Tony Blair gave an important speech recently on the role of the media in shaping public opinion and creating an informed--or as the case may be--uninformed electorate. I heard a good deal of it as it was broadcast yesterday on Hugh Hewitt’s show and, the link above provides some of his commentary as well as other information about the speech.
Much of the speech focused on the changing nature of media--from centralized, "objective" clearinghouses to a decentralized, frenetic mess of partisanship that drives rather than reports on news. He remarks that the pace of news reporting--driven as it is by searching out market share--is too breathless and exaggerated. He argues that this leads to breathless and exaggerated thinking and policy-making.
It is a serious speech and it is thoughtful. This and his ability to at least recognize the enemy we face in Jihadist terror are reasons why I can’t help but love liberals like Tony Blair on some real and important level. It gives me a bit of hope when I am reminded of him and people like him. This is a serious person who reflects upon things, makes tough choices and engages with the world in a frank and thoughtful way. Good for him. He is a worthy ally and adversary.
While I find much in this speech salutary, I think ultimately there are some serious flaws in his argument as well as dangerous implications. It strikes me that he is looking to blame a lack of seriousness in the media more on technological phenomena than on a lack of seriousness on the part of the people in media. To be fair, he does emphasize that there is no one single cause. But he is quite enamored of this part of his explanation and says very little about the ideological underpinnings of many in the media who do tend to view all of life in this sort of exaggerated tone.