Ed Driscoll

Old Media Botches Story, Plays Victim Card

In a post titled “Dancing on the graves of ‘old media,'” the Politico’s Dylan Byers quotes an email sent to him by an unnamed “television industry executive” who wishes you kids in new media would stay off his mansion’s well-manicured lawn, dammit:

While it’s a shame that credible “old media” organizations can blow something as big as this [QED — Ed], it’s equally a shame that the twitterverse, blogosphere, etc, feels the need to dance on their graves.

The snark on Twitter has reached new heights… it’s not about getting to the truth or serving the public good, it’s about who can make the wittiest joke to impress their friends. This is an important story for the nation, and reporters from organizations new and old are trying to cover it. People make mistakes.

But, the Fourth Estate, flawed though it is, was set-up to be a watchdog for the Republic. Is there now a Fifth Estate — the social media universe that purports to be keeping an eye on the Fourth estate but really is just looking out for themselves?

Play that victim card!  It reminds me very much of what Time-Warner-CNN-HBO-employed sports journalist Peter King blurted out to Ann Coulter in 2009. Here’s a flashback to King and my response:

A few years ago, I noted how politicized Sports Illustrated had become, turning what was once an escape from the news and politics of the day into just another front in the culture wars. (Follow the links here for the flashbacks, which include–shocker!–at least a couple of Sports Illustrated columnists essentially wishing failure in the War On Terror upon President Bush.) Today, SI’s Peter King is quoted as writing:

“Thanks, Ann Coulter, for reveling in the decline of the liberal newspapers,” King wrote. “Nice of you to be making the great money you obviously make while hard-working reporters and editors and photographers — from liberal and conservative papers alike — are being put on the street every day. This is a crisis without ideological fault lines, sister. And the New York Times isn’t going anywhere.”

Well, except for being further diluted in monopolistic influence and further down the NYSE. And it actually is a crisis with some rather prominent ideological fault lines. It was during the bitter end of their long run of journalistic exclusivity that the legacy media were so smug and dismissive to those who would supplant their monopoly. To set the scene, here’s a quote from David Gelernter just before the lights started going off in old media:

“Today’s elite loathes the public. Nothing personal, just a fundamental difference in world view, but the hatred is unmistakable. Occasionally it escapes in scorching geysers. Michael Lewis reports in the New Republic on the ‘96 Dole presidential campaign: ‘The crowd flips the finger at the busloads of journalists and chant rude things at them as they enter each arena. The journalists, for their part, wear buttons that say ‘yeah, i’m the Media. Screw You.’ The crowd hates the reporters, the reporters hate the crowd– an even matchup, except that the reporters wield power and the crowed (in effect) wields none.”

But they would soon enough–and the transition had already begun by 1996, as Will Collier wrote earlier today:

Unless you have a monopoly, you can’t get away with sneering at your customers for very long. The newspaper’s monopoly died in 1995, when the internet brought information to the fingertips of anybody with a modem. The dinosaur media never understood that they were in a tar pit from that moment on, and now it’s too late for them to change their ways and crawl back out.

Sorry, you can’t simultaneously, publicly loathe us (see also: Everyone at MSNBC, and Piers Morgan, Anderson Cooper, and the recently departed Soledad O’Brien at CNN), and then pretend to be outraged if we point out your flaws.

We know how much you hate your viewers. Try not to act so outraged that they have a voice too, now.

Update: Byers doesn’t name which network employs the TV executive whose email he quotes, but CNN has double the reason to lash out today at its viewers: even the FBI is telling the network to dial it down a notch, hoss.