Speaking as a journalist who has worked
for many organizations over the years, I will tell you precisely what
their agenda is.
Not tomorrow, not yesterday. Now. Right now. It's not just ADHD, in the TV age it's practically autistic.
Republicans have been taking advantage of this bias for nearly 40 years. It was 36 years ago, during the campaign officially launching the new Thesis, the Thesis of Conflict, that Spiro Agnew (pictured) dubbed media pundits “nattering nabobs of negativism.” (Yes, I know it was written by William Safire.)
The crowd ate it up. Just as they ate up Nixon's attacks on college students, and their teachers, and the Black Panthers, and by extension black leaders. Vietnam would be lost, and the whole political battle after 1968 was one of apportioning blame. Right or wrong (and I think wrong) Agnew's side won.
But the media never learned. They never, ever learned. As this tactic of division became ingrained in American politics, reporters simply accepted it. They pretended it had no history and no future, no consequences. They still do.
So when I read an otherwise-intelligent blogger like Billmon wondering why Wolf Blitzer doesn't get it when Lynne Cheney attacks him, or how Ron Brownstein doesn't get it that Republicans seek absolute power through narrow mandates, I just nod my head. When Atrios complains of ABC News political director Mark Halperin genuflecting through another Agnew wannabe, I just sigh.
That's the way it is. But it can change.
This political thesis has dominated our politics for 38 years. That's longer than most reporters working in most news organizations have been alive. To see the past, they think, would be a form of bias. And their bosses would consider it just that. So they go on their autistic way.
But we don't have to. Despite press claims that the blogosphere is just about crazy, misleading back-and-forth, the blogosphere (like the Internet itself) is not any one thing. It's a medium through which anything can be sent, and seen, no matter how few believe. This blog could not exist in print – there isn't enough money in it (although I did get a nice check from Google today). Neither could 99% of the blogs out there. It's not about money, or audience, or attention. It's a means, not the end.
So the age of Agnew is dying. No one has to live in the media bubble anymore. No one has to live with that autism if they don't want to.
Spiro Agnew died in 1996. (That's his grave.) His political archetypes are dying as you read this. They will die because they have no answers to the problems of today. They lack the capacity to even ask the proper questions. The same is true for the TV media that has dominated this era.
Internet politics does not just overthrow the old political order. It overthrows everything. It does not just sweep away George W. Bush. It also sweeps away Wolf Blitzer, and Ron Brownstein, and Mark Halperin. That's why they grab hold of the old order like it was a life raft from the Titanic. It is. But the water is cold, freezing cold, and their own blood is freezing, and they can't survive. Soon, they will be forced to let go....