Taking down The Media, pt. 1
Digby posts about the War on the Media! declared at the Eschaton gabfest. OK. That's a thought, isn't it? Holding the Media to account! Dogging individual reporters who Get It Wrong! Dragging them through the Mud! Sounds like a plan.
Except it's been going on (with Digby herself often in the vanguard) for many a year, and media criticism has been a fundamental part of the Internets since first there was such a thing back in the days of yore. Jay Rosen questions -- I would say demolishes -- the premise.
An Internet guerrilla War on the Media has been under way since dirt was new.
Without much positive result.
Of course it is a matter of faith in the blogosphere that all the effort expended on skewering The Media is having a wonderfully tonic effect on the holding companies and corporate boardrooms, which in turn is positively affecting the presentation of the News on cable and network and newspaper and magazine outlets all over the country.
Just look at how much better Joe Klein has become since he has been exposed to relentless feedback from his critics at Time Magazine's blog effort, Swampland. Day after day, Klein, known colloquially as "Joke Line", is skewered through every orifice; everything he writes, everything he says, is "scrutinized" and criticized, ridiculed and denigrated by a group of regular "Joke Line" critics, in a cacophony of carping and poo-flinging such as hasn't been seen since Deborah Howell made a "mistake" at the WaPo in claiming that both Democrats and Republicans were sullied by the Abramoff mess -- which nobody remembers. A veritable Goat for Azazel.
Every. Farking. Day.
Of course he's getting better. Can't help it with such relentless Warfare on him.
Except nothing changes. It's the same every day. Klein writes rightwing enabling/ supporting propaganda in the magazine and speaks it on teevee and expands on it in his blog posts, and every day he is criticized for it -- by the same people -- and every day writes more of it, and there is more criticism and on and on and on and on.
World without end, Amen.
So now Digby and NTodd and so forth are declaring War on the Media, targeting reporters and journalists almost exclusively, especially high profile clowns like Chris Matthews and Tim Russert and that ilk, and they are to be exposed!!! for the lying, propagandizing, corporate shills they are.
Not to be snide, but So?
These people were exposed! years ago. They are clowns. The only credibility they have left is the credibility they receive from their hyperventilating critics -- like Digby and NTodd and what have you -- who simply go round and round and round the same thing over and over and over again.
Well but. What about Dan Rather? He was taken out by concerted blogospheric action, wasn't he?
In part, sure. But note, the right wing blogs that went after him over the 60 Minutes piece did so not by yelling at him, or even at his producers. No, they went directly to the executive suites and boardrooms, through the back door, as it were, essentially admitted into the august chambers through their connections in the White House (which has long directly supported the right wing blogosphere) and in the boardrooms themselves.
In other words, the rightwingers went directly to the heads of the institutions involved, demonstrated what they were prepared to do if the weight of the institution did not come down hard on their chosen target, and demanded action forthwith. And they got it.
Lefty blogs go at it ass backwards, by always focusing on the individual miscreant, the reporter, the clown or the blowhard who pisses them off at the moment, yelling and carrying on about this latest Outrage! only to find they are being laughed off or ignored. Again.
Repeat ad nauseum.
Is this a Phoney War?
True enough, the so-called Left generally doesn't have access to the executive suites and boardrooms the corporatists and their enablers on the right do. But interestingly, President Clinton was able to slam bad reporting and interviewing and actually get a (mild) mea culpa -- ordered from On High -- from clowns like Matthews and Wallace. Schuster actually got a time out for his comments regarding Chelsea.
Wallace even went to bat for Obama on FOX one morning -- though he seems to rue it now -- because the hosts were spending hours trashing Obama for his "typical white woman" statement.
These are relatively tiny steps, but they demonstrate that something can be done about the abominable news coverage in this country if the right people make the right pitch to the right people, and orders issue therefrom. President Clinton had to do it. Lefty bloggers may have been an amen chorus, but the word had to originate from On High, not from down below.
This should be an object lesson, but strangely it isn't.
And that makes me wonder if the so-called War is really anything of the kind, or even a skirmish. It looks like more of the same, which results in a constant reinforcement of the status quo: endlessly crabbing bloggers and laughing media clowns.
Want some real change in that situation? Really? Then go after the institutions, the power-centers, the executive suites and boardrooms where the coverage decisions are really made. Make it clear to them what you will do -- and that has to be something that will actually affect their power and their money -- if they don't clean up the acts of their clowns pronto.
The only things that seem to strike real fear into them is the return of the Fairness Doctrine and the break up of consolidated media. The only way to accomplish those ends is through election of candidates who will vote for them. But since our elections are so screwed up, elections may not prove fruitful.
What are the alternatives?