Bonfire of the MSM's Vanities

“Media Ignorance Is Becoming A Serious Problem,” Mollie Hemingway writes at the Federalist, in a must-read article on the pitiful 21st century state of the MSM. “Remember how President Reagan once quipped, ‘The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn’t so’? Yeah, well, I think the ignorance may be turning into a problem,” Hemingway writes, with telling quotes from Zach Carter of the Huffington Post (recently defenestrated by Hugh Hewitt), Kate Zernike of the New York Timeswho has zero knowledge of Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek — and the Los Angeles Times’ David Savage, among other Democrat operatives with bylines.


But Hemingway really goes for the rhetorical jugular when it comes to “The special category that is Matt Yglesias”:

Perhaps no living writer more fully embraces unabashed ignorance than Yglesias. I couldn’t begin to adequately catalogue the examples but interested readers might enjoy “Does Matthew Yglesias Ever Tire Of Being Embarrassingly Wrong About Everything?” and “Taming The Fury Of Rage: How Not To Write, Starring Slate’s Matt Yglesias.”

Everyone has their favorite example of Matt Yglesias not knowing what the heck he’s talking about. I have many, including his confusion over why the Vatican has a separate embassy from Italy and the day he found out about the Everglades.

But whatever your topic, you can find a good Yglesian whiff on it. Finance. Demeny voting. Mac vs. PC. Public Choice theory. Common figures of speech. Telecommunications policy. Hugo Chavez. The United States Senate. Black conservatives. Obamacare implementation. The U.S. Senate again. Democratic presidential primaries. Tort reform. John Edwards. Hayek and Coase. Telling the truth. Knowing about rent-seeking. The list is endless.


One of the items that zooms by in Hemingway’s incredible assemblage of Yglesiasian hyperlinks is “Telling the truth.” Let’s pause on that for a moment, as this focuses on a telling statement the former Washington Post employee tweeted a few years ago:


The journalists who populated America’s newspapers in the pre-Watergate 20th century by and large weren’t Columbia Journalism School graduates, but for the most part, blue collar types who could pound their Underwoods and had a keen sense for wanting to know who was screwing who over what and a desire to share it with the world. (See The Front Page or His Girl Friday to get a sense of this era of journalism.) Similarly, Mark Steyn has noted that in England, “Fleet Street was a great place, because the whole culture of British journalism was these kind of hard-drinking, scurrilous, unrespectable hacks. And compared to the kind of pompous, acetic, clean-living blowhards of today’s mainstream media in the United States, I’d rather have all those grubby Fleet Street guys.”


No matter how many degrees they have on their cubicle walls, today’s MSM journalists are, if anything, much more ignorant about the state of their city and America — and certainly about the average Joe who reads their paper, whom they openly despise — than the hardscrabble predecessors who earned their papers’ reputations. Couple that with a growing number who openly admit to deceiving their readers with a postmodern Clinton-esque nonchalance about lying, and no wonder, as Hemingway writes:

Trust in the media has hit record lows, according to a new Gallup poll.

I can’t help but suspect this statistic would look less grim if our media were even slightly more informed about the things they act like they know so much about.

No one in the MSM will read Hemingway’s piece, even though they would benefit the most from her advice. But as I said, definitely read the whole thing.

Oh and by the way, her line plaintively asking if only “our media were even slightly more informed about the things they act like they know so much about” explains volumes about their collective bobbysoxer swoon for the presidential candidate they would go on to champion with such veracity in 2007 and 2008, doesn’t it?

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Update: “Binyamin Appelbaum, writer for the New York Times Magazine, had apparently never heard of Max Weber’s 1905 book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, one of the most influential books of the 20th century.”



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