Last week brought us two events—two voices—two perspectives on this crossroad moment in the history of journalism. One event took place in the imaginary crystal mansions of our intellectual elite; one took place on the streets of America. One voice spoke for a dying self-appointed aristocracy; one for the people. One perspective was the view from the sclerotic past; the other from the pulsing, vibrant future of information.
The first event was the awarding of the Pulitzer Prizes, the leftist Mainstream Media’s yearly spasm of self-congratulation at the wonder of themselves. As almost always, the prizes were generally divided between the leftist New York Times and the leftist Washington Post. It was all terribly prestigious and no one cared.
The second event was the nationwide tax day demonstrations of the folks who call themselves the Tea Party, small-government citizens groups that have grown and thrived despite the above-mentioned MSM’s attempts to discount, ridicule and marginalize them.
Ted Koppel, former anchorman of ABC-TV’s Nightline, was the spokesman for the MSM. Interviewed by the BBC, he called the current state of journalism “a disaster.” Why? All that unvetted information from citizen journalists on the internet. Back in “what I like to consider the good old days when you only had NBC, ABC and CBS,” journalists worked “in the public interest,” rather than chasing the “almighty dollar” by appealing to “the lowest common denominator.”
Pugilistic webmeister Andrew Breitbart weighed in for the rest of us. He’s the proprietor of the Big Government, Big Hollywood and Big Journalism sites that have exposed, among other things, corruption at ACORN, left-wing messaging in TV and movie scripts and the dishonest media portrayal of anti-healthcare demonstrators as racist. Speaking at a Tea Party gathering in DC, Breitbart called for more of precisely the unrestricted citizen journalism Koppel decried, telling the enthusiastic crowd: “You are the media!”
To me, Ted Koppel’s lament seemed a ghostly echo of every elite that ever passed from the scene–the King in his castle with the Lords demanding a charter of rights, the aristocrat in his mansion with the people demanding the franchise, even the slave-owner on his veranda with the soul of a nation crying that men must be free: “But there have to be standards! After us, the deluge!”
Well, sorry, no. Koppel’s earnest complaint that information “must be vetted,” disguises the truth that the standards of the three-network monopoly of “the good old days” were corrupted by left-wing ideology then, and have become even more corrupted since. The New York Times cover up of Stalin’s atrocities (for which it won a Pulitzer) became Cronkite declaring the Vietnam War was certain to end in stalemate after the decisive US Victory at Tet which, in turn, became Dan Rather shopping fake documents in an attempt to undermine George W. Bush—with dozens of similar incidents between.
And nowhere is this continuing ideological corruption more evident than in the hostile coverage of the Tea Party itself compared to the favorable coverage of left wing movements like the Million Man March and the Cindy Sheehan protests. For that story in full read this brilliant report from the Media Research Center.
The mainstream news media are not dying because of the internet, the internet is merely the instrument of their much-deserved demise. Like every insulated aristocracy, they became rancid with their own self-satisfaction. They tried to peddle their nostalgia for the authoritarian elitism of Europe to a nation that still beats with the heart of pioneers. The Obama administration is the crowning achievement of their dishonest influence. After this—thank heaven—they’re done.[h/t Red Eye's incomparable Greg Gutfeld, who posted and brilliantly mocked the Koppel interview.]