Jack Shafer is shrill:
The larger point that the boneheads who so despise the media need to appreciate is that the mainstream American press is better than it’s ever been. If you don’t believe me, visit your local library and roll through a couple of miles of microfilm of the papers you’re currently familiarly with. By any comparison, today’s press is more accurate, ethical, reliable, independent, transparent, and trustworthy than ever. Skepticism is a healthy disposition in life. I wouldn’t be a press critic if I regarded the press as hunky-dory. But mindless skepticism is mainly an excuse for ignorance. Even the people who denounce the New York Times as the bible of liberals ultimately get most of their useful news from it.
Your average reader is not to be trusted because he just doesn’t know his own mind. In addition to the Jayson Blair finding, the Annenberg survey offers this gem. When asked how important it is to them to live in a country in which they can criticize the government, a resounding 81 percent of respondents say “very important” and 14 percent say “somewhat important.” The verdict is almost unanimous.
Now, one would assume that what’s good for the individual—rip into your government the best you can—would also be good for journalists, who are paid to watch-dog politicians. But the average reader can’t keep a consistent thought in his head for two minutes. When the same Annenberg survey asked if government should have the right to limit the press in reporting a story, an appalling 68 percent said either “always,” “sometimes,” or “rarely.” Only 29 percent said “never.” Let’s hope the First Amendment never comes up for a vote.
I’ve had it with all you unreliable, inconsistent, and detestable blockheads. I’ve given you every possible chance and you’ve failed me miserably. Tonight I’m ordering a custom bumper-sticker that reads, “I Don’t Trust the Mainstream Media Audience.”
Due in large part to the tone of this piece, my personal opinion of Jack Shafer just went up a few notches.
OK, so I get that this is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, and I admit he makes some good points, but the tone is exactly what pisses me off.
If this were a politician telling us off in these terms for criticizing the government (roughly: Hey, sure we make mistakes, but we’re much more transparent and trustworthy than in the old days, plus even those of you complaining loudly benefit a great deal from us, so shut up you detestable blockheads), I’d think he’s an asshole. Not sure why I shouldn’t because instead he’s a journalist defending the media.
It’s a matter of degrees. Compare American Politics and the mainstream media to the 1920s or the 1950s and you’ll see a fair greater degree of transparency and ethics today than yesterday. But we don’t often look at things from that perspective, nor necessarily should we. We look at our world on a day-to-day basis and it seems that until recently the MSM and mainstream politics has become increasingly more corrupt and less transparent. No one honestly asks the question, “Are we better of today than we were fifty years ago?”
That said, the war between Republicans and the mainstream media (some of it deserved on both sides) has left everyone jaded and suspicious. We can’t trust the Bush White House, but we can’t trust Dan Rather either. Thus, every citizen has the right to vocalize a protest against our government, but an untrustworthy media should be reined in, especially if we’ve been convinced that loose lips really do sink ships.
Poor, poor media. They don’t like to be fact checked, well too bad. I get better political commentary from my cat blogs than I get from the Sunday shows.
I think Shafer has made some valuable points. Honestly, the “media” is a complex beast with lots of arms, some of them broken sometimes. There are good reporters, better than good reporters, and there are lousy reporters. There are good editors, better than good editors, and there are lousy editors. And of course, you’ve got good people who make mistakes here and there because they’re having bad days. In other words, just like in any other field of work, you’ve got your fair share of good and great people, and your fair share of lousy people. If we judged our own work environments and the people in them the way we judge the “media,” I’ll bet we’d find plenty to bitch about, if we don’t already.
Two examples, one from the past, one from today, of what a real honest-to-God journalist looks like. What a reporter with guts, who would never bow before power, or serve up “balanced” pablum in place of the hard truth, would be.
Wow. I remember good reporting. When they reported news and were not afraid to stand up to politicians. They were involved in in-depth coverage and analsys. Today it’s sound-bytes, one completely delusional network and 24/7 coverage of non-stories like runaway brides.
Coming from you that is absolute comedy.
I think that I agree with respect to main stream print press. I’d have to take some exception to equating cable news with major newspapers. There is far more crap spouted over the media airwaves than you’d find in a major newspaper.
Broadcast news has become infotainment not reporting.
“They don’t like to be fact checked, well too bad.”
Coming from you that is absolute comedy.”
Meanwhile…the “Paper of Record” continues to ignore Air America’s shenanigans in their own backyard: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/0805maceachern05.html
Bias? Nah. Never
Regarding the Air America story, I find this to be a little strange:
Why is she not named? Why is there no direct quote from her? Further down below there is a quote from “an executive committee member” which states:
“I’m still rocking from the experience,” said Anna Capell, 80, a member of the club’s executive committee.
This is not a direct quote about the loss of monies, this does not give us any direct source about unapproved loans. Who stated that Cohen made loans without their approval and why don’t they go on record?
This is not a complete story. It is sloppy reporting, and perhaps that may be why the New York Times didn’t pick it up?
Now, if true, I would rail against this as well, but why do you use this for a story? This is about as effective as “a white house administration member stated…”. It is NON-REPORTING.
Somewhere out there on the blog landscape — DKos, I think — is a lengthy and exhaustive rundown of the story source and its pathology. In a nutshell, if the compilation is accurate, the whole story hangs on a thin and unsubstantiated report linked to a “newspaper” which cannot be confirmed to actually exist.
The story is suspect, at best. If the right really wants something here, maybe it could employ its vast journalistic resources to actually go out and get some facts and do some reporting that doesn’t hang on an “it’s out there” story based on vapor?
DKos is not working well enough at this moment for me to search it for the diary. I may try later, if I am not still having my typical Saturday laziness.
The state is investigating Air America now.
Stormy, the New York Post is a Murdoch rag.
I think the quoted article is valid as regards the paper press. But that is not where most people get their news. Television news, which is the main source of most people’s news, has deteriorated enormously over the past 20 years.
One of these days the Jack Shafers of the world are going to wake up and realize they’re nothing but ad-selling typists.
“Randolph Fritz Says:
Stormy, the New York Post is a Murdoch rag.”
So I guess we’ll have to wait for one of the “legimate” press to come along and investigate. Of course seeing as how what 75%? of journalists are liberals, I’ll not hold my breath on that one. Libs can’t be trusted to provide balanced news (nor to be fair can conservatives). Which is just one more reason we are becoming two countries trying to tear each other’s throats out. Our enemies couldn’t be happier…
Your peace initiative will receive the greatest possible consideration.
Just let us know when it’s coming.
Mike, it seems to me that conservatives complain that liberals bend over backwards to be fair to their enemies, then complain we aren’t fair to conservatives. Conservatives seem to me to want special treatment from the press and Murdoch provides it. But don’t expect us not to snicker.
More seriously, one cannot learn from one’s own propaganda. If I can go out & take the trouble to understand arguments across the political spectrum, you can, too. From my viewpoint it seems to me that “conservatives” expect the world to fall into line with their beliefs. When it doesn’t, they start acting weird. This is part of what seems to have gone wrong in Iraq; Bush and, especially, Rumsfeld seemed to feel that the Iraqi would be so awed by our military might they would just fall at our feet. Not. But admit they’ve got a problem? Also not. It is as if they feel that reality can be beaten into submission, all too literally, I fear.
This elitist piece of ass can kiss my Royal Derriere.
The only reason I read their spew is because I need something to mock, and they’re such easy targets with their predictable bias.
I’d respect his “speak truth to power” argument a lot more if their interpretation of it wasn’t so consistently skewered in one direction and one direction only.
But let the whiny little babies continue to tilt against the windmills of falling subscriptions, proclaiming that they’re so much better than the rest of us. They can fucking well write that manifesto on their cardboard signs when they’re whoring on mixmaster intersections for all that I care, I still won’t piss on them if their pants are on fire.
If you want to, John, go ahead.
Yeah, sure, the media’s doing a great job. That’s why our military is bogged down fighting a war based on lies and misinformation.