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Ed Driscoll

Observation Can Become an Intervention — The Reverse Is Also True

October 2nd, 2012 - 7:08 pm

“Obama’s Other Race Speech,” as Matt Drudge describes it, is now online at the Daily Caller. In response, at the Tatler, Bryan Preston writes, “Simply put, Barack Obama was and still is Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s most studious and successful disciple.”

And if you missed it on Fox News earlier tonight, clips of Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity’s discussion of the above video are now online at YouTube.

Regarding the media’s attempt at “BenSmithing” the above video (as John Nolte would say), Andrew Ferguson’s “Press Man” back page column at Commentary seems prescient. Ferguson’s column is always my first read when the new issue arrives each month. I believe his newest column is currently behind the subscriber paywall, but he makes a great observation in the excerpt below, beginning with a riff on the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle:

Heisenberg’s principle can be crudely generalized (it’s the best I can do) as follows: An observer can change the nature of a thing or an event merely through the act of observation. Observation all by itself can become an intervention. Heisenberg was describing how reality works at the level of quantum mechanics, where a wave becomes a particle and vice versa depending on how it’s being measured. But it applies, too, at the level of political journalism, where reality is even stranger. There, facts can become interpretations, interpretations can become facts, and events of no significance can achieve an earthshaking importance simply by virtue of being pawed over by a large number of journalists.

A typical journalist, if he’s any good, insists at least theoretically on the iron divide between observer and participant. At its best the press corps sees itself as a squadron of Red Cross workers, wandering among the combatants in a battle zone and ensuring their own safety with a claim of strict neutrality. The Heisenberg Principle of Journalism puts the lie to all that. You see it at work whenever a news anchor announces that “this story just refuses to go away” or a headline writer insists that “questions continue to be raised” about the conduct of one hapless public figure or another.

The story refuses to go away, of course, because the anchor and his colleagues won’t let it; and the questions that continue to be raised are being raised by the headline writer and his editors. Reporters create more news than anybody, just by pretending they’re watching it unfold.

And the reverse is true as well:

For decades, the establishment media has been in the tank for the left — to the point where Bill Clinton was paraphrased by the Washington Post in 2006 as saying, “There is an expectation among Democrats that establishment old media organizations are de facto allies.”

Or to put it another way, as the Washington Examiner notes tonight in an editorial, “To believe Obama is to forget the last four years.” That’s what both the Obama administration and their palace guard are hoping.

But both halves of the equation used to be better at going through the motions of pretending about the nation’s welfare.

Update: “Hannity Does Devastating Side-By-Side Comparison Of Obama’s Two Race Speeches.”

And Glenn Reynolds notes:

SO IN RESPONSE TO THE NEW OBAMA VIDEO DROP, one establishment political journalist tells me it’s no big deal because everyone knows Obama’s a big lefty, talks blacker when with black audiences, etc., etc.

But the thing is, in 2004-2008, Obama sold himself as a black guy who wasn’t in the mold of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. So when he sounds like that, it’s a contradiction. You know, the kind of hypocrisy the press usually goes after in politicians. Unless, as with Obama, the press is trying to drag them across the finish line. Because there’s no way they’re going to let Obama be a one-termer, when the hated W got two. . . .

Old news — “except for new parts media edited out,” Twitchy adds.

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