“The soft sophistry of low absolutism”
Over at Redstate, a Moe Lane Redhot – “Line of the day, Reason Hit & Run edition” caught my eye. In that blurb, Matt Welch of Reason, in the words of Moe “eviscerates” a piece written by Ezra Klein at the Washington Post in which Klein makes the case for government funding of newspapers and news media in general.
In explaining away the Washington Post’s near-criminal negligence in soliciting bribes and pedaling influence by offering, for the mere pittance of $250,000, to put together government officials, news reporters and interested businessmen, Klein attempts to make his case for government sponsorship of the news.
The pull quote that Moe highlights from the Welch piece, perfectly encapsulates the mindset of the left on the dissemination of news. Welch calls it “the soft sophistry of low absolutism.”
The left does not see any conflict between government sponsorship of the news and government ownership of the news. Although a few veteran White House correspondents might find themselves perturbed over the fact that Huffington Post bloggers were alerted the night before a “Townhall Meeting” that they would be called upon to ask a particular “spontaneous” question, those same correspondents find nothing sinister about regular morning conference calls between Rahm Emanuel and a small band of his media buddies to discuss the news of the day — and how that news should be reported in the media.
The White House press corps is perturbed not because of the blatant manipulation of the news, but because they consider themselves to be the gatekeepers of the halls of power, and they resent the usurpation of their prerogative.
Klein, in his defense of government funding of the news, points to European Socialist states — why do the leftists in this country always look to European Socialists as their model of what they envision for this nation’s future? — and to our own NPR, PBS and university system as evidence that public money does not prevent public criticism of government.
Meanwhile, it’s not as if NPR or the BBC seem particularly concerned about criticizing their respective governments (nor, for that matter, do professors at public universities seem particularly cowed).
Certainly officials at those news organizations feel no compunction at criticizing Conservatives in their respective governments – or any Republican in this country — but I long for the NPR documentary that explores in depth the Tony Rezko involvement in the home purchased by President Obama, or the incredible amount of public monies funneled to various Rezko owned housing projects. Can anyone say “Grove Parc Plaza?”
I eagerly await the public university that allows Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and Jonah Goldberg free access to speak their minds without being shouted down, assaulted and vilified. Free speech at American universities is entirely dependent upon the content of said speech — the more liberally anti-American biased, the more welcome.
Klein’s piece agonizes over the ethical difficulties of newspapers, and other news gathering organizations, needing advertising revenue to survive. This is a perfectly understandable concern in a business that is finding itself more and more deprived of that revenue, as public confidence in the honesty and objectivity of the practitioners of journalism wanes.
When journalists who make a living reporting and commenting upon politics come to a near-universal “consensus” of opinion — when “Talking Points” identical wording finds itself into the works of JournoList bloggers and journalists all across the country in their objective reporting of news — when public perception of Journalism places news gatherers below even that of politician — the profession hardly needs the infusion of government taxpayer funding to return themselves to respectability.
Speaking of that incestuous JournoList, it was that very same Ezra Klein who created and then defended the liberal bias exhibited there as nothing more than a free discussion of ideas. Liberal ideas, that is!
Not at all, says Ezra Klein, the 24-year-old American Prospect blogging wunderkind who formed JournoList in February 2007. “Basically,” he says, “it’s just a list where journalists and policy wonks can discuss issues freely.”
But some of the journalists who participate in the online discussion say — off the record, of course — that it has been a great help in their work. On the record, The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin acknowledged that a Talk of the Town piece — he won’t say which one — got its start in part via a conversation on JournoList. And JLister Eric Alterman, The Nation writer and CUNY professor, said he’s seen discussions that start on the list seep into the world beyond.
Pseudo-journalists like Klein see nothing wrong with a merger of government and news because, like the Constitution, they see truth as a living breathing entity that can mean whatever the current definition of truth happens to be.
Klein and his ilk are of a habit of looking to government for answers to almost any societal ill, and so it is only natural that they would look toward government to rectify the difficult need for news organizations to serve their audience in such a manner that that audience is willing to pay for the privilege.
When they, as gatekeepers to the news, find themselves becoming irrelevant, the natural inclination of their kind is to look to government to reinstate their relevance. That a public perception of bias, already in evidence, would become overwhelming should the government become the owner of the news, and not merely the sponsor of the news as it is now exists, is beyond the understanding of these “journalists.”
Klein’s opinion is entirely within the mainstream of the Socialists now in charge of our federal government. Understanding of the need, or for that matter even the desire, for profit is beyond the ken of these practitioners of the public good.
They see the Fifth Estate as a co-equal branch of the government — and a government paycheck would cement that perception in the minds of the public. That would not be a good thing for our Republic, or for those who still hold some reverence for the United States Constitution.