Ed Driscoll

Has The Media's Red Queen's Race Begun?

What’s gotten into the water supply in America’s two biggest newspapers? Stephen Spruiell writes, “I think we’re witnessing a very public meltdown over on WashingtonPost.com”:

Earlier today William Arkin published a new post responding to those who took issue with his characterization of U.S. troops as bloodthirsty and ignorant mercenaries. But while the post can still be found by following the direct link, it has vanished from Arkin’s home page. Did someone at the Post direct him to take it down? Or did he himself have second thoughts about certain passages, like this one:

These men and women [in the military] are not fighting for money with little regard for the nation. The situation might be much worse than that: Evidently, far too many in uniform believe that they are the one true nation. They hide behind the constitution and the flag and then spew an anti-Democrat, anti-liberal, anti-journalism, anti-dissent, and anti-citizen message that reflects a certain contempt for the American people.

The best reaction so far is John’s from OpFor: “If there is a war that’s unwinnable, it’s the war on this type of horrid ignorance.”Ace has a good question too: “Since Arkin asserts that the troops should not be allowed to influence the public’s opinion on the war, and since the entire left demands that anyone supporting the war become a troop himself — has the left pretty much created a Catch-22 by which any and all support for the war is illegitimate?”

Allah has some related audio that you’ve got to hear to believe. Arkin’s piece represents a turning point — “baby killer” coming back into vogue. How tragic.

Ace asks another good question:

I’m especially taken by [Arkin’s] central complaint about the connn-unnn-drumm that the US military no longer (as if it ever did) perfectly represents the broader beliefs and traits of American society.Question: What about the connn-unnn-drummm that the US media represents the broader American society even less?

That’s a topic we’ve explored extensively on this site from time to time; here are a couple of representative samples.

Meanwhile, regarding an even larger–if much more fiscally shaky–paper up the Northest Corrider, Charles Johnson adds that the “New York Times Hits Bottom, Digs”:

On the heels of Washington Post writer William Arkin’s anti-military piece, now we have the New York Times publishing a picture and video of a US soldier dying in Iraq—before his family was notified. And even though the Times says they’re going to apologize, the video is still there.This is a new low. The media are in full-tilt failure-promotion mode, and they don’t care who they have to hurt to do it.

Michelle Malkin has more: The NYTimes’ unspeakable violation.

So far the Blogosphere has spotted Chernobyl-style meltdowns in credibility by CBS, the Washington Post, Newsweek, AP, and on numerous occasions, the New York Times and Reuters.

When I interviewed Glenn Reynolds last year for my TCS Daily article on An Army Of Davids, he quoted a passage from Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End that “utopia was a Red Queen’s Race with extinction“. Glenn added, “Even if things are going terribly, it will seem like it’s going well, right up until the end”.

Have the mainstream media quietly begun some sort of Red Queen’s Race of their own? Or is the Blogosphere merely getting increasingly better at catching the media’s worst moments and publicizing them? By and large, I believe the general public has come to believe that the vast majority of old media outlets lean to the left, despite the exponentially diminishing claims of objectivity. And since half the country does as well, newspapers and television have a wide audience to aim their content. So does that mean that Blogosphere complaints about the MSM are being read as mere partisan sniping?

The media as a whole aren’t going away any time soon, of course (although Hugh Hewitt might argue with that). They’re too well funded via advertising, subscriptions, stocks, bonds, and other revenue. But it seems like something has to change–the accumulated weight of all of the errors, gaffes, and uses of wildly slanted tone in otherwise “objective” reporting has to begin to register at some point.

Let’s assume there won’t be another household name figure like Dan Rather taking a second very public, very spectacular fall from grace anytime soon. How much longer can the media keep all of these gaffes that don’t involve a household name media figure under the mat? Sooner or later, the broader public that wouldn’t know a Weblog from an iPod will become aware of just how badly a once Elite Media has performed this decade.

Related: Here’s a possible Red State Red Queen’s Race brewing.