Last week I mused on how so many sports and entertainment figures were walking away from being entertaining to at least half the audience. All the money and most of the viewership in China must be just so much more enticing to the suits who produce movies and the front offices for guys who play sports professionally. The bed is made, let them now sleep in it seemed to be the reaction of commenters to that post. Now we’ll watch old movies, foreign movies, or even take up a fascinating new hobby – model railroading, gardening, building replicas of medieval weapons, raising chickens, remodeling the house from stem to stern. That kind of thing.
Our establishment news media is going down the same road to irrelevancy; probably farther along down that road since they first got that head start. When was that? The first step from being impartial, to at least being seen as impartial; Was it in publicly yielding the victory in the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War to the NVA, against the actual facts on the ground? Or when Woodward and Bernstein took down a president with the behind-the-scenes assistance of a disgruntled and resentful FBI administrator, giving inspiration to a whole generation of college-trained journos who lusted after being in the news spotlight themselves even more than actually relaying ‘just the facts.’ (And perhaps inspiring other resentful bureaucrats in more recent times on how best to slip the knife in, without ever leaving fingerprints; just leak to the nearest sympathetic journo-List.)
The partisanship got a bit more blatant when Dan Rather went with a bogus document, the TANG memo, trying to sink GWB just before election day. A faked memo, passed to the 60 Minutes team by a man with a grudge against GWB anyway, and a production team willing to swallow it all whole and regurgitate a political hit piece. That’s when I personally began to wonder how many other bogus documents had been perpetuated by 60 Minutes in order to slime the target-o-the-evening, and gone undetected because no one on the outside of the newsmaking machinery ever got a good look at them. Another click in the ratchet of doubt during that very same election was how the major news orgs deep-sixed mention of the Swiftboat veterans who had served with John Kerry and considered him an unsavory cross between Eddie Haskell and Frank Burns. The Swiftboat veteran controversy was all over the interwebs but was essentially embargoed by the national establishment news organizations for weeks. By the time the 2008 election rolled around the partiality was blatantly obvious,: I even wrote about it then, thusly –
It’s not been unknown for members of the working press to have sentimental favorites – look, they about got down and drooled over John. F. Kennedy, and the deity knoweth some of the old press guys and gals still view him through a hagiographic haze. Similarly, Lyndon Johnson was so universally despised by the press and the intelligentsia that I (as a middle school kid just getting interested in that kind of stuff) rather felt sorry for him. Nixon was loathed, and Gerald Ford lampooned as a clumsy oaf – but in between all that, the serious media still were capable of some kind of detachment … Which sense of impartiality still lingered long among us- but it just seems now the lunatic fringe is driving the whole thing. And that sense of even-handed detachment is what the media is losing, or has already lost this season. …they are become the organ of state, or the state that they hope will be, once they drag the juggernaut over the finish line. It’s as if NPR and the New York Times were about to morph into Pravda, or the state media in one of those third-world nations where el Presidente’s cousin is the head of the national press council – and no one dare print or broadcast a critical word about either of them. What a pity – for a lot of the last century, being a journalist in the mainstream American media was a respected profession . . . and now they are reduced to shoveling out propaganda and dragging the juggernaut along.
Talk about prophecies. Really, where do I get my Cassandra certificate? Is there a central office where I might file an on-line application? Because the national news media has, with a few notable exceptions, gone full out progressive organ-of-the-establishment in the twelve years since I posted that observation. Now, they are at the point where social media giants – Twitter, Facebook and the like – are even blocking tweets and posts to links to the last few news organizations which will call out corrupt numbskulls and their substance-abusing sons in stories which appear to be based on … well, something that looks suspiciously like hard evidence. Discuss as you wish. How the once-mighty American media organs have fallen!