The media are quasi-governmental organs, predictably predictable and predictably dishonest. The truth is not in them.
We now have a press of two tiers, the establishment media and the net, with sharply differing narratives. The internet is now primary.The brightest get their news from around the web and then read the New York Times to see how the paper of record will prevaricate. People increasingly judge the media by the web, not the web by the media.
The major outlets are in near-lockstep, controlled. Reporters understand the rules perfectly. You don’t say anything remotely interpretable as racist. Women are sacrosanct. Do not offend the sexually baroque. The endless wars get minimal coverage and almost nothing that would upset the public. Huge military contracts get almost no mention.
None of this is accidental.
You don’t need to ban unwelcome books, because the only people who read them already agree with them. You don’t need to kick in doors at three in the morning to seize forbidden typewriters. People might revolt against that sort of thing. Just keep prohibited topics off the networks and out of the papers. It is enough.
This system is breaking down under the onslaught of the internet. Papers are losing both credibility and circulation. So are the networks.
Here is a stark example of the evolving two tiers of the news business. Editorially, the New York Times peddles the mandatory narrative while what appear to be a significant amount of its readers know it is lying. Readers, seeing the comments of other readers, learn that they are not alone in their disgust:
Lateral communication. This may have consequences.
Papers do not like this at all. It seems that they are beginning to pull their comment columns. Few dare publish views that contradict the anointed story line.
Another problem that the internet poses for papers is the divide between the intelligent and the rest. Again we see two opposed poles, though in this case blending imperceptibly into one another. The major media are not comfortable with intelligence. Television is worst, the medium of the illiterate, barely literate, stupid, uneducated, and uninterested. It cannot afford to air much that might puzzle these classes.
Newspapers can assume that their subscribers can at least read but, intelligence being pyramidal in distribution, have to focus of the lower end. They also have to avoid offending the advertisers, the politically correct, or the corporate ownership.
Web sites have few of these problems. Since they aggregate their readership from the whole planet, they do not have to concern themselves with grocery ads in St. Louis. They cost little to run. They do not need the bottom end of the distribution. And they have become multitudinous. Collectively you might call them “a free press.”
There are for example Taki’s Magazine, leaning hard to the political Right but thoughtful, beautifully written, fearless, and possessed of a beguiling aristocratic snottiness; the Unz Review, leaning hard in all directions at once but written by and for a cognitive elite; Anti-War.com, not sucking up to military industry; Tom Dispatch, extraordinarily informed analyst of imperial policy; Counterpunch, hard Left but highly intelligent, and the Drudge Report, half grocery-store tabloid and half unintimidatable teller-like-it-is, sort of America’s thermometer.
These and countless others are all over the spectrum, any spectrum, every spectrum, off spectrum, but in most cases assume a post-graduate intelligence and knowledge. No newspaper of which I am aware comes close.
It amounts to distributed cognitive stratification. Before the internet, people who wanted a high level of intellectual community had to move to a large city or live on the campus of a good university. Magazines of small circulation delivered by snail mail helped a bit, but not much. Today, email, specialized websites, and list serves put people of like mind in Canberra, Buenos Aires, Bali, and Toronto in the same living room, so to speak.
A columnist’s job is to tell readers things that they already believe. Their function is purely confirmatory. What he confirms may be nonsense, and often is, but this is irrelevant. There is after all everywhere a boom market in nonsense.
Liberals read liberal columnists to be told liberal things, conservatives, conservative, feminists, feminist. All want to be assured that their vacuous and pernicious delusions are the bedrock of cosmic truth.
h/t fred reed