At war: government and the media
... At some point on that day [the very day the United States declared war on Germany and Italy], President Roosevelt told press adviser Stephen Early that the government needed to acquire one of the national radio networks. Now that America was at war, the government's requirement for unmediated and direct communication was essential...
Ultimately, the government did not assume control over NBC Blue, or any other private commercial radio network, during the war. Fly convinced Early that the networks would work closely with the Office of War Information to ensure access to the airwaves.
I didn't know that, but it's not too surprising given FDR's socialist tendencies. The urge to nationalize some of the radio network was obviously high on his list. The first day of war! Luckily, cooler heads prevailed.
Roosevelt's desire to control communication with the public is symbolic of a peculiarly American dilemma: how to speak directly to the American people in times of war, national emergency, and crisis. Journalists -- then as now -- interpret the government's actions and words....
And as long as that's done in good faith and with reasonable accuracy, all is well. But what about when it is neither in good faith nor accurate?
Too often we in the United States forget the radical, even revolutionary implications of our media system. It trusts an essentially indefinable group of people (''the press") to serve the public interest by interposing itself between political authority and the citizenry. The concept of a government pledged to protect independent reporting on its own behavior remains subversive to most authorities around the globe....
Now it is left to the new media, to bloggers and talk radio, an almost organic adaptation to fill an empty niche, truth, to subvert the media system.
Just as Roosevelt, in a 1942 fireside chat, inveighed against ''the typewriter strategists who expound their views in the press or on the radio," the Bush administration fumes over reporting it considers inaccurate, unrepresentative of reality, and antagonistic. The current administration continues to develop multiple strategies to connect directly with people -- whether in the United States, Iraq, or elsewhere....
For instance, on Saturday I heard the Democrat's response to the President's address (which I missed) given by a representative from Rhode Island. The Democrat said, as many Mainstream Media report, that "there is no plan for victory." That is false. There is a plan, and anyone can read it for themselves at www.whitehouse.gov . The MSM has been saying for years now that there is no plan -- a claim demonstrably false. They could say the plan stinks, they could say the plan won't work, but to say it doesn't exist is inaccurate and in bad faith. Then Socolow goes on to say:
This administration's recurrent attempts at direct communication demonstrate an intention to subvert the purpose of the First Amendment.
WTF? Talk about the arrogance of the anointed ruling class! So the administration's communicating directly with us subverts the First Amendment? !&$%*#*#$%&%^#&*#*#!!! I guess Mr. Socolow felt bound by the rules of his guild to throw a bone to the far left. He's not completely clueless:
But the government is not acting in a vacuum. It is reacting to a media environment marked by enormous hostility. Skepticism is healthy, but too many journalists practice reporting informed by a pessimistic cynicism. This corrosive attitude is damaging the news industry; newspaper circulation and TV news viewership continue to decline....
"Enormous hostility" yes, but that does not go far enough. The MSM is actively campaigning against the President to the point that they will aid the enemy in their attempt to harm the administration. The MSM does not care that their actions will prolong the war, or cost the lives of American troops and innocent Iraqis. Many on the right believe the MSM to go even further, to actively oppose America and to work for its defeat. Today being an odd numbered day, I don't believe they're actively treasonous, only accidentally. Tomorrow I'll believe they're a bunch of traitors. But given their recent body of work, I'd say the burden of proof is on them, odd day or even.
This corrosive attitude is damaging the news industry; newspaper circulation and TV news viewership continue to decline....
Who cares? Actually, it's only damaging to the Old Media; the New Media is thriving in the vacuum of truth and accuracy.
This is not to say that the press must abandon the critical skepticism that informs its watchdog role; nor that the government should stop promoting efforts to reach citizens directly. But the mutual antagonism has confused and angered the public. It's a troubling situation, bad for both democratic governance and the news industry. But the real loser is the constituency that both claim to be serving: the American people.
I don't think it's so much a "troubling situation" as a transitional one. The asteroid has struck, but there are still plenty of dinosaurs around. Given the Old Media's arrogance and monolithic liberalism, I don't give them much of a chance at reform. There just aren't any conservatives in most newsrooms who could speak out for good faith or accuracy, much less seize the reins. I've no doubt the deepest feeling of most of those at The
Liberal Death Star New York Times is "better dead than not red", and so it shall be. As the Old Media withers, the New Media will grow.
The New Media will always be more diverse, less centralized, and more meritocratic than the Old, and those are all good things. The king is dead; long live the king!