In another good piece on the state of journamalism, Marc Ambinder proposes something that won’t work:
Rather than end my disquisition on a complaint or a tale of misery, I want to provide a constructive bit of advice as to how we can begin to revivify the honor to which we used to hold truth-tellers. Consider the narrow point that conservative criticism of President Obama is unusually and often bafflingly, even embarrassingly facile. There are plenty of conservatives who recognize this. I can name six: Ross Douthat. Matt Lewis. David Frum. David Brooks. Conor Friedersdorf. Liz Mair. There are many more. But they have no incentive to police their own side. The moment they speak out, they’re branded as apostates, and the conservative movement narrows even further. An impoverished opposition is bad for democracy. I subscribe to the Brendan Nyhan/Robert Frank notion that social shaming may well be a valid way for fact-checkers to convince more than a handful of people that the other side is simply wrong. Frum has done a serviceable job in calling out his fellow conservatives, but he does not possess the power or the infrastructure to shame people who cross a line. As Nyhan proposes, when someone like Frank Gaffney, who still gets invited to major events by reputable people, implies that President Obama a Muslim, he should be shamed into hiding by his fellow conservatives. (Shaming by liberals, or mere corrections, won’t work, and will often promote the myth).
It’s a silly suggestion, people like have Frank Gaffney have no sense of shame and neither do their fellow travelers at the Weekly Standard and National Review. I’m not even sure that Douthat et al. do.
The current system seems like a pretty comfy set-up for conservatives. The crazies can make money off their radio shows and Regenery books and wingnut welfare. The “respectable conservatives” can be hailed as VSPs for their occasional mild, mealy-mouthed criticism of the crazies.
Why change it over a small thing like shame?