Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Press as a Mob

Only Victor Davis Hanson could connect the journalistic circus that is the war coverage with the craziness that happened after the battle of Arginusae in 406 B.C. (The Athenian Asembly voted to execute six of the eight generals that returned to Athens after their greatest naval victory of the war). In criticizing the media’s ignorance and foolishness, he is making a huge point: "Something like that craziness often takes hold of our own elites and media in the midst of perhaps the most brilliantly executed plan in modern American military history. Rather than inquiring how an entire country was overrun in a little over three weeks at a cost of not more than a few hundred casualties, reporters instead wail at the televised scenes of a day of looting and lawlessness." Read the whole thing. He is right, and this explains why the media are listened to less and less, as time and the war go on.   

Discussions - 16 Comments

Rather than inquiring how an entire country was overrun in a little over three weeks at a cost of not more than a few hundred casualties, reporters instead wail at the televised scenes of a day of looting and lawlessness.

Just a few days ago, one couldn’t turn on the tv without seeing images of statues falling aplenty and "jubilant" Iraqis dancing in the streets, a fact which many on this board milked for all it is worth. But now that things have changed in Iraq, suddenly we find the need to point fingers at the media and label reporters as a bunch of whining cry-babies? I don’t understand the logic in criticizing the media simply because the events on which it is reporting do not suit your liking.

(Incidentally, I’ve seen a ton of coverage regarding the how and why of the quick victory in Iraq. Apparently, Dr. Schramm aren’t accessing the same news outlets.)

Sorry, that first paragraph should have been italicized or in quotes.

"Just a few days ago, one couldn’t turn on the tv without seeing images of statues falling aplenty and "jubilant" Iraqis dancing in the streets, a fact which many on this board milked for all it is worth."

This has got to be some strange lind of new strategy on the part of the DNC. I would’ve loved to have seen the email laying it out: "Now instead of going home and beating your wife and kids everytime you get frustrated with those evil Republicans, go instead to their blogs and baffle them with your penetrating insights! Trust me, while befuddling our enemy, it’ll do wonders for your sense of well-being and self-image."

After all, "It’s for the children." :)

This has got to be some strange lind of new strategy on the part of the DNC. I would’ve loved to have seen the email laying it out: "Now instead of going home and beating your wife and kids everytime you get frustrated with those evil Republicans, go instead to their blogs and baffle them with your penetrating insights! Trust me, while befuddling our enemy, it’ll do wonders for your sense of well-being and self-image."

I’m sorry if my dissenting opinion disrupts Mr. Lamb’s perfect, self-aggrandizing, "oh, aren’t we clever" world. The last time I checked, we didn’t live in Nazi Germany. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Mr. Lamb --- you do not include your e-mail address on your posts, so I was unable to contact you directly. You seem to have a problem with me posting my opinions on this blog. That being the case, please contact me directly so that we may discuss. Otherwise, can we agree to limit our dialogue to the issues at hand as opposed to making assumptions about party affiliations and engaging in name-calling? I think it would be beneficial for all involved.

It was a joke, Mr. Little.

Feel free to post whatever, whenever you wish, dude, this ain’t Nazi Germany, ya know. ;)

If you say it was a joke, I accept your word. But this discussion would be better served by a little less sarcasm (on both of our parts) and a little more real discussion. In lieu of jokes, would you prefer to discuss either the issue of "media ignorance" or my response to Dr. Schramm’s comments?

I am going to be brief about this and to the point. It is Mr. Little’s responsibility to establish the tone of a conversation (assuming he really wants one) by giving his responses in more measured and thoughtful tones than he has. When he has been more considerate and less vituperative, his interlucutors (e.g., John Moser) have gone to great lengths to explain themselves, and a relatively good conversation has taken place (which happened a few weeks ago, as I recall). If Mr. Little is unable to become more thoughtful (if not more moderate) than perhaps people should stop responding to him. Sometimes, when and if folks have nothing in common, a conversation cannot take place. Yelling at one another is not a conversation, and I ask those who are yelling to stop. Thank you.

While I agree with the the message Dr. Schramm is trying to send, it’s wrong and irresponsible of him to single me out as being unthoughtful or immoderate. I would encourage Dr. Schramm to scroll up just a wee bit and take a look at the first acerbic that was posted to this conversation... It certainly didn’t come from me.

Dr. Schramm - and others - need to make a distinction between courtesy and agreeing with what you say. Simply because I don’t agree with your viewpoints doesn’t qualify me as vituperative (dandy of a word, by the way).

I would suggest that Dr. Schramm and his colleagues need to think long and hard about what it is that they want to accomplish with this blog. If they are looking for a forum where people can have a dialogue of various issues with proponents and opponents alike, then you should keep this blog open bearing in mind the fact that everyone in this country is not required to subscribe to your opinions. In your search for political enlightement, you might even go so far as to - GASP - post an article that presents a dissenting view every now and then, as Mr. Moser did some time ago by posting the thoughts of one of his former professors. However, if your goal is to simply develop an e-community of like-minded individuals whose opinions conform to your own, I would suggest that it would be in your best interest to either shut down this blog entirely, or at least implement some sort of password protected device that will enable you to censor those will offending viewpoints.

As far as "responsibility" goes, I would suggest that the true responsibility lies with those who post articles, and comment on them with headlines like "the press as a mob."

Dr. Schramm, I addressed a couple of the issues you raised privately. You may wish to check your e-mail when the opportunity arises.

Here is my response to Mr. Little latest anidmadversions. I like our blog (and, judging by the number of people reading it, so do a lot of other people). Thoughtful and learned people can say what they want to say, whenever they want to say it. I personally benefit from their thoughts and insights; they also bring certain issues or articles to my attention, that I may otherwise not see. I presume those who read this blog regularly share this latter sentiment. A few people like to comment on blogs posted, and that is fine. No, I don’t have the responsibility to present any kind of "dissenting" view. This is not a classroom, it is a blog. I am not a professor and you are not a student. I have only deleted one "comment" (it was not Mr. Little’s) in the last six months and that was because it was extremely crude and without walue. I have no plans to institute a password protection plan just keep Mr. Little off the comment page. He can continue to comment or not, that is entirely up to him. I, of course, don’t have to respond, nor does anyone else. I also am prejudiced in favor of thoughts and ideas that either teach me something or (and at best they are the same) jokes, to paraphrase Hal, that would be argument for a week, laughter for a month, and a good jest forever. And I have scorn and disdain on those who do not know why they are so sad. Such diseases are beyond my practice.

"As far as "responsibility" goes, I would suggest that the true responsibility lies with those who post articles, and comment on them with headlines like ’the press as a mob.’"

Perhaps, given your wonderful sense of humor, Mr. Little, you might find this story a funny confirmation of Hanson’s characterization of the "press as a mob":

"A senior officer said: “I’m afraid the pressmen have been had. All commandos have a great sense of humour. Boys will be boys."

I’m being completely sincere when I tell you that I have no idea what this article is supposed to have to do with the ideas of media bias as it pertains to the dialogue we’ve been having.

Let me also say - with equal sincerity - that I’m not sure it’s in the best interest of your argument to cite as your source an article from a site which lends an equal degree of exposure to such scintilating topics as "boost your bedroom skills!" and sporting ads touting "bizarre exposed celeb snaps" and "S Club X Super Babes."

The "media bias" debate is really generational in nature, imho. I grew up at a time when the media, much like the counrty all a whole held a consensus worldview: Government leaders could be trusted, commies were bad, and America exemplified Winthrop’s "shining city on a hill."

Then all hell broke loose.

Out of the washing machine came new ideologies, 900 television channels and an internet by which to trumpet them, a distinct lack of "trust in government to do what is right" and a generation (Xers) that have never known any other country, and a mainstream press that still pines for the "good old days" when Walter Cronkite was the "most trusted man in America."

Now, even Walter is jumping on the Armageddon bandwagon because that gunslingin’ cowboy from Texas is gonna git us all kil’t. Meanwhile America ain’t listenin’, and instead have turned their ears to more upbeat and positive venues of media to get the news they want to hear.

Some call it a different "bias." I call it a different worldview. Whatever it is, the manistream press is losing the battle for "those who have ears to hear."

All fine points, Mr. Lamb. I think that one of the key areas where you and I disagree is your notion that it’s the media that has changed, not the people (e.g. government leaders) who it covers.

Well, let me back up for just a second. Certainly, the media has changed with the introduction of the internet, 900 channels and "embedded journalists," but not necessarily for the worse. I would suggest to you that the technological advancements of today’s media make for a more intimate, less-tainted (or less-filtered, if you prefer) look at what’s going on in the world. In short, people are in a better position now to decide for themselves what (or who) they believe as opposed to having a single, sterlized view force-fed to them.

But as important as the changes in the media is the fact that a lot of today’s leaders - Republican and Democrat alike - CAN’T be trusted. Now, certainly, the 1950s (or any era, for that matter) saw its share of less-than-reputable leaders, but the fact is that we didn’t get the kind of exposure to our leaders then that we do today, and therefore, probably aren’t aware of a tenth of what went on behind closed doors back then.

But regardless of how you look at it, the fact remains that the media can’t make something out of nothing. If today’s politicians didn’t give the media so much to work with in the first place, it wouldn’t be an issue.

I have no problem with anything that Dr. Schramm said. I wish he had phrased himself in this fashion in the first place instead of pointing fingers. All I would ask is that he - and others - apply the same standards to themselves as they do to those with opposing viewpoints (e.g. if they expect me to refrain from sarcasm, they should be be prepared to do the same). If they can manage that, I don’t think we’ll have a problem.

Incidentally, I did not suggest that Dr. Schramm had the "responsiblity" to present a dissenting view, merely that if he was truly interested in learning, perhaps he (and moreso, others) should consider viewpoints that do something other than reaffirm what they already believe. It’s why I choose to visit this blog on a regular basis --- because I’m not so stubborn as to believe that I know everything about everything. If I was seeking nothing more than affirmation of what I already believe, I would simply visit a blog where I could agree with everything that has been written.

Hopefully, now that we’ve both had an opportunity to state our cases, we can lay this issue to rest once and for all.

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