Saturday, December 17, 2005

Lib Crit

I composed and deleted about 5 different replies to Foer's strangely self-contradictory article, but I think Anonymous Liberal (depsite responding to something else) gets at the issue:

In other words, we don't think the media is actively pursuing conservative interests; we think that the media, through its rigid adherence to certain journalistic conventions, has unintentionally contributed to the cheapening of political discourse. Put another way, unscrupulous partisans have learned to game the system. They've realized that the painfully formulaic structure of today's mainstream political reporting allows even the most dishonest and misleading talking points to gain currency.


Conservatives already dismiss all the reporting they don't like as the work of liberal critics. They've been doing this for over two decades and to great effect. In fact, it is this very allegation that has led political reporters to adhere so religiously to a format in which accuracy is routinely sacrificed in the name of "balance," and neutrality is valued above even truth. What a sad irony it is that Harris thinks these journalistic conventions make life more difficult for the White House. The truth is that the White House's political strategy entirely depends on this style of reporting. The key to Karl Rove's political success was his realization that he could count on mainstream journalists--who now fear, above all, the dreaded 'liberal bias' charge--to present almost any talking point, no matter how ludicrous, in a dueling narrative format free from any independent editorial judgment. Fear of the bias charge has essentially tied reporters hands behind their backs, making them unwilling or unable to do more than present differing narratives. The beauty of this strategy for the White House is that it's self-reinforcing: the more conservatives yell "liberal bias," the more rigid the balanced format becomes. And it certainly doesn't help matters when people like Harris contribute to the problem by accusing colleagues of liberal bias. The reality is that the White House has absolutely no desire to do away with this system. Why should they? It has served conservative political interests remarkably well over the years. As it stands, conservatives can dismiss reporting they don't like as the work of liberal critics while at the same time using the self-imposed neutrality of the press to facilitate the spread of misinformation. And those two strategies actually reinforce one another.

There's much more to be said about this, but that covers a lot of what I wanted to say. But, as one more quick response to Foer, liberals were really goddamn quiet about the craptacular mainstream media for years. The reason was is that no matter what the flaws of the mainstream press too many liberals internalized the idea that the press is "on our side." So, when the Times or NPR reports total bullshit too many liberals digest it unquestioningly.

As "pro-Gore" as TNR was reputed to be during the 2000 campaign, they failed to serve as an effective force against the myriad of horseshit being pushed by the mainstream media. Belief in the importance of the media is not the same thing as belief in its infallibility. The mainstream press has for 30 years internalized criticisms from the Right. That's the problem.

(via firedoglake)