Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Amalgamated Media Decay 

"I am going to Washington tomorrow to harangue a meeting of newspaper editors. It is always a depressing job. They are, taking one with another, a very innocent class of men. They always believe, deep down in their hearts, whatever they hear from official bigwigs." ~ H.L. Mencken; letter to Theodore Dreiser, 1939.

Rolling in the wake of the Scooter Libby wipeout came the habitual sack cloth and ashes routine from some of the usual doleful paladins of the Fourth Estate. Both in print and on the TeeVee. Some notable bloggers even scampered aboard that weepy midnight train to Calamityville. (Notable exceptions, thanks be to the All Merciful Thing, include archy)

Same print and TV regulars fullfiling as well the requisite after tragedy soggy noodle self flagellation ritual and subsequent miraculous redemption feat.
After the Libby Indictment, the Press Is Acquitting Itself A lot of media outlets are now scrutinizing some of the lies told by the Bush administration before the invasion of Iraq. Yet the same news organizations are bypassing their own key roles in the marketing of those lies.

Then there's the mandatory "mainstream media" bewilderment harlequinade which is designed to accomodate familiar clown-town bedwetters such as David Brooks.
"But listen, nobody's going to remember most of the details of this six months from now. ... What Fitzgerald showed, you know, he was in there for 22 months. He had full cooperation from everybody." LINK

Hoo-kay. And then of course again there are the compelling life story stories which must accompany any respectable inside the Loop & Beltway water ballet. Especially if it includes a storied media prince.
We also learn that Russert is "a big, bluff lawyer-turned-journalist" with "sharp-eyed instincts for covering the political world," who "moves easily in the worlds of official and social Washington" (despite those homebound Saturday nights). And we also learn of Russert the Scholar who took "four years of Latin." LINK

ad astra per aspera! (to the stars through difficulties!) - And so on.

And who can forget the omnipresent wide-eyed chirpings of the cable news Gibson Girls and the puddle-muddle woozle and kafooster of Wolf Blitzer and Chris Mathews and Jim Lehrer. Or the nightly noisy legs in the air gruntings from the Bu$h administration hook-shop camp followers at FoxNewz and MSNBC's Snarlborough Country. Or the sowlike mass bleatings wafting up from one of Rush Loonbaugh's daily opiated mass orgies. Toss a pinch of pitiable complaining and mewling from pimpish stable pushers like Bah'b Woodward into the stew too.

It's all just too pathetic. And then of course there are the usual freelance fungo batters like Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter, or even Jonah Goldberg for that matter, who, apparently, is buffing up for a romantic rendezvous with Odin's Shieldmaiden. Or something like that. Jeepers, I hope he isn't Jewish. What will we tell the children?
Propagandists like Goldberg always flourish in a vacuum of public ignorance. If liberals try to pretend he doesn't exist in the hope this meme will just go away ... it may be a fatal mistake. When it comes to fascism, fighting back is the only option. But first, we need to see the nature of the beast we're fighting. - David Neiwert/Orcinus

Now I've forgotten what I was doing here. Oh yeah... the shiftless slackjawed media, and all that...

plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Made me think of this:

(The following excerpts) From The American Mercury, editorial, by HL Mencken, March 1927, page 281.
The decay of the Coolidge superstition leaves most of the principal newspapers of the United States looking very sick. Since the very moment of the martyr Harding's dispatch by the Jesuits they have pumped up his absurd little successor in a lavish and voluptuous manner. Their proprietors, and, in many cases, their managing editors and chief editorial writers, have sailed down the Potomac on the Mayflower, listening to him snore; their news columns have been filled with imbecilities in favor of him, and their editorial pages have glittered with his praises. With what results? With the net result that even the Babbitts of the land have begun to see that he is a hollow and preposterous fellow, without anything in his head properly describable as ideas, and with notions of dignity and honor indistinguishable from those of a country book agent. He has squirmed and he has backed water; he has played cheap and dirty politics; he has favored charlatans and used the immense influence of his office against honest men. There has been no more trivial and trashy President in American history, nor one surrounded by worse frauds. Now, at last, the country begins to take his true measure, and the politicians of his own party, seeing the handwriting on the wall, prepare to throw him overboard - if he is not too slippery for them! - next year. The newspapers, I believe, have had little if anything to do with that change, save unwittingly. With precious few exceptions, they have continued to anoint and flatter him, even when the news they had to print made the truth about him plain to the dullest. He has had, from the first, a superb press - docile, humorless, slimy and knavish. It has, in dealing with him, disgraced itself beyond pardon or remedy. Coming at last - and how gingerly! - to a more realistic attitude towards him, it only reveals the depths of its degradation heretofore.


I am thusly of the opinion that the chief responsibility of the Coolidge garbage that has drenched the country is to be laid, not at the door of Wall Street, but at the door of the Washington correspondents. In other words, its sources are to be sought, not in the corruption of the press, but in the incompetence of the press. The average Washington correspondent, I believe, is honest enough, as honesty goes in this world - though his willingness to do press work for the National Committees in campaign time is not to be forgotten. What ails him mainly is that he is a man without sufficient force of character to resist the blandishments that surround him from the moment he sets foot in Washington. A few men, true enough, resist, and their papers, getting the benefit of it, become notable for their independence and intelligence, but the great majority succumb almost at once. A few months associating with the gaudy magnificoes of the town, and they pick up its meretricious values, and are unable to distinguish men of sense and dignity from mountebanks. A few clumsy overtures from the White House, and they are rattled and undone. They come in as newspaper men, trained to know news and eager to get it; they end as tin-horn statesmen, full of dark secrets and unable to write truth if they tried.


The cause of this pervasive incompetence I have hinted at. Washington maintains a colossal machine for converting ambitious young journalists into dependable press agents. That machine has wheels in the Capitol and in all the departments of state; its prime mover is in the White House. The problem of resisting its operations is a technical one, and managing editors with any genuine gift for their art and mystery ought to be able to solve it. A few, as I have said, have done so, and to brilliant effect. But the average American managing editor is too incompetent professionally to deal with such dificulties. He prints balderdash because he doesn't know how to get anything better - perhaps, in many cases, because he doesn't know anything better exists. Drenched with propaganda at home, he is quite content to take more propaganda from Washington. It is not that he is dishonest, but that he is stupid - and, being stupid, a coward. The resourcefulness, enterprise and bellicosity that his job demands are simply not in him. He doesn't wear himself out trying to get the news, as romance has it; he slides supinely into the estate and dignity of a golf-player. American journalism suffers from too many golf-players. They swarm in the Washington Press Gallery. They, and not their bosses, are responsible for the imbecilities that now afflict the trade.

Sound familiar? The whirligig goes round and round.



Far out on the desert to the north dustspouts rose wobbling and augered the earth and some said they'd heard of pilgrims borne aloft like dervishes in those mindless coils to be dropped broken and bleeding upon the desert again and there perhaps to watch the thing that had destroyed them lurch onward like some drunken djinn and resolve itself once more into the elements from which it sprang. Out of that whirlwind no voice spoke and the pilgrim lying in his broken bones may cry out and in his anguish he may rage, but rage at what? And if the dried and blackened shell of him is found among the sands by travelers to come yet who can discover the engine of his ruin? ~ Cormac McCarthy Blood Meridian

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