the McCain-Feingold monstrosity. And George W. Bush signed it, and Sandra Day O'Connor put the imprimatur of SCOTUS on it. But O'Connor was replaced by Alito and - Kennedy ruling as he did at the time - McConnell v. FEC would go the other way today. So, general tendency notwithstanding, Republicans are not uniformly principled enough to stand with the people and the Constitution against the flattery and derision of self-aggrandizing Big Journalism.
Talk Radio is a format which depends crucially on appearing to represent the public by fairly taking on callers as they come. That stands in direct contrast to journalism, which is inherently a "we're objective and the public isn't," proposition because of its format. And it turns out that, although the soap opera actor says that acting is easy once you've learned to fake sincerity, the public which listens to talk radio can readily tell if the talk show host screens out challenging calls and only answers softball questions. The reality is that claims of "objectivity" - or "moderation" or any other virtue - become unsupportable when subjected to truthful attacks based on facts and logic which must be answered by the talk show host in real time. The consequence has been that people with a "liberal" mindset hear their views reflected adequately by Big Journalism, and people who recognize the limitations of Big Journalism's "objectivity" constitute the audience of Talk Radio.
To return to my starting point, when Big Journalism is a single, identifiable entity with a single, identifiable (and hostile) POV, there is very limited recourse against libel by that entity. Thoughtful people tend to see through the tendentiousness of Big Journalism, but the relative sizes of the audiences for Big Journalism and for Talk Radio certainly give pause to a belief in the adequacy of purely rational argumentation as a basis for PR. The one place where you are supposed to win or lose purely on the facts and logic of your case is the courtroom. That is why I favor a maximum effort to bring the Associated Press and its membership to book in court. And given the slender-reed nature of any hope of support from the Attorney General even in a Republican administration, that leaves only the idea of a civil suit. As far as suing the AP is concerned, it shouldn't hurt your chances to be able to point out that the AP was found by SCOTUS to be in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act back in 1945. And whereas the AP had such an obvious benefit in conserving scarce bandwidth in the days of the telegraph, and seemed to be "too big to fail" in 1945, in the 21st Century the bandwidth required for journalism is practically free. So today a remedy which threatened the existence of the AP would not obviously be counter to the public interest.
Having identified the defendant, however, I am unsure of exactly who the plaintiff should be. Certainly Mark Levin and talk radio hosts generally have an interest in defeating any legal restrictions/prohibitions which the present imbroglio and the present administration threaten. But just as certainly the audience of talk radio has its rights threatened by those same forces. And I would rather the audience be the plaintiff, if that is actually possible.Journalism and Objectivity
I WILL SUE
The people you want to sue aren't MSNBC - at least, not by themselves. The people to sue are the Associated Press, and the membership thereof. Because the AP was found to be in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1945. And whereas in 1945 the AP seemed "too big to fail," in 2011 the AP has serious trouble with its business model. The logical reason for the AP was to create a newswire which efficiently shared news among its members nationwide, thereby conserving scarce bandwidth. But in the Internet age, bandwidth is not scarce but abundant, and the conservation of bandwidth achieved by the AP is no longer a matter of any import.The AP is the mechanism which destroyed ideological competition, in other than the editorial page ghettos, among newspapers. Before the AP, newspapers were fractiously independent. The AP homogenized them, reducing them to projecting the governmentist tendencies which inhere in journalistic self-hype.
With its mission now an anachronism, the AP should be forced to reorganize into a news publishing business in competition with its "members" - or just go away.
I have discontinued the use of the term "the media," for the reason that although movies and fiction propagated by other media such as TV and print definitely are "liberal," you would have to outlaw fiction entertainment in order to make a serious dent in that problem. And that, I think, would put you squarely in the "kook" realm. The issue must be with "nonfiction," which pretends to truthfulness and therefore has a standard by which it may be judged. And that, in political terms, boils down to journalism.
The interesting thing is that although you and I have never seen that day, in the founding era and up 'til the Civil War newspapers were highly opinionated in every possible direction; you picked your newspaper according to what political slant you enjoyed reading. But after the Civil War era, journalism suddenly (in historical terms) became "objective," so that no one now living remembers to the contrary. I'm embarrassed to say how long I puzzled over what created that transformation. The answer is the telegraph. The telegraph, and the Associated Press.
The wire services homogenize journalism, which can be spoken of as a single entity because it is one. It's not just that all newspapers have the same sources, it is that all journalism has to promote those sources as being objective - because otherwise how to vouch for reports from people you haven't even met? Hence the propaganda campaign to the effect that "all journalists are objective."
Why is journalism leftist in orientation? Because journalism is the cheap talk industry. Unified by the wire services, journalism is freed from internal competition and gives cheap talk free rein. And all leftism is is cheap talk, which takes the work of the real economy for granted, and blathers incessantly over real or imagined slights at the margins, making mountains out of molehills. The facile negativity of journalism towards the work of everyone not in journalism or government (not excluding the military) is the natural expression of journalism's self-regard. The planted axiom of what journalists say, and what they do not say, is that you really can't rely on anyone except a journalist or someone who mouths the same things journalists do - i.e., leftists.
The best way to critique journalism is to compare its coverage of events with the historical facts, after the passage of ten or twenty years so that the smoke has time to clear away. Compare, for example, what journalism was saying about the Reagan Administration with what we can see in retrospect the effect of the Reagan Administration actually was.
Well that is a very good question. Given the taint that has become SOP at this point, I just do not know. The house cleaning (exorcism?) that must happen will not be quick or painless. But I do see the legitimate value of such an opposing set of members.Could we have a loyal opposition? The rats have been appalling from Vietnam to Iraq.
To analyze that question, IMHO, you need a clear understanding of "liberalism" and its relationship to "the media."
My analysis is that wire service journalism - the AP, in the first instance - homogenized journalism with the cornucopia of stories available over "the wire." Without "the wire," journalists openly expressed their own opinions as such - "objectivity" was not expected of journalists. "The wire," OTOH, was very expensive - and highly valuable if and only if the public could be made to be credulous about the authenticity of the stories coming over that wire. The upshot of that situation is that candor about any possible conflicts between the interests of journalist and the public interest quickly became taboo.The penalty for breaking that taboo is expulsion from the "objective journalist" fraternity, with prejudice. Since I'm not a member of that fraternity, and do not aspire to become one, that taboo does not affect me. So I will point out the obvious: Journalists' incentives are to promote their own reputations and influence. So journalists hype their own importance and the significance of their reports - and journalists pick on anyone who seeks importance by actually doing important things like providing water, food, clothing, shelter, and so forth.
Likewise, journalists scratch the back of anyone who scratches their back, and criticizes anyone who defends those whom journalism attacks.
The conclusion is obvious; journalism will always be leftist so long as it is unified. It's not that journalists are in the pocket of "liberals," it's that "liberals" go along and get along with journalism. Journalists have no incentive to seperate themselves from openly "liberal" politicians - other than by the rhetorical device of reserving the adjective "objective" to themselves only, and using any other positive label that comes up to describe the sycophantic Democrat politician. The term "conservative will never fit that bill as long as marketers lust after ways to justify describing the products they are selling as "NEW!"
Can the homogenization of journalism ever be undone? That unity is a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act; the AP was held to be in violation of it back in 1945. No sweeping remedy was sought or given in that case, however. But with the advent of the Internet, the fundamental mission of the AP - conservation of scarce bandwidth for transmission of news - is an anachronism, and in principle the AP is no longer necessarily "too big to fail."
gotta -read -ping
this is very good! I copied it and made it one of my notes on Facebook!
BTW, Race, if you are pasting the article into your own page, I’d suggest a short rewrite at the end to incorporate my reply #30, which is a little more definitive about the transformation of the word “liberal.” It at least pins the time of the transformation of the word down to a decade based on some research at the library.
Interesting and informative article. Thanks.
Thanks for the ping!
Indeed; understanding that phenomenon has been my major interest for quite a long time.
My conclusions are:
I like your post.But I have a quibble about language. You say, "smarta$$ is not a journalist," but then you say, "[he is] a liberal propagandist, which means he is simply a very subtle, useful tool of left-wing propagandists, an "advance party" if you will. "
My point is simply that the wire services in general and the Associated Press in particular united journalism around the self-interest of journalism itself. Journalism is just talk, and
the self interest of journalism is that its talk is taken to be more important than the action taken by others to provide food, clothing, shelter, security, energy, and so forth.
This explains why journalism is able to maintain the fatuous conceit of its own objectivity, despite the obvious realtity that journalism is at most part of the truth, and "Half the truth is often a great lie." You can print "both sides of the story" without necessarily getting at the truth of the matter, and that happens all the time. Because the perspective of the journalist defines what he thinks the two sides of the story are. Which may be irrelevant to what is actually going on. And the very fact that the journalist claims to be objective (or, what is the same thing, suffers others to claim it for him) proves that the journalist is not even trying to be objective.
Ironically, it is possible to attempt to be objective only by being open about any reasons why you might not be objective. And claiming to be objective is the very opposite of scrupulously examining your own motives and being open about how they (inevitably) influence your perspective. Therefore,
no "objective journalist" is even trying to actually be objective.
It would be wonderful if we could count on objective information for the mere price of a newspaper. Alas, it is impossible. There can be no substitute for exercising your own judgement. "Anyone who tells you anything else is selling something."The wisest and most cautious of us all frequently gives credit to stories which he himself is afterwards both ashamed and astonished that he could possibly think of believing . . .
It is acquired wisdom and experience only that teach incredulity,
and they very seldom teach it enough. - Adam SmithBecause the wire services unified journalism, journalism speaks with a single voice (I discount the editorial pages as being a peripheral issue, which function primarily to "position" the rest of the newspaper as being objective). Since journalism speaks with a single voice, there are natural propaganda advantages to agreeing with that unified journalistic voice. So if you don't have any principles other than your own self interest, the path of least resistance is to become a politician who promotes whatever the journalistic voice finds convenient. You can then count on that journalistic voice to give you favorable labels and give your opposition consistently unfavorable PR.
So when you say someone is a propagandist rather than a journalist, you give undue credit to journalism as a profession. Journalism is propaganda.
The GOPAmerica is the victim of the propaganda campaign, ongoing since memory of living man runneth not to the contrary, to the effect that journalism is objective. Journalism has never been objective and, ironically, is least able to approach objectivity when it is most able to project the image of objectivity.
Note, when I say "journalism" there is a planted axiom in the construct - the idea that journalism is monolithic. That is, journalism has many facades but a single voice. The unity of journalism is the membership of the wire services, especially the Associated Press. The Associated Press was held by SCOTUS to be in violation of the Sherman AntiTrust Act back in 1945. And no wonder; the wire services homogenize journalism by claiming that journalists are objective in order to maximize the value of the wire service feed to its membership - and if all journalists are objective, they must share the perspective which journalism as a whole projects.
The rules of journalism - "Man Bites Dog, not Dog Bites Man," "If it bleeds, it leads," and "There's nothing more worthless than yesterday's newspaper, (i.e., make your deadline)" are all rules, not of objectivity but of entertainment value. They are rules for making your newspaper profitable. IOW, the rules of journalism promote the self-interest of journalism. And the very last word which would actually describe someone who confuses their own selfish interest with objectivity is, well, "objective."
So we have a highly tendentious and self-interested journalism, falsely but effectively projecting an image of objectivity and public spiritedness. What would you expect politicians to do in that environment? You would certainly expect that a lot of politicians would go along to get along with that prevailing propaganda wind. And you would expect that journalism would award positive labels to such politicians - and would apply negative labels to their opponents:
. . . and you would be entirely correct.
- Moderation being a classical virtue, you might not be surprised to learn, for example, that journalism-favored politicians might be called "moderate" or "centrist" - and disfavored politicians might be called "out of the mainstream," "right wing," "extreme," or even "right wing extremist."
- "Liberty" being the watchword of the American founding generation, you might expect that journalist-favored politicians might be called "liberal" - and disfavored politicians would not be so designated.
- The possibility of progress being a defining characteristic of the Enlightenment (and the Constitution being a quintessential Enlightenment project), you might expect journalism-favored politicians to be called "progressive" - and disfavored politicians to be called "conservative."
The problem is not journalists selling out to socialists - the problem is that, in the wire service milieu, self-selected journalists are socialists.The Associated Press was instituted in the middle of the Nineteenth Century, early in the era of electronic communication, and its natural function was to economize on telegraphy bandwidth by sharing the same feed over many newspapers. In the Internet era, that mission is obsolete. I should not wonder if Free Republic alone had more bandwidth capability now than the AP did in 1945. So what was "too big to fail" in 1945 should be vulnerable to serious antitrust challenge in 2011.
It might be surprising - if there were any reason to suppose that journalism actually was objective, as it claims. But then, the very claim of objectivity is proof that journalists aren't even trying to be objective.
If they were trying to be objective they would be declaring their interests, not claiming not to have any interests.
If they were trying to be objective they would admit that they make their money less by informing the public and promoting virtue than by flattering the public in its ignorance, and pandering to the public in its vices.
If they were trying to be objective they would condemn the Democratic Party for pandering to the public's sloth and greed, rather than promoting the Democratic Party for acting on precisely the same impulses which now rule journalism.
Thanks for the ping, c_I_c! Your OUTSTANDING analysis about "journalism" notwithstanding, your thought-provoking screen-name alone gives you "Presidential" cred in my book.
conservatism_IS_compassion for President!
(That's not quite as high an accolade as it used to be, tho.
I doubt that there are any FReepers who wouldn't be better than the incumbent . . . )
The behavior of journalism is explained by Adam Smith - partly in Wealth of Nations, and partly in Theory of Moral Sentiments. The applicable quote from the latter isThe natural disposition is always to believe. It is acquired wisdom and experience only that teach incredulity, and they very seldom teach it enough. The wisest and most cautious of us all frequently gives credit to stories which he himself is afterwards both ashamed and astonished that he could possibly think of believing.That is the default assumption and perspective of the journalist, about the public at large. The public, journalists believe in their gut, is a bunch of boobs to be impressed and led by their betters. Namely, them:
The man whom we believe is necessarily, in the things concerning which we believe him, our leader and director, and we look up to him with a certain degree of esteem and respect.But as from admiring other people we come to wish to be admired ourselves; so from being led and directed by other people we learn to wish to become ourselves leaders and directors. - Adam Smith, Theory of Moral SentimentsJournalists employ rank sophistry to position themselves as our betters; they engage in Monday morning quarterbacking on a grand scale to insinuate that anyone other than the specialists in a field could do a better job than the specialists in that field, if only they were as well-intentioned as the journalist is. Nobody would trust their own liver to the ministrations of a journalist in the operating room, but the journalist seeks to promote his own reputation above that of the surgeon by claiming that doctors do unnecessary operations to pad their own wallets. And if that sounds like something a liberal politician such as Obama might say - well, in Karl Marxs formulation, that is no accident, comrades.
Journalists use claims of their own (or, what is the same thing, each others) objectivity to precisely the same purpose and intent that the ancient Sophists used their claims of superior wisdom. If the Sophist is wise, or if the journalist is objective, the person who is not a Sophist or a journalist would seem to have no standing to question them. And appearances are what journalists are all about. In reality it is unwise for anyone to assume his own wisdom, and it is not objective of anyone to assume her own objectivity.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. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary. - Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations (Book I, Ch 10)It is said that This problem, when solved, will be simple. And so it is with the question as to why modern journalists never engage in ideological competition, as journalists of earlier times notoriously did. The answer is the telegraph - the telegraph and the wire services, notably the AP. For the AP is nothing other than a virtual meeting of all the major journalism outlets in America.
Adam Smith is correct - a meeting of competitive journalists which has been in continuous operation since before the Civil War, and which is not about merriment or diversion but precisely about business, could not have failed to produce a conspiracy against the public. A conspiracy which is not content merely to systematically omit mention of certain salient facts, but which will actually lie in furtherance of its own interest and against the public interest.
They arent now, either. They have Codes of Ethics, its true - but they claim to be objective. Now claiming to try to be objective is entirely unobjectionable, even laudable if it is sincere. But claiming actually to be objective is sophistry. Why? Because sophistry comes from the term Sophist - Greek for wise man. The Ancient Sophists used claims of their own superior wisdom to suppress debate. Debates are pretty unsatisfactory if they go, I am wise and you are not. Therefore I am right and you are wrong. The classical response to this line of argument was to claim to love wisdom but to eschew claiming actually to be wise. Thats the source of the term philosopher - philo = "lover of," sophy = wisdom."
The philosopher did not claim wisdom, only to love wisdom - accepting the existence of truth, and seeking after it. That is, the philosophers position was, Spare me the ad hominem attacks and the arrogance, and lets get down to the facts and logic as they relate to the issue at hand. And that is the appropriate response to the journalists claim of objectivity, which is intended to suppress your willingness and ability to stand up for the truth when the journalist is (whether by commission or by omission). lying.De facto, a claim of objectivity is no different from a claim of wisdom. Either one constitutes sophistry.
If you didnt know anything else about AGW but the fact that advocates of the theory demand cessation of the use of coal in the US - but are mute about the frenetic rate of construction of coal-fired plants in China (and elsewhere in Asia) - you would know that it is a political ploy intended to damage liberalism.
By liberalism I of course mean what F.A. Hayek, writing in Britain during WWII, meant by the term. I.e., precisely the opposite of the fraudulent post-1930 American usage in which the term is a synonym for socialism.
Theodore Roosevelt was articulating liberalism, circa 1910, in his famous speech at the Sarbonne: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.The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deedsIMHO post-1930 liberalism is accurately defined by the perfect inversion of TRs meaning:It is the critic ; the man who points out how others could have done things better; who counts. The credit does not belong to the individual, who didnt do that, and who falsely claims the credit implied in the status of ownership.When put that way, it is should be obvious that the contempt which 1910 liberals (we) feel for the MSM derives from the fact thatIt is journalists who didnt do that - they have never even tried to, and cant actually relate to anyone who ever actually even did try to, do anything. But what defines their nature - and what they therefore obsessively do - is criticize.Having located the reason for the fact that journalism = socialism, we turn to the reason why the effect of the socialistic tendency inherent in journalism is and must be as homogenous and powerful as it is: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. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary. - Adam Smith, Wealth of NationsHence we are reliably informed not only that the mere fact that journalists, as people of the same trade," read each others output is a serious and fundamental problem for us, but that every organization of journalists must exacerbate that problem. All of which compounds the (as shown above, inherent) tendency of journalists to promote socialism. To promote, that is, an ideology whose inherent nature is a conspiracy against the (pre-1920 liberal) order which the Constitution defines as the public interest.
There are organizations, and then there are organizations. There is a National Press Club, and there is The Committee to Protect Journalists, and no doubt there are numerous other journalism organizations with high-sounding titles. But the true root of all organization of modern journalism is the wire service. Any and every wire service, without exception. But the granddaddy of them all is the Associated Press.
- News Over the Wires:
- The Telegraph and the Flow of Public Information in America, 1844-1897
by Menahem Blondheim
describes the aggressively monopolistic rise of the AP. And I have seen it credibly mentioned on the Internet that in 1945 the AP was found guilty of violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act by SCOTUS. But it wouldnt matter if none of that were true - it is the mere fact that it is an organization of journalists - an intimate association capable of instantaneously communicating with all of major journalism, and of giving direction to them all in a stylebook as to how things are to be expressed, what expressions are taboo, and what makes a good story - which makes it a mortal threat to the order (everywhere but America, and in America as well before 1920, called liberalism) which is the public interest.
In 1945 when the AP was held in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, it was too big to fail due to the value then inherent in the conservation of transmission bandwidth, which was the legitimate mission of any wire service, in the communication of the news. But this is 2014, deep into the Internet era. This era is defined by technologies which practically eliminate the cost of the bandwidth which the transmission of the news requires - with or without the AP et. al.
It is one thing to speak, in frustration, of the homogeneous negativity of the MSM, and it is quite another to have the wit to finger The Associated Press and its membership as a single entity which is responsible for the industrial production of libel against any target it can fix and freeze as representative of the (pre-1920 liberal) order which is constitutionally mandated and which history has confirmed to be the public interest. IMHO the next person, or any recent person (e.g., George Zimmerman) or group (e.g., the Duke Lacrosse Team defendants) should launch a massive suit against "the Associated Press et. al - alleging antitrust violation and RICO treble damages in the pattern of corrupt libel of themselves and of the constitutional order as a whole. And calling for damages sufficient to ruin the AP.
The Internet can disseminate the news, thank you very much. Claims of objectivity - not commendable efforts toward objectivity, but claims actually to be objective - are actually admissions of lack of objectivity about ones own self. Such claims rebut themselves.
Its simple . . . from the founding era up to the Civil War era, newspapers were about the opinions of their printers, as much or more than about the news. What changed in the Civil War era? The advent of the telegraph and the Associated Press. And any other wire service you can name, the AP is just the biggest and most monopolistic of the bunch. The legitimate mission of the wire service is to economically share news over expensive telegraph bandwidth. But the wire service concomitantly functions as a continuous virtual meeting of the newspapers which belong to it - and therein lies the rub: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. - Adam Smith, Wealth of NationsIn plain sight, the wire services - basically, the AP - functions as a conspiracy against the public by journalists. A conspiracy to promote journalists above the public by creating the impression that journalists are superior beings who are objective. But what is the journalist? journalists are critics rather than doers. The wire service journalist is an ordinary citizen telling you what went wrong when people other than journalists (and their acolytes) were in charge. Back in 1910, before the meaning of the word liberalism was inverted (in the 1920s, according to Safires New Political Dictionary), Theodore Rooseveltfamously asserted that"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 . . .In saying that, Roosevelt was articulating liberalism., as the word was then understood (and as it continued to be understood outside the US). The liberalism we are used to is the precise opposite of that; according to liberalism, the critic is the only one who counts, because nothing actually matters except PR. The perfect inversion of the credit belongs to the man in the arena is,If youve got a business, you didnt build that.Political correctness, AKA liberalism, is the natural thought process of the journalist. Everything has to be wrong to the extent that it is controlled or executed by people who work to a bottom line in an effort to win credit by deeds rather than words. The long and the short of the matter is that freedom of the press is subverted by wire services. Because the press is homogenized into a single entity, and the newspapers are no longer about the divergent opinions of the printers but about wire service copy. In this milieu you dont become a printer unless you are simpatico with wire service journalism. So we have the irony that our free press is not a defender of the First Amendment. In fact, our free press was the driving force behind campaign finance reform because it weakens the ability of others to compete with our unified free press in promoting or opposing candidates.
Back when Senator Bill Bradley was promoting Campaign Finance Reform on the grounds that the poor mans soap box couldnt compete with the rich mans wallet, the Internet was in its infancy. But in reality, it is wire service journalism which is the rich mans wallet - and it has been since memory of living man runneth not to the contrary. And it is the Internet which is now the poor mans soap box. And even the ads by truly rich people like the Koch brothers cant compete on level ground with wire service journalism backed up by FCC broadcasting licenses.
It is a joke to take campaign finance regulation seriously as constitutionally legitimate. Campaign finance regulation is inimical to freedom of speech and of the press.
There is no such thing as a low risk, high reward strategy for a politician - except to be a liberal." The reason for that is simple; there is a notional distinction only, and no difference, between a liberal and an objective journalist. Journalism is criticism; journalists never are responsible for getting anything done, all they do is report what went wrong when others had authority. Consequently journalists are the natural political enemies of the people who actually try to do things.
And journalists are the natural allies of anyone else whose forte is criticism. Therefore journalists assign to their fellow critics positive labels such as moderate, progressive, or liberal - labels which are actually descriptive of those whom they malign as conservative).
All major journalism outlets have behaved in this manner ever since the advent of the Associated Press in the mid-to-late Nineteenth Century. The wire services in general, and the AP in particular, transformed Nineteenth Century journalism from a cacophony of independent political voices into a politically homogenous left-wing institution. Which it has been, since memory of living man runneth not to the contrary.
All Campaign Finance Reform laws are based on the fatuous premise that journalism is objective. The Federal Election Commission is unconstitutional. Not only so, but since journalism is highly tendentious, and since there is no ideological diversity in wire service journalism, the promotion of journalism in broadcasting in the public interest is also unconstitutional.
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