Ed Driscoll

WeinerGate versus the Summer of Nixon

While the press conference was ongoing, I was watching the video of the Breitbart-Weiner show in my computer’s right monitor, and had Weiner’s bete-noire, Tweetdeck, open in my left monitor. So during the mad rush of Tweets during the conference, when Jonah Goldberg retweeted the New York Times’ response, I thought for sure he was spoofing them.

No, the New York Times, which rumor has it was once something called a “newspaper,” actually tweeted, “Representative Anthony D. Weiner Acknowledges Communication With Women Online.”

Oh. Well, that’s certainly a nothingburger then. Move along, no news to see here.

As Mark Steyn writes:

Jonah, re that New York Times “news alert” — “Representative Anthony D. Weiner Acknowledges Communication With Women Online” — nobody who could write that headline with a straight face should be in the news business.

It’s one thing to lose the story to Andrew Breitbart because you’re too snooty to sully yourself with Weiner’s briefs. It’s another thing to pile on and support Weiner’s slandering of Breitbart out of ideological solidarity. But, when the congressman himself is at a press conference admitting he’s e-mailed explicit photos of himself around the Internet and you choose that headline to convey the story to your readers, you’re basically telling them you’re the paper for court eunuchs.

Which dovetails perfectly with Andrew Klavan’s remarks at the Tatler:

Watching Breitbart crush Weiner beneath his heel like an insignificant weiner, it occurs to me that Breitbart’s genius – and he really is an information genius – consists almost entirely of two pieces of knowledge:  one, leftists will lie knowing the media will back them and two, the media will back them.  With those two principles, he manages to make utter fools of both lying leftists and their corrupt mainstream media cronies again and again.  Not to mention again.  It’s wonderful.

And this is what the MSM both dreads and can’t come to grips with: much as every aging hippie wants to recapture the halcyon days of 1967 and the “Summer of Love,” the MSM wants to recapture that golden moment in 1974, when the news consisted of three commercial TV networks, PBS, AP, Reuters, and the writers’ bullpens at the New York Times and the Washington Post. (See also the JournoList, which was an attempt to recapture that moment in an era of otherwise decentralized media.)

I think Andrew knows this as well — which adds to his fun, and the fun that Rush, Drudge, and the starboard half of the Blogosphere are having reminding them that the legacy part of the phrase “the legacy media” means that they’re no longer the gatekeepers of information, and that 1974 is fading into the distance almost as much as the 1960s.

Which is why, no matter what happens to Weiner, today was a landmark day for New Media.

Related: Victor Davis Hanson on the Ruling Class and “The Collapse of a Rotten Edifice.”

Update: Former Democratic speechwriter turned cheerleader Chris Matthews, who dallied with the nascent media of the right in the 1990s because of his disgust with Bill Clinton, is so eager to circle the wagons to rehabilitate Weiner, it’s come to this: “Maybe [Weiner’s Wife] Was Partly Responsible:”

The Anchoress has a nice summation of the reaction of old media:

This is the problem with the mainstream media in a nutshell. They “know” the people they’re supposed to be covering, and they consider themselves “friends” of those people. And it has ruined them. As you listen to [Barbara] Walters, all you see is passionate advocacy; not a newswoman concerned with the truth of a story, but a partisan doing everything she can to divert attention from a story she doesn’t like — even to comparing a private citizen on a bus to a sitting congressman having some sort of cyber-engagement in his office — and championing her “friend.”

This has never been a nice story, which is why I haven’t written about it until now. But I still am less interested in Weiner than in how the press reacted to this story. Some were willing to believe him, simply because he said they should. Some seemed like they didn’t want to believe him, but didn’t want to not believe him, even more. The usual partisans tried to blame and smear the usual partisans.

We don’t actually have a genuine press any more.

Old Media tried to hang onto the “objective” canard for far too long — future historians will argue long and hard when that word ceased to be accurate, though.

Related: “The Borg deactivate,” at least temporarily. And don’t miss Richard Fernandez on “The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” — as Richard asks, “What does the truth look like before it’s revealed? Well what patterns are you prepared to see?” And how much does your ideology require you to circle the wagons?