Yesterday, in response to Nick And Josh’s hitpiece on Glassman (which smeared TCS by accident), Matt Yglesias wrote this post about the issue. Like Dan Drezner, the Instpaundit, and everyone else I have seen who actually has written pieces for TCS (Pejman elaborates quite nicely on the subject), Matt asserted that he was never pressured to change his piece, etc.
However, this is still troubling to many of Matt’s readers. Apparently, it is important to know who pays the bills in order to determine whether an argument is good or not. In the word of one commenter:
John: I think you may be somewhat alone in thinking that the source of funding is completely out of bounds when deciding what credence to grant an article. I mean, I congratulate you on your loyalty to your libertarian ideals, but for the most part, people really do care.
So, since the American public is now so damned stupid (in the views of some) that they are incapable of reading something and determining for themselves whether it contains a valid argument, here are my proposals:
1.) In every newspaper, newsmagazine, newsweely,- everything in print- the first section, whether it takes up 2, 3, or 20 pages, will be an item by item accounting of everyone and everybody who is contributing or has contributed a penny to the company in the past ten years. On newsmagazines like Newsweek, the cover story must be an expose about the largest individual contributer to the magazie, whether that be an individual or company. That expose is to be written by an independent, government approved commission, and should be a complete life story of the individual- including how that person has voted in every election.
2.) The next 10 pages of all publications must be a government approved history of the publishers. This information must include any contact with government officials, corporate officals, a complete accounting of the publisher’s financial portfolio, and any financial statements from every member of the publisher’s family.
3.) Before every story, there must be an in depth 2-3 page examination of the author, including an attempt to cover voting history, education, prejudices, taste in women, etc.
4.) Much like the MPAA, a rating system will be created for all publications, so that idiots like Zizka (really- I am not being overly harsh- go read his comments at the Yglesias piece linked to here) will not accidentally pick up a piece of literature with one ideological bend and confuse it for another. Some sample ratings could be:
L-TDNCL– Liberal, Toes DNC Line (The New York Times)
XL-PTBM– Extreme Liberal, Pretends To Be Mainstream (The Nation)
NC-CH– Neo-Cons, Clinton Haters (The Weekly Standard)
CENT– Centrist (The Washington Post)
You get the idea. This way, Democrats and the rest of society who can not think for themselves will never pick up something that is outside their pre-conceived ideological bend. Can you imagine what might happen if, for example, if Zizka accidentally picked up the National Review instead of the Nation. If that were to happen today, he would not have a rating system or any of the biographical information I am suggesting, and hell, without that, he might run around parroting the ideas written in National Review.
I think these steps will help to alleviate the deep critical thinking skills problem we are currently experiencing. Now, with these labels and knowing where all the money is coming from, we can all conveniently dismiss certain publications completely, safe and secure in the knowledge that there are no real arguments or ideas in them becuase they took money from Exxon. This will help us all hone our argumentation skills, and we can save time in debates because everything can now be boiled down to a circumstantial ad hominem attack. I think it is a great idea, and it will help keep the liberals from getting dizzy and having to actually decide if there is a reasonable argument in what they are reading.
*** Update ***
Apparently these types of labels and disclosures would be really helpful to all the ‘smart’ people at Crooked Timber.
Maybe the broad brush extremists on the right are correct about liberals- they just don’t like money. It is evil and corrupting. Unless it comes from George Soros.
*** Update #2 ***
There seems to be some confusion- I don’t think the American people are stupid- which is why I find it so amusing that every liberal site is condemning TCS for its funding source, as if that matters. My point was that arguments stand or fall on their own, regardless of who pays for Matt Yglesias or Dan Drezner’s efforts. This post was supposed to be tongue in cheek…
*** Update #3 ***
Crooked Timber speaks– I am a charming antique or naive. Yipee. I am also a right wing circle! Whole article condensed- TCS is not communicating in good faith (they are still under the assumption that TCS is nothing more than an outlet for corporate expression masquerading as independent thought, a link that not even Confessore has attempted to make). Other than that, it is about 1000 words of word salad that at points sounded very similar to the widely ridiculed (in my circle, at least) Coordinated Management of Meaning.