What Durbin wants is what Durbin already knows and — back home in Chicago and at the national level in Washington — already has: sycophants, toadies, bum-smoochers and throne-sniffers. And what he doesn’t want is anything that upsets the Jake Lingle-run applecart that keeps NBC and its satellites firmly in the orbit of the Chicago politicians who pay their salaries. Durbin may be using the words “journalist” and “journalism,” but what he means is Establishment Journalism, which oddly enough is populated by the same kinds of people who currently populate government. They’ve all gone to the same schools and today live in the same neighborhoods, and they easily move back and forth between “journalism” and government service, as if they were the same thing. Which to them, they are.
And which does not affect their coverage at all. Not even a little bit.
I do not think “citizen journalism” is necessarily the miracle cure some consider it to be. I spent a year conceiving and executing the website Big Journalism with, and for, Breitbart, and my greatest difficulty there was trying to make him see that not everything about traditional journalism was a leftist plot. (I totally failed.) Today there remain some websites on the right that I simply do not either believe or trust, and I expect you can figure out which ones those are: they are marked by amateurish writing, shoddy reporting, and misapprehension of facts and circumstances that more experienced hands would instantly grasp. Further, there is something called “news judgment” — what is and what is not a story, which varies from editor to editor but which is vital to any institution, from the New York Times down to the lowliest blog, for it to have any credibility and influence.
But it doesn’t matter whether “citizen journalism” is better or worse than traditional journalism. All that matters is that it exists, and thus provides an alternative to what we have. Even with its flaws in style and methodology, blogging and tweeting have still brought us to a better place, information-wise, than we were during the “Progressive” era, when men like Walter Lippmann began the process of blending journalism with government to create one gigantic “expert” racket — for our own good. Here’s Lippman in a notorious passage from his book Public Opinion (1921):
It is argued that the problem of the press is confused because the critics and the apologists expect the press to realize this fiction, expect it to make up for all that was not foreseen in the theory of democracy, and that the readers expect this miracle to be performed at no cost or trouble to themselves. The newspapers are regarded by democrats as a panacea for their own defects, whereas analysis of the nature of news and of the economic basis of journalism seems to show that the newspapers necessarily and inevitably reflect, and therefore, in greater or lesser measure, intensify, the defective organization of public opinion.
My conclusion is that public opinions must be organized for the press if they are to be sound, not by the press as is the case today. This organization I conceive to be in the first instance the task of a political science that has won its proper place as formulator, in advance of real decision, instead of apologist, critic, or reporter after the decision has been made. I try to indicate that the perplexities of government and industry are conspiring to give political science this enormous opportunity to enrich itself and to serve the public. And, of course, I hope that these pages will help a few people to realize that opportunity more vividly, and therefore to pursue it more consciously.
Organizing opinions for the press is precisely what apparatchiks like Durbin are up to. To them, everything is a patronage game. Snuggled up against David Axelrod, Durbin thinks he’s living in high clover — protected from the consequences of his own corruption and stupidity by the likes of MSNBC’s very own administration mouthpiece/media Svengali.
They say that every man is a hero to his dog, but that no man is a hero to his valet. For decades, Democrat politicians have endeavored to reconcile those two opposites, by turning their valets in the media into their dogs. How well they’ve succeeded is in print and on the air for all to see and hear. How it galls them that just as they’ve finally seduced the Legacy Media, along comes this grubby upstart, pissing on their shoes and then refusing to shine them.