Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Lost in a Legacy Media Wonderland

It's lovely to read the chaps at the Carlos Slim blog as they try to figure out what hit them. So here is Jim Rutenberg doing an end-of-year piece on the media landscape.
This much is obvious, but it bears repeating before the year turns: If the news media is going to do its part in maintaining a fact-based national debate, it’s going to have to learn important lessons from 2016. 
Oh dear, Jim. Ain't you ever read nothing? For instance, how about reading Benjamin Disraeli's political novels like Sybil and Coningsby? There are three characters that define already in the mid 19th century what the modern media is all about. There is Rigby, who writes "slashing articles." And then there are Taper and Tadpole, the political operatives, always asking "What is our cry?"

So nothing has changed, Jim. Already in the dark ages of the 19th century the media was right in the middle of the political game, putting its weight on one side or the other. In Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now, we have three, count 'em, three ink-stained wretches writing, er, fake news to catch the eyeballs of the reading public. There is Mr. Broune of the Morning Breakfast Table. Broune is middle-of-the-road. Then there is Mr. Alf, of The Evening Pulpit, a title with an air of "wonderful omniscience." Finally there is Mr. Booker, of the Literary Chronicle.

At no point do Disraeli or Trollope give us any impression that this wonderful cast of characters is the least bit interested in "a fact-based national debate." Not a whisper. They are all in the business of catching eyeballs.

And that is the business that Carlos Slim's blog is in. Only Carlos Slim is what you might call the original robber baron. He made his bones as the guy with a monopoly on cell-phone service in Mexico. Golly; I wonder how Slim got and kept the cell-phone monopoly in Mexico.

How much fact-based national debate can you expect from a newspaper owned by a crony capitalist?

So it is utterly ridiculous to whine about "fake news." All news is fake news; it all has an angle.

For instance, here is Joel Kotkin talking about the blue cities, supposedly the thriving heart of the new urbanist movement that is revitalizing America's cities.
In reality, if we go beyond the big-city boosterism that dominates media coverage, poverty, crime, and economic stagnation still characterize many urban core neighborhoods even as many downtown districts have recovered. For all the talk about gentrification, concentrated urban poverty has been a persistent and growing problem, with 75 percent of high-poverty neighborhoods in 1970 still classified that way four decades later.
What in the world could he mean with his "big-city boosterism?"

The urbanists are all about "light rail and trolley projects designed to appeal to upscale riders and developers," according to Kotkin. Yeah, and here in Seattle we have just voted for $50 billion in light rail and trolleys.

So where does the boosting of metro-city urbanism come in the arc of justice between "fake news" and "fact-based national debate?" Ain't you heard, Jim? The Germans decided 200 years ago that there was no such thing as "facts." As Kant said, we cannot know things-in-themselves, we can only know appearances, and those appearances go through our minds before we construct the picture of them that we call reality.

I have found that over the years liberals have sneered at the FoxNews catchphrase "fair and balanced." Don't you guys get it? Fair and balanced is a joke, son. It is an ironical comment on the conceit of the liberal media that they deal in facts and genuine reportage.

And that was before WikiLeaks and the emails that showed your average liberal reporter groveling before the big beasts of the Democratic Party.

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