Skip to comments.Why Broadcast Journalism is Unnecessary and Illegitimate
Posted on 09/14/2001 7:02:19 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion
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Note: this topic is from 9/14/2001. I posted in here about five years ago, at message 1002.
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. Journalism, and socialism, is nothing but cheap talk (believing and acting on cheap talk is, however, very expensive).
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.
What state legislators should do about Clinton Cash: