The Gatekeepers Are AWOL

David Ignatius laments the demise of civil rational public discourse that he labels centrist:

People from the Old Media, like me, instinctively prefer a centrist style of civilized debate. Of course we do, say Halperin and Harris. We are the gatekeepers of the old order. The shrill voices of the New Media -- the bloggers and talk-radio hosts and other partisan megaphones that Halperin and Harris describe as the "Freak Show" -- don't just threaten our beloved center. They might eventually put us out of business.

The gatekeepers have been AWOL. There is no rational debate because lies are accorded equal treatment as truth. Issues are nothing in campaigns for the Gatekeepers, personality and image everything. David Ignatius and the Old Media failed us and Left bloggers were forced to deal with it. and we have. But if Ignatius wonders what killed rational discourse in this country he need look no further than his mirror. He and the Media failed and accepted the Republican ground rules of falsehoods and trivialities. Ignatius, you killed rational discourse.

Last year in the Times Matt Miller had a similar lament:

Ninety percent of political conversation amounts to dueling "talking points." Best-selling books reinforce what folks thought when they bought them. Talk radio and opinion journals preach to the converted. Let's face it: the purpose of most political speech is not to persuade but to win, be it power, ratings, celebrity or even cash.

By contrast, marshaling a case to persuade those who start from a different position is a lost art. Honoring what's right in the other side's argument seems a superfluous thing that can only cause trouble, like an appendix. Politicos huddle with like-minded souls in opinion cocoons that seem impervious to facts.

And who was to blame? The Media is the obvious answer.

With due respect to Miller, a smart guy, politicians and partisans have never respected facts UNLESS they are required to do so. That is what a free press is supposed to do and simply does not anymore. Miller considers it a problem of a Media focused more on heat than light. I believe the problem goes much deeper than that. The utter disrespect for the truth exhibited by all media is the heart of the problem. Liars are not called liars. Falsehoods are not called falsehoods. What passes for reporting these days is "Republicans say . Democrats say __." When someone spews falsehoods, there is not a Media outlet in the country that will say 'that is false.' Not the New York Times, not the Washington Post, not any of them.

For crissakes, the former hack who had the title of Ombudsman for the Times claimed to stand up for truth by issuing slanderous falsehoods. Who was outraged? The Lefty blogs. Anybody else? Jay Rosen? Anyone?

I got bad news for Miller. The "beardstrokers," with few exceptions (Herbert, Krugman) have not demanded the truth. Miller wrote on social security and instead of demanding truth from the Bush Administration he chose to chastise Democrats for not being open to discussion. And you believe you can be persuasive with such an attitude? Not a mention of the pack of lies that Bush has peddled?

It is pretty simple, there will be no meaningful political discourse as long as lies are tolerated and ignored. To lament the loss of political persuasion while ignoring the elephant (pun intended) in the room is to insult the intelligence of your audience. And that is never persuasive.

Consider Ignatius himself. Does he believe that he stuck to the facts on Iraq? That he held the Bush Administration and Republicans and himself to a standard of truth? Of course not. The fact is Ignatius does not even know what rational discourse is. He has accepted and disseminated lies now for the past 4 years. Splitting the baby is NOT rational discourse Ignatius. "He said she said" reporting is NOT rational discourse.

The funny thing is Ignatius demonstrates his cluelessness in this very column. He writes:  

In Montana, Democrat Jon Tester is running ahead of Republican Sen. Conrad Burns by presenting himself as the ultimate regular guy, a lumpy ex-farmer with a bad haircut. One of his spots, "Creating a Buzz," actually celebrates his crew cut.

Jon Tester? The daily kos candidate in the Democratic primary against the centrist DLC candidate? The one who wants to repeal the Patriot Act? Sheesh. Ignatius lives in another world.

And how about this one:

The great synthesizer himself, Bill Clinton, was out campaigning this week for Deval Patrick, a member of the Clinton Justice Department who is running for governor of Massachusetts. "Everyone knows that, somehow, the wheel has run off of our national discourse and our common life," Clinton said Monday. "And people don't want us to shout at each other any more. They want to be talked to, reasoned with, lifted up."

See my post Bill Clinton Answers for my rebuttal on what Clinton thinks.  And Ignatius, it ain't pretty for you. The Big Dog thinks you stink. You'll excuse me for not giving Ignatius much respect - he seems to be a nice man but he is clueless.

< How To Govern | Last Call for Site Bugs >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Re: The Gatekeepers Are AWOL (none / 0) (#1)
    by John Forde on Wed Oct 18, 2006 at 10:08:40 AM EST
    The problem is quite simple. The entire newscast media is  commercially supported. It is not the job of commercial newscasters to tell us anything. The job of commercial newscasters is to sell advertising. It's a system that leads to willful blindness. Abducted blondes sell advertising. Suspended constitutions do not.

    Re: The Gatekeepers Are AWOL (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Wed Oct 18, 2006 at 10:14:49 AM EST
    the MSM, as a result of being accused by the right of being too "liberal", has cravenly abrogated its mandate to seek the truth. the leader has been the nyt's.

    not only has it not sought the truth, it has colluded with the right, by allowing outright lies and fabrication to be substituted for opinion, in its op/ed columns. this, in large part, resulted in the villification of al gore, and the selection of george bush as president in 2000. this trashing of gore continues to this day.

    the lies and villification continued with kerry, in 2004. again, we get stuck with bush, and iraq and abu ghraib, et al.

    those who pointed out the lies were themselves villified, as unpatriotic or too partisan. the MSM to this day refuses to do its job, and absolutely refuses to admit its role in the trashing of gore and kerry.

    this would explain the rise of the liberal blog, we needed something to counteract the right's takeover of the rest of the media.