Not only are there many extremely intelligent ordinary people out there, but a lot of famous, mainstream journalists and commentators get by mainly on their rhetorical skill and lack both analytical ability and common sense.
UPDATE: Mitch raised the hair issue in the comments, and I realized that I didn’t mean to restrict what I wrote to mainstream-media people. Andrew Sullivan (not to pick on him but he’s an obvious example) fits the pattern, despite not being a MSM person and not having important hair. He writes beautifully but his analysis of matters economic (deficits bad!) and geopolitical (we’re losing!) is somewhat less acute than is his rhetoric. Some people simply write better than they think. We should always examine arguments carefully, no matter who made them or how satisfying they sound.
6 thoughts on “Something That I Learned From Reading Blogs”
But they have important hair.
Editing the New Republic strikes me as mainstream. But I must admit my feelings toward Sullivan are ambivalent. I would never be entering this comment and certainly not be writing if Sullivan – with that fine writing and wit – had not first drawn me into the world of “bloggery.” But his analysis seems increasingly sloppy and inconsistent. He is clearly confused. Okay, so I’ll cut him some slack and I’ll admit I’ve become more partisan. Still I don’t often read him (although he brags about his numbers, which must mean I’m in a minority.)
Legacy media figures are people who were anointed from on high by the people who owned the capital intensive information distribution systems on which old media is based. Under the old adage that, “your first customer is your boss” the market that chose legacy media figures was actually a very small group of people working at the upper reaches of the publishing and broadcasting business. They were further shielded by the group consensus effect where all major legacy media shared the same world view and nobody external to the group had the means of challenging the collective story they told.
Like all those protected from market competition they grew fat and lazy. Their analytical skills withered when their individual success hinged on their conformity to the group not their accuracy.
Now the internet is exposing them to intense informational competition. Journalist, whose main skills lay in writing, are having to compete on stories with people with direct knowledge of the immediate problem (typefaces for example) who in earlier eras would have had no voice. Accountants write about financial scandals, Soldiers write first hand accounts of fighting. Scientist discuss the implications of their research.
The analysis of Legacy Media looked good in the past because no one could seriously challenge them. They looked authoritative only because they were the only ones everyone saw speaking.
All good points, but what I wrote applies also to bloggers.
How do you account for Maureen Dowd, who has the rhetorical skill of a Tourette’s Syndrome sufferer and the reasoning ability of a banana? (And she’s developing a tiny bald spot in back.)
Whoa, tough one. Maybe. . . she is very catty and there are a lot of cat lovers out there? I don’t know. Market failure?
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