In 1977’s It Didn’t Start with Watergate, Victor Lasky took a presidential-level snapshot of the power of the media in the sixties and seventies:
Shortly after the 1968 presidential election, [Lyndon Johnson, the outgoing president] had sought to warn the Vice President-elect about the antagonistic nature of the media.
“Young man,” he told Agnew, “We have in this country two big television networks, NBC and CBS. We have two news magazines, Newsweek and Time. We have two wire services, AP and UPI. We have two pollsters, Gallup and Harris. We have two big newspapers — the Washington Post and the New York Times. They’re all so damned big they think they own the country. But young man, don’t get any ideas about fighting.”
Flash-forward to 2010. As Kathy Shaidle quips, “It’s come to this: Cracked.com is the ‘paper’ of record.”
Heh. (And President John Edwards is no doubt laughing about those crazy stories in the National Enquirer.)
To paraphrase the Gipper, there is no limit to what a publication can do or where it can go, if its journalists don’t mind not being on the JournoList.
Related: “Bob Schieffer: I Didn’t Ask Holder About the Black Panther Thing Because I Didn’t Know About It” — “That reminds me of Charlie Gibson saying he didn’t report the ACORN scandal because he didn’t know about it.”
Meanwhile, Peggy Noonan longs for the days of old:
On Wall Street the concept of the statesman—the wealthy man who after a storied career enters public service and takes tough, risky stands on public policy issues—seems largely a thing of the past. In journalism the effects of cutbacks and lack of mentoring are showing their face, and will continue to. Maybe we’ll see it most dramatically when the lone person on the overnight news desk, aged 28, in a cavernous room with marks on the industrial carpet from where the desks used to be, gets the first word of the next, possibly successful terror event. On the Internet, you read the fierce posts of political and ideological writers and wonder, Why do so many young bloggers sound like hyenas laughing in the dark? Maybe it’s because there’s no old hand at the next desk to turn and say, “Son, being an enraged, profane, unmoderated, unmediated, hit-loving, trash-talking rage monkey is no way to go through life.”
But hey, at least the unmoderated, unmediated, hit-loving, trash-talking rage monkeys actually know about, you know, news.