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  • I Thought This Was a Technology Publication

    Posted by Shannon Love on August 14th, 2008 (All posts by )

    This article in Wired (h/t Instapundit) is as of 11:21am CST (14.8.2008) headlined:

    Experts Accuse Bush Administration of Foot-Dragging on DNS Security Hole

    What’s interesting is that nothing in the article actually mentions the Administration at all. Indeed, the article contains no inferences of political intervention of any kind beyond a vague statement that the change supported by the article requires some kind of policy change at some level. The article doesn’t even say whether the change is statutory (and thus the responsibility of Congress) or not. Yet, the editor apparently felt compelled to add his own personal perspective. 

    Now, one can say that in principle the President holds charge of the entire executive branch and therefore holds responsibility for the actions of every federal official everywhere. In reality, this is silly. It is even more silly given that Internet domain system governance stands as a shining example of apolitical technocratic management. The Internet has existed for 39 years and for 20 of those years it remained the exclusive toy of UNIX geeks. When it grew into a widely used tool, the federal government made a rather startling and good decision to just let the geeks keep running things. To date, all attempts to impose political “oversight” on the system have gloriously failed.

    I can think of few things worse than making the Internet a political football. Yet, that appears to be just what Wired wants to do. Apparently, the editor wants the president of the United States, whomever that is, to inject himself directly into these highly technical issues and command a solution. Needless to say, if that happens we’ll soon be reduced to communicating with smoke signals. 

    I would also note that this kind of editorial bias follows a pattern I first noticed during the Clinton administration. Back then, if any level of government did something the media approved of, the headline read something like, “Clinton administration supports AIDS research.” If any level of government did something they disapproved off the headline read, “Department of Health cuts AIDS research.” Clinton got the praise for any approved of decisions, apolitical or not, while the impersonal departments got blame for any decisions disapproved of. Of course, with Bush, the pattern flips. Now the headline reads, “Bush administration shuts down post office in Dead Stick, Nevada,” and “US dramatically increase funding for AIDS prevention in Africa,” even though Bush had nothing to do with the former and everything to do with later. 

    Media bias comes in many forms. In this case, the Wired editors interjected a political slur into a story about a technological debate between elite geeks. It’s just one of thousands of little bits of bias that rain down on America every day from people claiming to sell objective information. One little drop in a downpour. 

     

    One Response to “I Thought This Was a Technology Publication”

    1. Robert Schwartz Says:

      James Taranto at WSJ.com has a regular feature of sports writers etc. going into the weeds to bash Bush.