Free Markets, Free People
I’m sure you’re watching the MSM give a huge collective yawn concerning the Obama video that has been surfaced showing an Obama that most of America hasn’t seen.
“Old news” they’re saying. “We’ve covered it,” they claim. Funny, I don’t remember it (oh, it was on MSNBC? No wonder no one has seen it).
Meanwhile the MSM is fixed on 1985 videos of Mitt Romney and his stance on … Vietnam?
Ed Driscoll, via Instapundit, sums up a couple of points that are pretty much true. First, he quotes Andrew Ferguson at Commentary, who makes a good point using the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle as a basis:
Heisenberg’s principle can be crudely generalized (it’s the best I can do) as follows: An observer can change the nature of a thing or an event merely through the act of observation. Observation all by itself can become an intervention. Heisenberg was describing how reality works at the level of quantum mechanics, where a wave becomes a particle and vice versa depending on how it’s being measured. But it applies, too, at the level of political journalism, where reality is even stranger. There, facts can become interpretations, interpretations can become facts, and events of no significance can achieve an earthshaking importance simply by virtue of being pawed over by a large number of journalists.
A typical journalist, if he’s any good, insists at least theoretically on the iron divide between observer and participant. At its best the press corps sees itself as a squadron of Red Cross workers, wandering among the combatants in a battle zone and ensuring their own safety with a claim of strict neutrality. The Heisenberg Principle of Journalism puts the lie to all that. You see it at work whenever a news anchor announces that “this story just refuses to go away” or a headline writer insists that “questions continue to be raised” about the conduct of one hapless public figure or another.
The story refuses to go away, of course, because the anchor and his colleagues won’t let it; and the questions that continue to be raised are being raised by the headline writer and his editors. Reporters create more news than anybody, just by pretending they’re watching it unfold.
How often have we seen the absolute over-kill by the media on stories most would consider trivial. It seems to always depend on who is involved, doesn’t it? But, as Bengazi and Fast and Furious are proving, the inverse is also true. The MSM can blatantly ignore what most would consider important stories as well. Driscoll lists the exceptions:
- A presidential candidate calls for bankrupting entire industry? Let’s ignore it in plain sight.
- A presidential candidate call for higher energy prices for all Americans, especially the poor? Capital idea, we agree! But on the whole, let’s ignore it in plain sight.
- A presidential candidate has spent years marinating in a radical chic background? Let’s ignore it in plain sight.
- The Middle East is in tatters as a result of an administration asleep at the wheel? Let’s ignore it in plain sight.
- A border agent killed and guns in the hands of Mexican criminals? Let’s ignore it in plain sight.
- An incendiary racially-charged speech involving the man who is now the president of the United States emerges that 99 percent of the general public hasn’t seen? Old news. Let’s ignore it in plain sight.
Let’s. And that’s precisely what the media is doing. I’d also add to that list a litany of economic failure that is simply being ignored.
Or to put it another way, as the Washington Examiner notes tonight in an editorial, “To believe Obama is to forget the last four years.” That’s what both the Obama Administration and their palace guard are hoping.
It has gotten so obvious that even Howard Fineman has criticized the press for its obvious bias and its selective coverage. Pat Caudell went off on the media just the other day.
The intent of the media? To drag their chosen one across the finish line regardless of how poorly he’s done. There seems to be no attempt to hide it anymore. Simply peruse the stories of the day, identify what should be the stories of the day (a useful tool is to identify something not being covered and say to one’s self “if that were a Republican president …”), and it becomes clear which side, literally, the press is on.
Tonight is going to be interesting as well. We’ll see how subtle the “moderators” of the debate are going to be about their bias by the questions they ask. Will they focus on the economy, the unfulfilled Obama promises, the disaster his foreign policy has become, ObamaCare and its cost, etc. Or are we going to talk about “lady parts”, what Romney said in 1985 and the evil Bain corporation.
My guess? Not much economy, not much Obama record, lots about Mitt’s past (with the excuse that we know about Obama, but this is an opportunity to introduce America to Romney).
Bains, a long time commenter here at QandO, and someone who I enjoy reading, put out a rather lengthy comment on the post about the CBS News poll that showed the majority rejected the narrative that heated political rhetoric caused the Tucson shooting. I thought I’d give the bains comment some further visibility because it has some tasty parts that I think deserve discussion. Here’s the comment in its entirety:
I’m noticing something else at play here. A theory of mine that recent events support, perhaps even validate. This will be long so please bear with me.
In 2008 I was in an argument with my father. I was lamenting that if only the media did its job, the nation might have a better idea of just who Barack Obama was, and where he wanted to take this nation. As with many of my friends, and evidently a good number of voters, he would have none of my criticism. Pop was, and still is, mired in a hatred of George W Bush. As such, he entirely missed the point I was trying to make. When news media becomes an advocate for a person, or a position, or a policy, we can not trust that media. It is not just that they are no longer ‘objective’; no, they have become willing disseminators of propaganda. Most here know this.
In a fit, I said that his reliance upon the MSM would come back to bite. All the blowback to the partisan blame-naming that we have seen over the past several days is a good indication of that “bite”.
No, it is not that the MSM is heavily biased leftward (they are). Rather, that those who have studiously ignored, and many have denied, this bent have seriously damaged their own cause. When one agrees with an author, or commenter, or pundit’s point of view, it is quite easy not to call them out on the inaccuracies they use in promoting their cause. And for forty years, the major media outlets have rarely been taken to task for their inaccuracies. That the narrative was acceptable was/is all that is important – facts be damned. And for a long time, this worked: Bork was Borked, Gingrich shut down the government, Limbaugh was responsible for the OKCity bombing, Reagan and Bush’s support of Israel caused 9-11, Humans cause global warming, and evil corporations (supported entirely and only by the right) caused all of our economic woes.
Instead of saying “wait a minute MSM, what proof do you have to make that statement” far too many folks nodded in agreement. Not because of a compelling argument, but because of an overwhelming agreement with how the conclusion could change the course of politics. Bork et al were/are bad solely because their views were/are in opposition to the enlightened, and therefore, brilliant judgments of the political “vanguard” – the Left.
Now what this has led to is a media, and the political left ill-suited to make compelling arguments. All this time, they have been living in an intellectually cloistered tabernacle, only hearing praise for all their illogical and un-provable prognostications. All their “brilliant” arguments are merely juvenile and facile, applauded only because they “proved” the proper position (approved by the ‘right’ cocktail circuits in the ‘right’ locations with the ‘right’ dignitaries approving).
Pundits of this ilk, say Paul Krugman and many others, have been living in a world of masturbatory bliss. Egos massaged, they willingly shelve any intellectual acumen for further gratification. They proudly spout the approved line, support the approved policy, advocate the approved politician, fighting evil in the name of (party approved) decency and Nobility. Hell, a Nobel Prize proves they must be brilliant (and Noble)! But therein lies the (nasty sandpaper) rub. There will come a time when they will not be able to hide their intellectual inadequacies behind a screaming choir.
This is why we see, I surmise, Krugman, his hosting broadsheet, and so many others, going off the deep end regarding the shooting in Tucson. They are loosing their grip on the narrative, and are petulantly lashing out at those who are more and more willing to reject not just the politically motivated narrative, but also those who mindlessly foist that narrative.
Bains’ theory is similar to the thoughts I’ve had (although I’d hesitate to call mine a theory, so ill formed are those thoughts at this moment) about the state of the media. I think bains raises some interesting points. As my brother has said to me, the internet’s democratization of publishing and commentary is as “important as Gutenberg’s invention of moveable type”. The more I observe what is happening, the more I agree. Bains takes that a step further to point out the impact and implications that “invention” is having.
Gutenberg took the Bible away from those who controlled it’s narrative at the time – the Church. It was the beginning of the end of the Church’s power. No longer were they the sole possessors of the written word or the narrative. Now many, many more could directly possess what only the wealthy church could previously possess (since Bibles at the time were all hand made and hideously expensive) and they were also able to offer their own (and competing) interpretations as well.
For a few centuries, the “media” has been – in some form or another – pretty much the sole provider of “news”. It chose the topics, it chose how they were treated and it chose how they were presented, followed up and talked about. Or, as bains points out, they controlled the narrative.
That’s big power. And for the most part, they had no competition except within their own industry. So people like Krugman, et al, became used to having their opinion accepted as “the” opinion and were able to push whatever narrative their ideology demanded as the “common wisdom”.
But there was a true revolution brewing that they missed completely. As Al Gore’s internet stood up in the mid to late ‘90s a challenge developed to the “official narratives” that were then considered conventional wisdom. No longer were the keepers of the narrative unchallenged. The first thing I remember – and this was before blogs or just as blogs were beginning to develop – was the “Tailwind” scandal where CNN’s Peter Arness was brought down over a lie that US troops used poison gas in Cambodia (I believe – this is from memory).
Then came Rathergate, when blogs came into their own and destroyed the story a major news organization was pushing as true and accurate. It wasn’t.
Since then and with the rise of the democratized press, bains theory seems to describe well what has and is happening. Krugman seems to me to be the perfect example of the establishment media’s reaction to the situation.
Certainly there have been vast changes in the media itself. The rise of radio then television. The death of “appointment TV” with the rise of cable news. Etc. But all of those still had an insular media in charge of the narrative and able, for the most part, to do what bains describes.
Not anymore – with the bar to entry lowered so that anyone with an internet account can challenge the big boys and their narrative the monopoly on information deemed “news” is over. The decision as to what is or isn’t “news” is not something the traditional media can dictate anymore. Proof of that are the many stories essentially ignored by the traditional media, kept alive in the blogosphere and finally and reluctantly covered by the MSM.
Anyway, seemed a great topic for discussion – go for it.
Should the National Endowment for the Arts encourage artists to create art on issues being vehemently debated nationally?
That is the question that I set out to discuss a little over three weeks ago when I wrote an article on Big Hollywood entitled The National Endowment for the Art of Persuasion?”
The question still requires debate but the facts do not.
The NEA and the White House did encourage a handpicked, pro-Obama arts group to address politically controversial issues under contentious national debate. That fact is irrefutable.
But some have claimed that the invite and passages, pulled from the conference call that inspired the article, were taken out of context. Context is what I intend to establish here.
In addition to the Patrick Courrielche article above, Breitbart has a series of others dissecting and analyzing the NEA and White House actions on the Big Government site. While other than complete transcripts and audio of the conference call, not a whole lot new is revealed in these reports. There is a good rundown of the facts versus White House claims, as well as a link to some prior investigation into the money angle. However, I think Patterico cogently sums up the importance of this (still developing) story:
It would be a mistake to dismiss this story as unimportant because there is no jaw-dropping angle like ACORN staffers’ apparent complicity in trafficking in under-age children for prostitution. Consider what is happening: the NEA is encouraging artists to create propaganda for a president’s policy initiatives. This is a corrosive precedent — and what’s more, it illustrates the overarching danger of the Obama administration: government, by increasingly taking over various aspects of American society, threatens to bend society to the will of a single man.
It would also be a mistake to dismiss the story as old just because the basic contours of the story were revealed in August. Since then, the NEA and the Obama administration have denied pursuing a legislative agenda in the call; today it is clear that they lied. What’s more, they tried to cover it up with the reassignment of Sergant. And the media played right along, for the most part acting as though that was the end of it.
From a politics standpoint, the potential illegality involved here is the paramount issue, and the use of federal funds for propaganda runs a close (and closely related) second. However, from where I sit it’s the all-out assault on the traditional media that’s so interesting. Breitbart has now twice invited to MSM to look behind the curtain to see what they’re protecting, and twice they’ve passed. He forced them to cover the ACORN story. Will he do it again with the NEA scandal? Keep in mind that Breitbart has darkly hinted that there is more to come:
Everything you needed to know about the unorthodox roll out of the now-notorious ACORN sting videos was hidden in plain sight in my Sept. 7 column, “Katie Couric, Look in the Mirror.” ACORN was not the only target of those videos; so were Katie, Brian, Charlie and every other mainstream media pooh-bah.
They were not going to report this blockbuster unless they were forced to. And they were. What’s more, it ain’t over yet. Not every hint I dropped in that piece about what was to come has played itself out yet.Stay tuned.
Does that mean that there is yet more to come on the NEA promoting propaganda in support of the president’s agenda? It’s hard to say. If it turns out that some laws were broken, however, expect Breitbart to rub the MSM’s noses in it with as much publicity as he can muster (which is likely a tremendous amount).
UPDATE: While the Obama administration is busy using the tax-payer funded NEA to push its agenda, it’s also using its police powers to harass those who speak out against its agenda (via HotAir,):
The government is investigating a major insurance company for allegedly trying to scare seniors with a mailer warning they could lose important benefits under health care legislation in Congress.
The Health and Human Services Department launched its investigation of Humana after getting a complaint from Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., a senior lawmaker usually viewed as a reliable ally of the insurance industry.
“It is wholly unacceptable for insurance companies to mislead seniors regarding any subject — particularly on a subject as important to them, and to the nation, as health care reform,” Baucus said Monday, disclosing the HHS investigation.
Humana Inc., headquartered in Louisville, Ky., is cooperating with the investigation and stopped the mailer earlier this month, company spokesman Tom Noland said Monday.
Now, you can call me a conspiracy theorist if it makes you feel important and wise, but how else other than “totalitarian” would you describe “free speech for me but not for thee” enforced at the end of a gun? Does that necessarily mean that we’re headed for gulags? No, but don’t let the failure to cross that line fool you. The Obama administration is putting on a full court press to pass its agenda, and apparently has no qualms about using every resource within its power, legal or otherwise, to accomplish that goal.
[This post is authored by Michael Wade. Because of technical difficulties, it has been posted under my account - McQ]
A new poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press shows the media’s credibility is at its lowest level since the poll has been taken (1985). Skepticism about the truthfulness of the media is rampant.
The survey found that 63 percent of the respondents thought the information they get from the media was often off base. In Pew Research’s previous survey, in 2007, 53 percent of the people expressed that doubt about accuracy.
The AP points out that the poll didn’t differentiate between bloggers and broadcast and newspaper reporters. The obvious implication is that “the internet” may be a primary reason the numbers are so low. I may have missed it, but I don’t know of any bloggers who present themselves as news people. Most of blogging is commentary on the news, the newsmakers or the media and its handling of the news. While “new media” might suggest that bloggers are on a par with what is commonly referred to as the MainStream Media (MSM), it’s simply not true. Few if any bloggers claim to be “journalists” (but there are journalists who are bloggers).
AP then reports:
The Internet also has made it easier to research information and find errors in news stories, said Kathleen Carroll, the AP’s executive editor. And the Web’s discussion boards and community forums spread word of mistakes when they’re found.
Carroll hopes the increased scrutiny and accountability fostered by the Internet will lead to better journalism.
“We’re in the early stages of a changing relationship between news organizations and consumers, who are becoming much more vocal about what they like, what they don’t and what they want to know,” Carroll wrote in a statement. “It’s not always pretty or pleasant, but that engagement can and does help improve coverage.”
The “internet” isn’t some amorphous blob. The part of the “internet” which “increased scrutiny and accountability” is the blogosophere. And that underlines the way the roles have broken out in the media as a whole – something the “internet” and blogosophere now figure in prominently. The monopoly on what is news as well as how that news is reported has been irrevocably broken.
It is that which the MSM is dealing, and, in most cases, it isn’t dealing with it well.
When the price of publishing dropped to the cost the price of an internet connection fee, the monopoly was broken. No longer consigned to letters to the editor (which may never be published), the people were able to speak out in various forums, but primarily through blogs. The result has been pretty stunning. Now a much more dynamic and democratic group decides what is news and how it is covered. In many cases, the MSM has been forced to cover stories it has obviously tried to ignore.
That is most likely one of the primary reasons their credibility remains low. In 1985 about 55% believed newspapers and broadcasters generally got things right.
By 1999, the figure had fallen to 37 percent. The only time the Pew survey recorded a significant shift in the media’s favor was in November 2001, when 46 percent said they believed news stories were accurate. Dimock attributes the anomaly to the sense of goodwill that permeated the United States after the September 2001 terrorist attacks.
The most recent poll found just 29 percent believed news reports had the facts straight. (Eight percent said they didn’t know.)
Similarly, only 26 percent of the respondents said the press is careful to avoid bias. The figure was 36 percent in 1985.
As has been the case for years, television remains the most popular news source. The poll found 71 percent of people depend on TV for national and international news. Some 42 percent said they relied on the Internet, 33 percent turned to newspapers and 21 percent tuned into the radio. (The figures don’t add to up 100 percent because some people cited more than one medium.)
A decade ago, only 6 percent of the survey participants said they leaned on the Web for their national and international news while 42 percent relied on newspapers. (TV also led in 1999, at 82 percent).
If you read this carefully, you realize that the credibility problem for the MSM began well before the internet, seeing a slide from 55% in ’85 to 37% in ’99. ’99 is when the internet began to be a factor. But note that even then, only 6% said they used it for their news source. In 10 years that has grown to 42%, faster than any other source.
And what has the internet and blogs been most successful at doing? Fact checking the MSM and pointing to bias. That’s one reason only 26% now believe the MSM to be unbiased in their reporting.
Obviously the media world is changing, and as AP’s Carroll says, the MSM is still trying to come to grips with the change. What seems to finally be dawning on the MSM is the “new media” isn’t going to go away. In some cases they’ve been successful in co-opting various players. But with bars to entry as low as an internet account, there are always new players who will enter the “new media” market. The MSM may as well resign themselves that fact and step up their game (maybe they need 4 levels of editors) unless they want to continue to see their credibility shredded.
Dale forwarded me a link to this story from the Onion, which is a bit of a departure from their typical, non sequitur, off-the-wall sort of schtick:
More than a week after President Barack Obama’s cold-blooded killing of a local couple, members of the American news media admitted Tuesday that they were still trying to find the best angle for covering the gruesome crime.
“I know there’s a story in there somewhere,” said Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, referring to Obama’s home invasion and execution-style slaying of Jeff and Sue Finowicz on Apr. 8. “Right now though, it’s probably best to just sit back and wait for more information to come in. After all, the only thing we know for sure is that our president senselessly murdered two unsuspecting Americans without emotion or hesitation.”
Added Meacham, “It’s not so cut and dried.”
There are some who seem to think that, with this article, the Onion has delivered a withering critique of the media in this country. According to that view, by suggesting that the MSM would have difficulty figuring out exactly how to report a gruesome double homicide, the Onion is poking fun at the MSM’s reluctance to cover the perceived foibles of our president. But I don’t see it that way at all.
I condemn this article. How repulsive for the Onion to treat the most respected politician in the world as a foil in some stupid joke about the press. Even if in jest, it is simply beyond the pale to equate the president with a serial killer. Anyway, don’t they know that serial killers are all white (except for the one or two that aren’t)? Which reminds me, this article is also racist. Racists!
Besides the vile, racist, inhuman treatment of our president, it is absolutely ludicrous to think that the MSM isn’t holding Obama’s feet to the fire. Who told them to say that? Rush Limbaugh? O’Reilly? Haven’t they heard of Jake Tapper? And then there’s … um … racists!
Furthermore, it is unacceptable that the Onion could write such an article when it never once called out Bush for his lies, deceit and actual murder. I mean where was all the ribald comedy when our last president was ruthlessly killing innocent women and children just to line the pockets of his Halliburton buddies? Where were the protests? Why didn’t the Onion write about that?
In closing, I want to point out that our press is doing a fine job of covering the important issues and the difficult choices President Obama faces. The Onion should be ashamed of attacking him and his
hagiographers reporters. As proof of their unquestionable skill and journalistic acumen, I leave you with this footage of the White House Press Corps doing what they do best. I trust this will settle the argument once and for all:
Oh, and uh … RACISTS!