Ed Driscoll

The Password is 'Trolling'

Say, H.L. Mencken, what’s your take on the state of journalism?

I believed then, as I believe now, that it is the prime function of a really first-rate newspaper to serve as a sort of permanent opposition in politics, and I tried to show that the Sun, because of its geographical situation, had a superb opportunity to discharge that function effectively. Baltimore was but forty miles from Washington — and the Washington papers were all third-rate, and seemed doomed to remain so forever, for the overwhelming majority of their readers were petty Federal jobholders, which is to say, half-wits. In consequence of their badness all Washington officials in the higher brackets had to read out-of-town papers, and not a few of them, including Wilson, read the Sun, for that was in the days before airships, and the Sun could get to Washington with news nearly five hours earlier than the news in the New York morning papers…The rudiments of the New Deal were already visible in those days, and I did not neglect to sneer at the “utopian ideas, economical, political, and ethical” that were going about…

Thirty-five Years of Newspaper Work: A Memoir by H. L. Mencken, written in 1941-42; the above passage focuses on Mencken’s career during the early 1920s.

Flash-forward ninety years:

The Examiner, Washington Times, and Center for American Freedom’s teams were only fractions of the size of the CNN or New York Times teams in Charlotte. But they wrote the convention’s distracting stories.

JournoList member Dave Weigel, writing in the Washington Post-owned Slate, in a piece titled “The Age of Trolling — How a small band of conservatives generated half of the Democratic Convention’s headlines.”

Which our crack reporter government stenographer believes is a bad thing.

Ace of Spades responds:

95% of the convention was pre-scripted advertisement. It was a pageant, with a fixed outcome. Most conventions are.

The actual “news” is the stuff that happens that wasn’t scripted — that is, what the conservative “trolls” like YidWithLid reported on.

But Dave Wiegel considers the news a “distraction” from the pre-scripted Democratic Messaging Operation.

The Narrative

Any facts which “distract” from it are nonfacts and thus non-news.

Hey, just ask the JournoList’s boss.

Related: “In Which Dave Weigel Forgets He Was a Member of JournoList.”