Ed Driscoll

Old Media's Malfunctioning Möbius Loop

Near the end of England’s Anorak News’ round-up a couple of weeks ago on the bogus Rush Limbaugh quotes that the MSM jumped on, is a pretty good primer on life in the old media cocoon:

The old media now works like this: a source with a fake name makes up a fake quote and sticks it on the web. A lazy hack with an agenda reads the quote and presents it as fact. The person who is said to have made the utterance says it’s a lie. The target is then asked to prove it. And it can only become an un-fact when a source with fake name goes to a website and says it is fake.

Want to be there when the mainstream media dies? You already are…

Indeed. And near the end of a round-up of “What If Bush Had Done This” moments from President Obama, Ed Morrissey notes this passage on how old media collectively drafts an overarching narrative for a politician on the national stage, and then lives and dies by it, from Josh Gerstein of the Politico:

But others say there’s a larger phenomenon at work — in the story line the media wrote about Obama’s presidency. For Bush, the theme was that of a Big Business Republican who rode the family name to the White House, so stories about secret energy meetings and a certain laziness, intellectual and otherwise, fit neatly into the theme, to be replayed over and over again.

Obama’s story line was more positive from the start: historic newcomer coming to shake up Washington. So the negatives that sprung up around Obama — like a sense that he was more flash than substance — track what negative coverage he’s received, captured in a recent “Saturday Night Live” skit that made fun of his lack of accomplishments in office.

As Ed writes:

In other words, the press has a story line that they have to defend.  If Obama gets exposed as a flop, and worse as a typical Chicago pol, then it makes their failure to properly vet Obama during the primaries that much more clear.  In a sense, they created Obama, and his collapse would be their collapse as well.

Only one quibble there — “in a sense”?

Related: “Scalia Gets Misquoted, Badly”, Mary Katharine Ham notes: “Be on guard for the day when this anecdote falsely attributed to Antonin Scalia becomes lefty “fake but accurate” conventional wisdom about the Supreme Court justice.”