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DOES IT? DOES IT REALLY? New data casts doubt on Facebook’s commitment to quality news.

Some recent data on the best-performing news brands on Facebook seems to show that high-quality new sources are getting less engagement on Facebook and lower quality sites are getting a lot more. This is the exact opposite of what CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised just last week, when he said the company was working to elevate quality journalism in the news feed, while cutting down on the visibility of fake news and clickbait.

NewsWhip, a social-media metrics company, tracks the “most engaged” sites on the network as measured by likes, comments, reactions, and shares. In its ranking for April, Fox News climbed from third place to first with more than 30 million engagements, while previous leader CNN dropped to second with 24 million. The Daily Mail rose to fourth from seventh and a site called Daily Wire, which specializes in alt-right news, climbed to eighth with 14 million engagements.

“Alt-right news.” Well, the Columbia Journalism Review obviously isn’t “quality news.”


The comingling of black nationalism with intersectional politics has produced a new generation (often of second-generation radicals) that dresses up its racism not only in the lyricism of the old black nationalism of Wright and Baraka, but in the obtuse academic jargon of intersectionality.

That’s where Tamika Mallory and Ta-Nehisi Coates come from. But political word salads and poetry only conceal what you choose not to pay attention to. And that’s why we’re talking about Louis Farrakhan.

The mass of progressive media articles, essays and explainers deployed to protect the Women’s March can be summed up as, “Stop paying attention.” And what we’re not supposed to be paying attention to is the slow death of liberalism and its substitution by the intolerant tribal extremism of identity politics.

It’s why the echo chamber of progressive media has turned against the New York Times editorial page where too many articles questioning identity politics and political censorship have appeared. Bari Weiss and Quinn Norton, articulate young women, are the most immediate targets, but the larger target is James Bennet, the page’s gatekeeper, who is unwisely giving liberals a glimpse of where they’re headed.

The remaining liberals still wandering the open plains of a dying ecosystem don’t understand that they are becoming extinct. When they endorse vocal identity politics movements, it is because they believe that addressing the grievances of their extremists is a necessary step to a tolerant colorblind society.

They haven’t grasped that a tolerant multiracial society is the last thing supremacists of any race want.

Read the whole thing.

THE MAN WHO INVENTED THE WEB: We need a ‘legal or regulatory framework’ to save the Web from dominant tech platforms.

The British computer scientist issued an open letter today, 29 years to the day after he first proposed his idea for the online information management system that would later become known as the Web. In the letter, he outlined what he thinks we need to do to save the Web from the concentration of power of a “few dominant platforms” that has “made it possible to weaponize the Web at scale.”

The likes of Facebook, Google, and Twitter have faced increasing scrutiny over the roles they play in disseminating fake news — while also serving as easy vehicles for third parties, including foreign governments, to manipulate public opinion.

“The Web that many connected to years ago is not what new users will find today,” Berners-Lee noted. “What was once a rich selection of blogs and websites has been compressed under the powerful weight of a few dominant platforms. This concentration of power creates a new set of gatekeepers, allowing a handful of platforms to control which ideas and opinions are seen and shared.”

In the meantime, keep getting your news from friendly bloggers instead of from soulless algorithms developed by gazillion-dollar tech giants.

OUR DIGITAL GATEKEEPERS: Facebook Threatens Satire Site Babylon Bee over CNN Story That Snopes Rated ‘False.’

ADMITTING YOU HAVE A PROBLEM IS THE FIRST STEP: Naysayers will invariably discount anything James O’Keefe records, but this recording from Project Veritas is yet more grist for the mill about why legacy media is trusted about as much as used car salesmen (or lawyers). I really don’t mind ex-campaign staffers working for news organizations, but when they are so brazen about applying their agenda as editorial gatekeepers…

Dudich goes on to explain what he might do to target President Trump:

“I’d target his businesses, his dumb fuck of a son, Donald Jr., and Eric…Get people to boycott going to his hotels. Boycott… So a lot of the Trump brands, if you can ruin the Trump brand and you put pressure on his business and you start investigating his business and you start shutting it down, or they’re hacking or other things. He cares about his business more than he cares about being President. He would resign. Or he’d lash out and do something incredibly illegal, which he would have to.”

When the undercover journalist asks Dudich if he could make sure that the anti-Trump stories make it to the front, he replied, “Oh, we always do.” Now to be fair, it might be a simple case of a low-level nobody talking smack and trying to impress someone and overstating his importance. But it’s a good thing they have a Public Editor  to sort this out. Oh, wait…

I BLAME THE RUSSIANS: Google and Facebook Have Failed Us: The world’s most powerful information gatekeepers neglected their duties in Las Vegas. Again. “In the crucial early hours after the Las Vegas mass shooting, it happened again: Hoaxes, completely unverified rumors, failed witch hunts, and blatant falsehoods spread across the internet. But they did not do so by themselves: They used the infrastructure that Google and Facebook and YouTube have built to achieve wide distribution. These companies are the most powerful information gatekeepers that the world has ever known, and yet they refuse to take responsibility for their active role in damaging the quality of information reaching the public.”

I used to feel differently, but after everything I’ve heard about “fake news,” Russian election-meddling, etc., the conclusion is unavoidable: To protect national security, President Trump must nationalize Google, Facebook, and Twitter, and place them under close control by the Executive Branch. It’s the logical response to everything I’ve been hearing since he was elected.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: How U.S. News college rankings promote economic inequality on campus: Once ladders of social mobility, universities increasingly reinforce existing wealth, fueling a backlash that helped elect Donald Trump.

The lack of economic diversity extends far beyond the Ivy League, and now includes scores of private and public universities, according to the Equality of Opportunity Project, which used tax data to study campus economic trends from 2000 to 2011, the most recent years available. For instance, the University of Michigan enrolls just 16 percent of its student body from the bottom 60 percent of earners. Nearly 10 percent of its students are from the top 1 percent. . . .

Class-based anger was a driving factor in the 2016 presidential campaign, as white voters without college degrees vented their frustration by voting for Donald Trump in record numbers; it was the single best statistical predictor of a Trump voter. In the wake of Trump’s election, the majority of Republicans say colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country, according to the latest polling by the Pew Research Center. Young people still see college as necessary to get a good job and move up in society. But the vast majority don’t believe the higher education system is helping them do that, according to a recent report by New America, a Washington-based think tank.

“Elite colleges are part of the apparatus that produces Trumpism and produces working class, white resentment,” said Walter Benn Michaels, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“It fits perfectly into Trump’s narrative … Basically, if you’re a low-income or working-class white student who works hard and you find out that what matters in admissions is who your daddy is, or what your race is, you’re completely left out,” said Richard Kahlenberg, senior fellow at the Century Foundation. “When a politician like Donald Trump comes along and says the system is rigged, you’re very likely to believe that. In this case, it is rigged — against those students.”

Well, we need to do something about that. For starters, we can abolish the Ivy League. But the real answer is to take away higher education’s role as gatekeeper to the upper-middle and upper classes.

Plus: “If you could deliver the same quality at lower cost, you’d go down in the rankings.”

Related: Me: America’s New Class System.

Also: Abolish The Ivy League.

RICHARD HASEN: Speech in America is fast, cheap and out of control.

He says that like it’s a bad thing.

In the old days, just a handful of TV networks controlled the airwaves, and newspapers served as gatekeepers for news and opinion content. A big debate back in the 1980s and earlier was how to enable free expression for those who did not own or work for a media company and wanted to get a message out.

In 1995, UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh wrote a remarkably prescient Yale Law Journal article looking ahead to the coming Internet era. In “Cheap Speech and What It Will Do,” Volokh foresaw the rise of streaming music and video services such as Spotify and Netflix, the emergence of handheld tablets for reading books, the demise of classified advertising in the newspaper business, and more generally how technology would usher in radical new opportunities for readers, viewers and listeners to custom design what they read, saw and heard, while at the same time undermining the power of intermediaries including publishers and bookstore owners.

To Volokh, these changes were exciting and democratizing. But 22 years later, the picture of what the cheap-speech boom has wrought seems considerably darker. No doubt the Internet has dramatically lowered the costs of obtaining information and spurred the creation and consumption of content from radically diverse sources. Anyone with an idea can now get it out on Facebook, Twitter or any number of other sites accessible to anyone in the world with an Internet connection. And cheap speech has been a boon to those fighting oppressive regimes around the world, as truthful messages and relevant information can spread despite government censorship efforts.

Less positively, cheap speech has undermined mediating and stabilizing institutions of American democracy, including newspapers and political parties, with negative social and political consequences.

Freedom of speech is enshrined in the Constitution; the power of information gatekeepers is not.

The Founders knew what they were doing.

EQUALITY IS FINE SO LONG AS IT HAPPENS TO OTHER PEOPLE: Democrat Freaks Out After Trump Threatens to Take Away Congress’s Special Obamacare ‘Carve-Out.’

“What they were saying is, ‘We want a little special carve-out,’” Henry said. “Now, will the president be able to do away with that? Who knows. Maybe it’s just rhetoric. But he is pointing out that these lawmakers, who didn’t have the courage of their convictions … he’s saying, ‘Maybe I am going to expose your special deal.’”

Henry argued that Trump’s message “resonates” with a lot of Americans.

It resonates because the American ruling class is entitled, intolerant, and incompetent — and the internet has made it impossible for Washington’s media gatekeepers to cover for them.

IT’S COME TO THIS: Vox Lectures CNN on Journalistic Ethics.

A plain reading of CNN’s article, however, contradicts what the network and Kaczynski are saying. If CNN really intended to withhold HanAssholeSolo’s information regardless of what he did, then why didn’t the news organization say it was withholding his private information simply because he’s a private citizen? Why did it go on to add all the conditions about his behavior? And why did it say it could release the private information with an explicit condition tied to his behavior?

Personally, if I reported this story, it would have been pretty straightforward: “CNN is not publishing ‘HanAssholeSolo’s’ name because he is a private citizen.” Period. The rest of the information in that paragraph is unnecessary, because a media organization simply shouldn’t release a private citizen’s personal information. He shouldn’t have his private information threatened just because the president picked up one of his Reddit shitposts, which he made with the expectation that he would be kept anonymous. (Though it is a truly bizarre turn of events that it’s even possible to write this sentence.)

In journalism, there is a clear line between public and private figures. Public figures are held to a higher standard — since they represent not just themselves but their offices, their industries, and so on. But private figures are given a veil of privacy, since it’s not really in the public interest to get some random person’s private information.

Just imagine if the situation was flipped. Someone with liberal views posts a wrestling GIF of a Democratic politician beating up a man whose head is the Fox News logo. The liberal politician then picks up this wrestling GIF, tweeting it. A background check of this Reddit user then reveals he’s made some ugly comments in the past — about conservative female politicians and journalists in particular.

Should Fox News be allowed to tell this Reddit user that they will release his private information if he doesn’t behave as Fox News wants? Should Fox really be a gatekeeper of what goes up on Reddit and other social media? Should people trust Fox News or any other media outlet with this kind of power?

My guess is many liberals wouldn’t appreciate Fox News doing this. And they shouldn’t.

That’s different because Fox.

SALENA ZITO: Promised Land Lost.

Only ghosts and shadows haunt the empty halls of Sheaffer Pens, the onetime giant pen manufacturer on H Street.

Its locked doors and worn brick stand like weary sentinels along the banks of the Mississippi in this struggling southeast Iowa river-and-railroad town.

Rust weeps through the paint on the window frames; the once magnificent illuminated-letters sign with the trademark white dot that faced Illinois is gone, no longer serving as a gatekeeper for its fortress of employees.

At its peak, it employed more than 2,500 people in a town of 14,000; nearly everyone here had someone in their family who worked there — sometimes, two or three or more.

By the time they were bought out by French-owned BIC in 2003, the 40 employees left in the iconic company’s pen-point assembly department were told it was only a matter of time before the operation would be moved to a third-party manufacturer in Asia; Slovakia would become the home for customer service, purchasing, warehousing and distribution work, as well as packaging and quality control.

What made Sheaffer special?


Read the whole thing.

It’s a sad story, and one repeated in too many town across the nation. But relying on fountain pen sales in the second decade of the 21st Century might indicate that the ingenuity had run dry.

SALENA ZITO: The crisis in American journalism benefits no one.

Beginning in the 1980s, Washington and New York City newsrooms began to be dominated by people who had the same backgrounds; for the most part they went to the same Ivy League journalism schools, where they made the right contacts and connections to get their jobs.

Yes, elite networks are a thing not just in law schools, as “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance so aptly described of his experiences in law school. They also exist in Ivy League or elite journalism schools.

And the journalists who came from working-class roots found it in their best interest to adopt the conventional, left-of-center views that were filling the halls of newsrooms.

In short, after a while you adopt the culture you exist in either out of survival or acceptance or a little of both. Or you really just wanted to shed your working-class roots for a variety of reasons: shame, aspiration, ascension, etc.

That does not make them bad people – aspiration is the heart of the American Dream — but it did begin the decline of connection between elite journalism institutions such as the New York Times and the Washington Post and the rest of the country.

So when fewer and fewer reporters shared the same values and habits of many of their consumers, inferences in their stories about people of faith and their struggles squaring gay marriage or abortion with their belief systems were picked up by the readers.

Pro-tip, don’t think people can’t pick up an inference, even the most subtle, in the written word. It is as evident as a news anchor rolling his eyes at someone on his panel he doesn’t agree with.

Same goes for job losses, particularly in coal mines or manufacturing. News reports filled with how those job losses help the environment are not going to sit well with the person losing their job. Also: Just because they have a job that faces an environmental challenge does not mean they hate the environment.

For 20 years these news organizations, along with CBS, NBC and ABC, were the only game in town. They served as gatekeepers of information, and as their newsrooms became more and more detached from the center of the country, consumers began to become detached from them.

And then along came the Internet. Not only were different sources now available, but news aggregators such as Drudge made it easy to find things giving everyone access to “alternative facts.”

The universe of information expanded, and it became clear that what Peter Jennings, Dan Rather or the New York Times told consumers was not the whole story, and if you were a conservative (and a plurality of Americans self-identify as center right) you lost all trust in the mainstream media.

If you wish to be trusted, be trustworthy.

THE STUPIDEST STATUE. At Commentary, Noah Rothman writes:

Last week, an idol was erected in the streets of Manhattan: a bronze statue of a defiant young girl standing rigid and resolute in the face of the iconic Wall Street bull. It seems we are to be bludgeoned by expressions of cultural fealty to the statue until our will to resist is broken.

The statue’s alleged purpose—both stated by its sponsors and plainly evident in the figure’s demeanor—is to present a challenge to orthodoxy. It is a call to address the perception that there are not enough women amid the rarefied ranks of Fortune 500 boards. This audacious assault on the staid prejudices of the gatekeepers of wealth and power in America was sponsored by the exclusive Boston-based investment services company State Street Global Advisors and approved by the New York City Parks Department. If the aim of this artistic display was to challenge intractable conventions and change minds, they chose an audience that has been uniquely receptive to their message.

As PJM’s own Roger Kimball noted a decade ago at his publication the New Criterion, PC England once again led the way; the American left is only now just catching up:

Trafalgar is full of lessons. When my wife and I visited London last September, we took our young son, a fervent admirer of Nelson, to Trafalgar Square to see Nelson’s column. We were surprised to see that it had company. On one of the plinths behind the famous memorial sat a huge sculpture of white marble. This, I knew, was one of the benefactions that Ken Livingstone, the Communist mayor of London, had bestowed on his grateful constituency: public art on Trafalgar Square that was more in keeping with cool Britannia’s new image than statues of warriors. From a distance, the white blob looked liked a gigantic marshmallow in need of an air pump. But on closer inspection, it turned out to be a sculpture of an armless and mostly legless woman, with swollen breasts and distended belly. In fact, it was a sculpture by Marc Quinn of one Alison Lapper, made when she was eight months pregnant. Ms. Lapper, who was born with those horrible handicaps, is herself an artist. Asked how she felt about the sculpture, Ms. Lapper said that she was glad that at last Trafalgar Square recognized someone who was not a white male murderer. It is worth noting, as one journalist pointed out, that the architects of Trafalgar Square were ahead of their time in at least one sense, for the sculpture of Ms. Lapper represented the second commemoration of a seriously disabled person. After all, there is Nelson on his column, missing his right arm and an eye.

According to the Boston Globe last week, “Sculptor Arturo Di Modica installed the bull without permits one night near the New York Stock Exchange as a tribute to the country’s recovery from the 1987 stock market crash, the Times reported. It was moved to its current location a few days later.”

As with the last decade’s “improvements” to Trafalgar, courtesy of London’s then-Mayor “Red” Ken Livingstone, I assume this latest ode to grrrl power will be up for quite some time as well, both to the delight of CNN, amazed that an inert bronze statue can remain upright when snow falls on it, to Trump supporters who have placed red MAGA hats on it – to those who have performed rather cruder gestures involving the statue.


4. The mechanism for this homogenization is not obvious. Unlike the Catholic Church, the Cathedral has no pope (although I read recently that Warren Buffet owns 71 newspapers, and the New York Times is owned in part by Carlos Slim, whose vast fortune has a lot to do with his special relationship with the Mexican government). One factor is that the credibility of a set of information sources depends on their being able to agree on a story (coordination games, the peloton effect, the parliament of clocks). Another factor is self-dealing: people with high verbal skills tend to support a system of government that is controlled by people with high verbal skills, and once they control it, they tend to want it to be unlimited in scope. Another factor is self-selection: once an institution becomes dominated by members of a political movement, it tends to become unpleasant and career-limiting for anyone else to work there. Another factor is that the easiest way to write a newspaper story is to copy it from a politician’s press handout. To a considerable extent, these institutions are deliberately manipulated by politicians (broadcast licensing, educational and research funding, journalistic access, selective leaking of secrets, etc., aka Gleichschaltung; in many cases, journalists are literally married to political operatives or are involved in “revolving door” relationships with the political institutions they write about, such as Jeff Immelt of GE, MSNBC and the Obama administration). But the two biggest factors are probably that (1) intellectuals are seduced by political power (the Boromir effect), and (2) these institutions are quasi-religious, and have taken on the peculiar characteristics of the dominant quasi-religion of the day.

5. Three things make an intellectual movement quasi-religious: (1) the outputs that they produce are credence goods, (2) they provide a framework for competition for social status, and (3) this basis is insecure. The fact that credence goods are involved means that conflict about them will tend to be irrational. The fact that social status is involved, and that the basis for social status is insecure, means that this conflict will be relatively vicious, and will carry a strong odor of a witch hunt.

6. The Cathedral is powerful partly because its relative homogeneity allows it to serve as a gatekeeper of politically relevant mass-market information and interpretation. But its real power comes from control of what ideas are associated with high status. Everyone thinks, “I’m my own man. I think for myself.” But unconsciously, people tend to copy the opinions of people who are one step above them on the social ladder. This was explained in the Cerulean Top scene in The Devil Wears Prada.

Read the whole thing; and don’t miss the clip of that aforementioned “Cerulean Top” scene from The Devil Wears Prada, a nifty variation on the line Claude Rains’ sly ambassador character tells Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia: “If we’ve been telling lies, you’ve been telling half-lies. A man who tells lies, like me, merely hides the truth. But a man who tells half-lies has forgotten where he put it.”

FORMER POLITICO EDITOR: Matt Drudge Changed It All.

The media’s angst over its role in “post-truth America” is expanding as President-elect Trump takes shots at the news business and even U.S. intelligence agencies.

The latest example is a lengthy essay by the former editor of Politico for the Brookings Institution that suggests the control of news by mainstream gatekeepers ended when Matt Drudge and his “Drudge Report” broke the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky sex affair.

It’s funny to hear members of the press, which covered up affairs by JFK, LBJ, Bill Clinton — and, more recently, John Edwards — because it wanted to help Democrats win, suddenly going on about “post-truth America” now that it’s no longer able to do that sort of thing.

TRUMP RELEASES A YOUTUBE VIDEO outlining his plans for his first 100 days. Bypassing the media gatekeepers with YouTube. (Bumped).

A TRAIN WRECK WORSE THAN OBAMACARE? The Spectacular Institutional Failure Of The Democratic Party.

Writers and analysts, those of us at TAI very much included, have spent the last several months writing about what seemed like the spectacular institutional failure of the Republican Party, which allowed its presidential nomination to be seized by someone whom its elites considered thoroughly unqualified for the highest office in the land. Party institutions were once strong enough to influence the outcomes of their nomination processes—to serve as gatekeepers and ideological enforcers. But the Republican Party apparatus was weak, distrusted, and vulnerable to a populist takeover. The institutional Democratic Party, meanwhile, was able to capitalize on its organizational and financial reach to clear the field, control its primary, and guide voters toward the ultra-establishment choice.

But insofar as you consider the election of Donald Trump a great failure on the part of the nation’s political elite, last night’s electoral earthquake highlights the fact that the Republican Party is not the only institution that was negligent. In a well-functioning democracy, when one party offers the nation a candidate with the highest disapproval ratings in modern history, the opposition party would put forward a candidate who can defeat him. And on this front, the Democrats failed almost methodically. . . .

Donald Trump won the Republican nomination because the GOP elite’s control over their party was weak. But he won the presidency because the Democratic elite’s control over their party was strong—strong enough that Hillary Clinton could feel confident going on a Wall Street speaking tour in the run-up to her campaign, strong enough to shield her from real scrutiny in the primaries, strong enough to keep to keep Joe Biden out of the race.

The election of Donald Trump can only happen in a country where many institutions are deeply, deeply broken. This is the culmination of a cascade of failures across broad swathes of the elite. The question now is whether the Age of Trump will mark the beginning of reform and renewal, or merely an acceleration of a long decline.

Our elites aren’t elite, but they are elitist. That’s the problem.

MICHELLE MALKIN: Obama Lied. My Third Health Plan Just Died.

Like an estimated 22 million other Americans, I am a self-employed small-business owner who buys health insurance for my family directly on the individual market (as opposed to group insurance through a company or third party). Our most recent plan features a $6,000 deductible with a $1,000 monthly premium. It’s nosebleed expensive, but provides us access to specialists not curtailed by bureaucratic gatekeepers. This has been important for us because several members of my family have required specialized care for chronic illnesses.

Once again, however, I’ll soon be talking about our plan in the past tense. Choices for families like mine have evaporated in the era of Obamacare. In Colorado, UnitedHealthCare and Humana will cease selling individual plans next year. Rocky Mountain Health Plans is pulling out of the individual market in all but one county. Nearly 100,000 of my fellow Coloradans will be forced to find new insurance alternatives as open enrollment approaches on Nov. 1, according to the Denver Business Journal. As Anthem abandons PPOs, the cost of remaining individual market plans will soar an average of 20 percent.

That means it’s working.

ROSS DOUTHAT: Will We See A Trumpism Of The Left?

Some kind of celebrity (ahem, Oprah, ahem) might be able to win the Democratic nomination under present circumstances. But they would need to be respectable rather than disreputable, and run a campaign that accepted guardrails and gatekeepers rather than gleefully destroying them. The wrecking-ball left-wing analogues to Trump that pundits have imaginatively toyed with — an Oliver Stone, a Sean Penn — wouldn’t stand a chance.

But what’s true today might not be true forever. The differences between the Democratic Party’s younger, poorer, browner base and its older, whiter, richer and more moderate leadership are a potentially unstable equilibrium. The anger coursing through left-wing protest politics could find a cruder, more nakedly demagogic avatar than Bernie Sanders. A Hillary Clinton administration could supply various betrayals and compromises or foul up in some disastrous way, encouraging a sense that the professional class that dominates liberalism’s upper reaches needs to give way to a revived (and larger) version of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition — a “real American future” analogue to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” appeals.

If Trump has thrived by imitating Europe’s right-wing nationalists, a Trumpism of the left would imitate the left-wing populists of Latin America and Asia — the Chavismo of Alicia Machado’s native Venezuela, or the Trumpian socialism presently being served up by the ranting, trigger-happy president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte.

This may sound implausible, indeed frankly un-American — but so did the ascent of Trump’s National Front-ish politics, and yet here we are. Cultural and demographic change can ripple into politics slowly, and then all at once. The elite checks on a gonzo left-wing populism are real and powerful, but so are the cultural forces roiling underneath. And the same demographic changes that have made the right more nativist and populist, more European and reactionary, could expose the left to a Latin American temptation if liberal governance ever really hits the rocks.

If and when it does, the Hillary Clinton campaign’s skillful deployment of Alicia Machado may be cast in a somewhat different light. It’s Clinton’s Democratic Party today — managerial, technocratic, polished, a little smug. But Machado’s wilder, messier, “I’m not a saint girl” style might have its own claim on the American left’s future, if the technocrats and managers ever let her kind of Democratic voter down.

And they will.


As I understand your use of this term, “the media” is essentially shorthand for anything you read, saw or heard today that you disagreed with or didn’t like. At any given moment, “the media” is biased against your candidate, your issue, your very way of life.

But, you know, the media isn’t really doing that. Some article, some news report, some guy spouting off on a CNN panel or at might be. But none of those things singularly are really the media.

Fact is, there really is no such thing as “the media.” It’s an invention, a tool, an all-purpose smear by people who can’t be bothered to make distinctions.

“Dear readers: Please stop calling us ‘the media.’ There is no such thing,” Paul Farhi, the Washington Post, Friday.

Thousands of conservatives and even some moderates have complained during my more than three-year term that The Post is too liberal; many have stopped subscribing, including more than 900 in the past four weeks.

It pains me to see lost subscribers and revenue, especially when newspapers are shrinking. Conservative complaints can be wrong: The mainstream media were not to blame for John McCain’s loss; Barack Obama’s more effective campaign and the financial crisis were.

But some of the conservatives’ complaints about a liberal tilt are valid. Journalism naturally draws liberals; we like to change the world. I’ll bet that most Post journalists voted for Obama. I did. There are centrists at The Post as well. But the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don’t even want to be quoted by name in a memo.

—The late Deborah Howell, then the Post’s ombudswoman (a job the Post has since eliminated), November 16, 2008.

‘Yeah, I’m In The Media. Screw You.’

—Button worn by the late Ginny Carroll to the 1992 Republican convention. Carroll was a bureau chief for Newsweek, then owned by the Washington Post.

Incidentally, this isn’t the first time that Farhi has tried to play these semantic games: As Tim Graham of NewsBusters paraphrased a similar Farhi column in 2012, “WashPost Writes The Public Be Damned: They’re Biased If They Think We’re Biased.”

Perhaps Iowahawk has the best response to Farhi’s latest column, and its smug headline, “Dear readers: Please stop calling us ‘the media.’ There is no such thing.” “Okay, how about we just call you assholes,” he tweeted yesterday.

Or Democrat operatives with bylines. Often the two phrases are quite interchangeable. (Unexpectedly.)

All of which is why, as  Kurt Schlichter writes, “We’re Laughing at the Self-Destruction of the Media Gatekeepers.”

STUCK IN THE 20TH CENTURY: Hillary Clinton Never Learns That the World Sees Every Stumble.

To state the obvious: Obviously Hillary Clinton’s health matters, and the public has a right to know whether she has the physical stamina to be president. Obviously Sunday’s events are a real story, not only because of what happened, but because the Clinton team lied about it. If it didn’t matter, why did they lie, and hide it from her press pool?

Perhaps less obvious, but also true: this whole cycle was straight out of the playbook that worked for Bill Clinton for many years. Hide, deny, lie, and when that lie breaks down, spin another while surrogates and supporters attack. That playbook lost its mojo on Jan. 19, 1998, when the Drudge Report broke the story of Monica Lewinsky’s presidential trysts. It has been steadily getting less effective since that day. Unfortunately, the only person who doesn’t seem to realize that is Hillary Clinton.

I will hardly be the first to observe that all of us, and especially famous people, now live in a digital panopticon, where at any moment our actions may be observed, videotaped, and uploaded to the internet. Nor that the web has democratized publishing, creating what law professor Glenn Reynolds has dubbed “an Army of Davids” willing and able to attack the powerful. Nor that the amazing proliferation of data and records on the web has given those Davids an array of weapons far more powerful than a slingshot. Why has the news not yet reached Hillary Clinton?

If you collapse in public, and you are famous, the odds that this event has not been captured on someone’s cell phone are starting to approach zero. And the odds that this video will be seen by virtually every American are starting to approach 100 percent because there are no longer any gatekeepers to bully. Trying to control stories like the old Clinton spin machine did is like trying to fight World War II with tactical maneuvers that worked for Caesar’s legions.

Yep. But Hillary’s grasp of technology — except, apparently, for BleachBit — is notoriously poor.


In recent years the family has had to impose a new rule for mealtime talk: If one of us thinks we’ve heard a particular story or argument at least five times before, we get to raise our hand as a signal to stop. The rule was created for one reason: to manage my father’s enthusiasm for the topic of his new book, “The Kingdom of Speech.”

Whenever I’ve gotten together with my parents and brother over the past decade, my father, who is now 86, usually manages to turn the conversation to the research he has been doing on language—where it came from and how it makes us distinctive. Charles Darwin held that the human brain and language evolved together, but my father thinks that speech is an entirely separate phenomenon, unrelated to our physical development.

And unlike the linguist Noam Chomsky, against whom my father also contends in the book, he doesn’t think that language is an innate part of our makeup. He sees it instead as our greatest invention—the code that has made possible all of our other inventions, from the spear to the internet.

“The heart of my thinking is that language is man-made,” he tells me. “It’s not a result of evolution, and it is only language that enables human beings to control nature.”

When I share these ideas with others, they often give me a look that says, “Is he crazy?” and then ask, “Is he a creationist?” He’s neither of those things, but he does like to make trouble, especially by poking fun at cultural gatekeepers. His targets over the years have included liberal political posturing (“Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers”), pretentious modern art (“The Painted Word”) and harsh modern architecture (“From Bauhaus to Our House”).

Related: “Tom Wolfe Hunts the Biggest of Prey in The Kingdom of Speech,” my review of Wolfe’s new book.

POINTING THE FINGER WHERE IT SHOULD BE: Prejudice among Gatekeepers.

TO BE FAIR, IT’S VOX WE’RE TALKING ABOUT HERE: Pokemon Go Reveals Everything Wrong With Conventional Wonk Thinking.

Because mainstream policy thinkers lack creative ideas for reinvigorating the American economy and helping the middle class, they issue familiar calls for more wealth redistribution and stimulus. We’re not necessarily opposed to a more progressive tax code or demand-boosting policies like infrastructure spending, but neither looks to us like a serious fix for deep structural problems.

A great deal of policy proposals today are rooted in a sense of resignation: capitalism naturally causes inequality, so the best we can do is have the government take more and more from the rich and give more and more to the poor.

That approach bespeaks a lack of imagination and historical awareness. Time and again, doomsayers have bewailed free market; time and again, their fears have proven to be greatly exaggerated. In the late nineteenth century, as the United States transitioned from agriculture to heavy industry, new technologies were making farm hands obsolete and rapid urbanization was creating social disorder and depleting rural communities. But no worried mother in 1890 could imagine that her young children would grow up to become mechanics or telephone operators. Those jobs didn’t exist because automobiles and sophisticated landline infrastructure didn’t exist. In any age, it’s difficult and often impossible to know what the jobs and industries of the future will be.

Instead of simply redistributing wealth and doubling down on short-term stimulus policies, we should be looking at ways to make it easier for people to start businesses and move jobs. Relaxing licensing requirements and confronting the gatekeepers who lobby for them so that more people can compete for jobs in traditionally-protected industries would be a good place to begin. So would faster implementation of portable pension plans. In addition to reforming housing policies in urban centers, we ought to think about how telework can allow more people who don’t live in San Francisco to make money off of the tech boom.

Rather than resigning ourselves to managing “late stage capitalism”, we should be creating a regulatory and commercial framework that can support an information economy. The jobs of the future may be unknowable, but that shouldn’t stop us from imagining and starting to build a country in which they are more likely to be created.

Then again, if all our creative energies are directed toward debating the merits of catching virtual Pikachus instead of toward building a new economic model, humanity may indeed be doomed.

The thing is, redistribution of wealth provides superb opportunities for graft. But it’s fair to assume that any author using the phrase “late stage capitalism” unironically has nothing useful to contribute.

AGE OF MISINFORMATION: Meet Your New Media Overlords.

The standard history of the media revolution goes something like this: At midcentury, the national media landscape was monopolized by three major television networks and two major magazines. A handful of centrist media executives has tremendous power over the flow of information; it took effort to access news and commentary too far to either side of the political spectrum. Then came cable, which put pressure on the old monopolies and facilitated the rise of some insurgent political outlets. In the 1990s, thanks to the creation of the internet and the rise of blogging, subversive political materials became easier to access, and legacy media gatekeepers lost still more control over what stories were newsworthy and what opinions were acceptable. Finally, social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook completed the democratization of media—giving ordinary people a platform, disrupting the press establishment, and transferring power for regulating the flow of information from media elites to the masses.

But has it really worked out that way? A new report from Gizmodo alleges that Facebook’s “trending” function (a list of popular news items featured prominently on hundreds of millions of users’ home pages) is not generated by an impartial algorithm, but by a handful of young Facebook employees—and, moreover, that those employees systematically manipulated the results to exclude right-leaning news. . . .

Facebook is sure to take issue with the story (it declined to comment for Gizmodo). But even if certain details are credibly called into question, the report highlights the tremendous power that internet and social media companies have achieved over the distribution of information—more than the television networks of yore could have ever dreamed of—and the ways they could tilt public opinion if they chose to do so. It may be that instead of dethroning the information gatekeepers, new media has simply transferred power from middle-aged WASPs in stuffy New York City network newsrooms to a more diverse, and younger, set of elites in posh Silicon Valley open offices. These new elites have their own set of interests and priorities—for the most part, socially liberal and meritocratic, rather than centrist and institutionalist. But they are not, by any means, “impartial,” or equally open to all viewpoints.

Still, the competitive forces that once empowered the new media overlords will also probably constrain them. After all, this story was broken a news outlet that itself couldn’t have existed before the information revolution. It has over a million views, and seems likely to force Facebook to issue some sort of response. And if this type of story keeps surfacing, and a critical mass of people start doubting the integrity of social platforms, entrepreneurs can raise funds and build competitor platforms. But many of Silicon Valley’s giants at this juncture are probably too entrenched for this too happen too quickly.

Should we expect antitrust and consumer-fraud investigations (since Facebook apparently lied about its activity) from Republican state attorneys general?

Related: Could Facebook Swing An Election?


The intensity with which some American companies try to use the government to trick or deceive consumers is astonishing, yet the extent to which lawmakers seem content to cater to these crony pursuits never disappoints, either.

Case in point: the current attempt to protect contact lens sellers from competition at the expense of consumers.

An estimated 40 million Americans wear contact lenses. That’s a $4 billion industry.

Thanks to the heavy-handed government regulation of all things health care, contacts already cost more than they should. However, if an ongoing effort to reduce competition through government cronyism were to succeed, costs might soon rise even more.

What makes the contact lens market unique — and also leaves it extra vulnerable to crony intervention — is the fact that customers are required by federal law to obtain a prescription from a licensed optometrist in order to purchase lenses.

It is a rare instance where prescribers are also sellers, which leads to a cozy relationship between manufacturers and the doctors who can steer patients toward their brand.

Prescriptions are brand-specific, which makes it difficult for consumers to shop around. Choosing a different brand would require paying for another exam in order to obtain a new prescription.

The simplest solution would be to do away with the gatekeepers altogether and allow the purchase of contact lenses without a prescription.

It works just fine that way in Europe and Japan, but manufacturers and doctors nevertheless protect their legal mandate through lobbying by citing health concerns, even as the same manufacturers happily sell to overseas markets without the same requirements.

Culture of corruption.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: College Admissions Debates Miss the Mark.

It’s elite college admissions season, which means that it’s also the season for elite media handwringing about how stressful it for high school students to compete for the vanishingly small number of spots available in the Ivy League. These concerns are understandable, of course—any young person who has recently gone through this process, or any parent who has watched—knows that it can be agonizing and arbitrary. But most elite commentary on the subject—which imagines that the best way to slow down the rat race is for admissions offices to de-emphasize academic achievement and instead emphasize character traits like kindness and generosity—misses the mark by a rather wide margin. . . .

The report, which goes on to make the case for a more ‘holistic’ admissions system, is clearly well-intentioned. But there is very little reason to think that its proposed solution—once again, entrusting elite admissions officers (the same admissions officers who wrote the report) to make detailed judgments about students’ degree of selflessness and empathy—will do much to ameliorate the worst parts of the system. After all, the number of slots at Harvard would stay the same; the only thing that would change is the rules of the competition. And anyone who has interacted with upper-middle class America knows that changing the rules for getting into an Ivy won’t make anxious students and parents compete any less intensively. . . .

Part of this change would need to be cultural: elites, and the institutions they run, would need to put less weight on fancy degrees. But there are also policy steps that could help encourage this shift. For example, a standardized or semi-standardized testing regime for college seniors would help ambitious graduates of the Nebraska state system, for example, compete on equal footing with Yalies.

Another, complementary reform: The elite schools that students are climbing over each other to get into should be making efforts, as WRM has written, “to clone themselves,” either by admitting more students, expanding online offerings, or setting up satellite campuses. There is no reason why the quality of education offered by Stanford or Princeton should not be scalable, and yet the number of slots at most of these institutions has held steady for decades, despite the extraordinary resources they have at their disposal.

The horribleness of the Ivy League admissions for 17-year olds is just one small symptom of a higher education landscape that is distorted all around. To fix it, we will need to come up with more creative and ambitious solutions than simply asking colleges to put more emphasis on this or that character trait as they cull 95 out of 100 students from the pile. And those solutions won’t always be the same as the ones preferred by the gatekeepers themselves.

The best thing that could happen would be for elite college degrees to matter less.

AS THE DAVID BROOKS CROWD CLUCKS “HAVE YOU NO DECENCY?” HERE’S A USEFUL REMINDER: The Culture That Created Donald Trump Was Liberal, Not Conservative.

The man didn’t emerge, all at once and fully formed, from some hidden and benighted hollow in the American psyche. He’s been kicking around for 30 years or more, and he was promoted and schooled, made famous and made wealthy, by the same culture and economy that now reviles him, and finds his success so vexing.

After all, it wasn’t some Klan newsletter that first brought Trump to our attention: It was Time and Esquire and Spy. The Westboro Baptist Church didn’t give him his own TV show: NBC did. And his boasts and lies weren’t posted on Breitbart, they were published by Random House. He was created by people who learned from Andy Warhol, not Jerry Falwell, who knew him from galas at the Met, not fundraisers at Karl Rove’s house, and his original audience was presented to him by Condé Nast, not Guns & Ammo. He owes his celebrity, his money, his arrogance, and his skill at drawing attention to those coastal cultural gatekeepers — presumably mostly liberal — who first elevated him out of general obscurity, making him famous and rewarding him (and, not at all incidentally, themselves). . . .

If you think that sounds stupid and smug, imagine how it sounds to people out in the rest of the country. Liberals were sure the devil would come slouching out of Alabama or Texas, beating a bible and shouting about sodomy and sin. They didn’t expect him to be a businessman who lives on Fifth Avenue and 57th Street. Rick Santorum was a threat, but your run-of-the-mill New York tycoon just couldn’t be, not in the same way — because even if the latter was unlikable, he was known, he was covered, he fell within a spectrum that the morning shows and entertainment press are comfortable with, much more so, anyway, than they are with what the slow learners among liberals still blithely call “rednecks.”

Want political leaders with the decorum of yesteryear? You’ll need a society with the decorum of yesteryear.

I’VE TOLD YOU WITHOUT A UNIFIED NEWS/ENTERTAINMENT/ARTISTIC COMPLEX THEY CAN’T CONTROL THE NARRATIVE:  Their “beliefs” are so fraught with self-evident contradictions only total control will sell them. The day circumventing the gatekeepers became possible is the day they lost.  They know that.  That’s why they’re fighting so hard to control corners of the entertainment complex like gaming and science fiction for just a little longer.  But they’re at best dead man persons creatures of self-proclaimed sentience walking.  This is just the first major sign of it.  There will be more. How Bill Quickly Went from Asset to Liability for Hillary’s Campaign.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE EACH PERSON: The case of Uber vs. San Antonio.

We are at a very interesting historical tipping point. The willingness of states and political agencies to boss people and businesses around and to seize resources for the use of the political class has not abated, but their ability to do so is being challenged. San Antonio is a left-leaning city; its attitude toward business is far from Singaporean. The city authorities would love to be able to dictate terms to Uber — but they can’t. Nationally, we’re starting to figure out that you can’t really regulate marijuana; you can try to, and pretend to, but you can’t really do it. Trying to ban guns in an age when anybody with a 3-D printer can produce a dozen of them in his bedroom is absurd. In twenty years, when anybody with enough money to buy something equivalent in cost to a refrigerator today is going to be able to 3-D print tissue and molecules, the regulatory enterprise is going to be very dicey indeed. It’s not going to be much fun to be the tax man when real financial privacy, enabled by cryptocurrencies and other financial technologies, is available to almost everybody.

Yeah, the gatekeepers in my field are still under the illusion screaming and thrashing around will make them vital again.  They are wrong.  They’ll find that out. And that article is a great analysis of the power and economic reasons that the boot has changed feet.  Read the whole thing.


Even though “Modern journalism is all about deciding which facts the public shouldn’t know because they might reflect badly on Democrats,” as Jim Treacher tweeted last year, from time to time news that’s inconvenient to the left escapes out into the open, and that makes the gatekeepers in the MSM rather angry.

11 years ago, the late Tony Blankley quipped, “Mark the calendar. August 2004 is the first time that the major mainline media — CBSNBCABCNEWYORKTIMESWASHINGTONPOST L.A.TIMESNEWSWEEKTIMEMAGAZINE ASSOCIATEDPRESSETC. — ignored a news story that nonetheless became known by two-thirds of the country within two weeks of it being mentioned by the ‘marginal’ press.”

And the DNC-MSM have been pounding their high chairs over the Swift Vets ever since. That cycle would be repeated time and time again in the years since. The “keep rockin’” LA Times attempting to prop up John Edwards’ campaign by embargoing details of his affair with Rielle Hunter. Followed in short succession by Obama and the MSM’s “Wright-Free Zone.” Van Jones’ myriad controversies ignored until the MSM suddenly had to report on why he was tossed under the wheels of the Obama bus, ACORN, ClimateGate, Gosnell, and now Planned Parenthood.

But if old media wants to get up to speed on this issue, perhaps they should take Mollie Hemingway of the Federalist’s advice and Watch The Video Planned Parenthood And Its Media Allies Deny Exists.”

CHANGE: Nearly half of all e-book sales dollars now going to self-published authors.

From an author-earnings perspective, in 18 short months, the US ebook market has flipped upside down.

But change in publishing isn’t limited to the ebook market.

Last month, a self-published indie PRINT children’s book — a trade paperback — was one of the Top five print bestsellers in the US for over two weeks, selling over 29,000 print copies in its first week and hitting #6 on USA Today’s combined Best Seller List. (An oddly-timed rule change that same week by the New York Times Best Seller List kept it from appearing on the NYT List.)

But the exciting news for indie print books doesn’t end there. Walmart will very shortly be carrying a self-published book on its store shelves: Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Redemption.

Both pieces of news disprove the outdated notion that a traditional publishing contract is necessary if an author wants to achieve chart-topping PRINT sales, or to see their print book sold on Walmart shelves.

Old print distribution barriers are starting to crumble, just as they already have for digital.

We can’t help but wonder what the next 18 months will bring.

Bad news for the gatekeepers, I guess. Who could have seen this coming?


DIRECTOR BLUE, DONALD TRUMP, SAD PUPPIES AND NICHE MARKETS: “Donald Trump is horrifying the media, the GOP elites and those who have been the gatekeepers…It reminds them that in the end we are a niche market, [and] Donald Trump is beyond our niche:”

Final thought, there was a study quoted at Ace of Spades & Hotair that downplayed Donald Trump’s social media power noting that only 39.4% of Trump’s Twitter followers are currently eligible to vote as opposed to say Jeb Bush with 85.5%

Just remember 85.5% of Jeb Bush’s followers is 244,530, 39.4% of Trump’s followers is 1,477,500 that’s six times more.

Read the whole thing.

WEIRDLY, FEMINISTS ARE UNHAPPY: GOP senators call for over-the-counter birth control. “Groups like Planned Parenthood have opposed the idea, which they argue could drive up contraception prices. The group has pointed to ObamaCare’s contraception mandate — requiring insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved forms of birth control — and said that insurers may no longer cover the medication if it’s not prescribed by a doctor. Dr. Mark DeFrancesco, president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, released a statement condemning Gardner’s bill shortly after he introduced it.”

Actually they’re unhappy because it threatens their gatekeeper status.


In terms of the gatekeepers to these elite jobs, these are just people who are on the ground who are responsible for deciding who is in and who is out, who gains access to professional jobs in management consulting, investment banking, etc. The decisions they make have huge consequences for students, in terms of not only their immediate post-graduate opportunities, the salaries they make, but also opportunities for future and career growth and development.

Commonalities of all of these individuals: They tend to be a very elite group, they tend to come from a fairly prestigious set of institutions, and they tend to come from some of the most highly educated and affluent backgrounds as well. This is pretty standard across the industries. . . .

I think if you were to ask someone at first glance, they would say “oh anyone can work at my firm” and they could probably point to one or two people who didn’t attend elite schools. But if you look at how these firms’ recruiting processes actually work in practice now, the chances of getting into one of these firms from what’s called a non-targeted school is extremely low. And this is because these firms starting around the 1980s shifted from a hiring system in which people were hired in a one-off fashion through informal networks to really really focusing on on-campus recruitment where firms hire directly out of the graduating classes and oftentimes earlier from elite universities.

They talk about equality and diversity, then they hire people who look just like them.

DON’T LIKE NEWS? Crowdsource your own. Ezra Levant is the Andrew Breitbart of Canada. “All of this should scare the heck out of the mainstream media, in any country. Here in America, we are seeing the dinosaur media with record low viewership, while alternative online news sources are thriving. No longer do people have to rely on the traditional gatekeepers of media. And as The Rebel in Canada is showing, people will help pay for quality, accurate journalism. This is a fantastic thing that should, and will, be replicated, a lot.”

JIM GERAGHTY: The American Dream Peddlers: Progressives’ vision of government requires it to be the gatekeeper to the good life.

Is it really in the country’s best interest to enable every aspiring college student to attend college? Right now the federal government is in the business of loaning money to young people to attend college, only to watch significant numbers — 600,000 or so last year — fail to pay the money back. College students are defaulting on federal loans at the highest rate in nearly two decades, with one in ten defaulting on their loans in the first two years. This is not merely one late check; to meet the Department of Education’s definition of default, a borrower’s loan must be delinquent for 270 days — nine months.

The college gets its money, the taxpayer loses theirs, and the deadbeat student can be left with all kinds of frustrating consequences — seized tax refunds, garnished paychecks or benefits, or a lawsuit. (Though the deadbeat student is often in this situation because their college education failed to prepare them to find a job in a mediocre-at-best economy and make a living, so there may not be much money in their wages to garnish.)

How many of those students really should go to college? If college is supposed to represent some sort of advanced or more demanding level of education, why has it become a national priority to send every kid to college? Wouldn’t the nation be better off if at some point it said to these young people, “you can go to college if you want, but we’re not paying for it”?


THE ATLANTIC: The Culture of Shut Up: Too many debates about important issues degenerate into manufactured and misplaced outrage—and it’s chilling free speech. Ya think?

We have unlocked the gates and we are removing the gatekeepers. We aren’t beholden to the views of the three green elders in the village. (See, I tied it back.) But what happens next—how we face the downside of so much connectedness—will determine whether or not this revolution empowers us, or once again empowers those gatekeepers. And I don’t want that to happen, because those gatekeepers suck. They’re arrogant and easily swayed by big, nice-sounding dangerous ideas; they’re ambitious and careerist and forgetful and unimaginative and shortsighted; they’re subject to groupthink, beholden to corporate interests, and enamored of fame and power.

I don’t want those voices to drown out the diverse and compelling voices that now have a better chance of making it in front of us than ever before—even as we still have a ways to go. And what I think we have to do, then, to protect this new wonderful thing of ‘a good idea can come from anyone anywhere’—is we need to stop telling each other to shut up. We need to get comfortable with the reality that no one is going to shut up. You aren’t going to shut up. I’m not going to shut up. The idiots aren’t going to shut up.

We need to learn to live with the noise and tolerate the noise even when the noise is stupid, even when the noise is offensive, even when the noise is at times dangerous. Because no matter how noble the intent, it’s a demand for conformity that encourages people on all sides of a debate to police each other instead of argue and convince each other. And, ultimately, the cycle of attack and apology, of disagreement and boycott, will leave us with fewer and fewer people talking more and more about less and less.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s basically the plan.

LIFE AS A SELF-PUBLISHING FAILURE. Getting rid of the gatekeepers just opens the gate. It doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get through.

BOOK PUBLISHERS, ARE YOU LISTENING: Newsweek Took Its Audience for Granted.

“It’s rather a case of institutions thinking that their gatekeeper status was a commercial asset to be exploited rather than something that had to be earned day by day.”

YOU CAN’T FIGHT A CULTURE WAR IF YOU AIN’T GOT NO CULTURE: Is what L. Neil Smith used to say.  In the interest of disintermediating the culture gatekeepers and destabilizing the cultural-industrial complex — which makes giving my readers and friends a leg up sound so culturally relevant! — every week I put up a post with links to my commenters’ books and other work.  Here is this week’s post.

THE SECRET SAUCE FOR LAW REVIEW PLACEMENT: The Secret Sauce for Law Review Placement: Letterhead, Citations, and Liberal.

Lots of people are bashing law reviews over this latest incident, but let me offer a few thoughts of my own. First, though Tennessee letterhead is no more than respectable, and though I’m not especially liberal, my stuff has generally placed pretty well: Columbia, Virginia, Penn, USC, Northwestern, etc. Would I have done better if I were at Yale and liberal? Probably, but by no means certainly, as a look at some Yale profs’ publication lists will show. You can’t know much about why you’re rejected, except when stuff like this leaks out, but I can’t say that my stuff does better when it seems leftier.

Second, the good thing about law reviews is that there are a lot of them, and they’re diverse. Just because you got rejected at the Harvard Law School Human Rights Law Journal doesn’t mean you won’t get published somewhere else, and quite possibly better. (I had never even heard of this journal, and I’ve always had a weak spot for obscure law reviews.) There are no gatekeepers in law review publishing like there are in other disciplines where there are only a few top peer-reviewed journals, often peer-reviewed by a small clique that overlaps.

Third, it matters less than ever now that more people probably read law review articles on SSRN than in law reviews anyway. It’s gotten to where I feel that an article is really published when it’s posted on SSRN, with the law review acceptance being mostly for archival purposes. I still advise junior faculty to pursue “better” placements because that still matters to many older law professors, but I think it will matter less and less. And many schools look at SSRN download rank as much as they look at placement now, which is probably better for people who are less traditionally academic-liberal-theoretical in orientation.

I’m not saying that there’s nothing to see here — it’s certainly wrong that a law review might reject an author just because of his/her political history — but the impact of this sort of political misfeasance is much less than it used to be.

My thoughts, anyway.

RAND SIMBERG: Romney Was Right About That Cairo Press Release. “Funny how some people who claim to be Republicans were so quick to attack him for it, though.” Plus, thoughts on hurt feelings and religious hypocrisy. “These aren’t the words of a serious person. They’re the words of a bi-polar kindergarten teacher. And sadly, that seems to be representative of much of the federal government, including those at the Justice Department and in the military who still refuse to admit that the guy who shot up all the soldiers at Fort Hood did it in the name of Allah. We all know that there’s only one religion that can’t be criticized, and we all know why. It is because we are cowards, unwilling to stand up for the principles on which this nation was founded. And because that is a religion which is almost uniquely anti-western, and that also explains a lot about why the Left is in sympathy toward it, and its ‘feelings.'”

UPDATE: Jim Treacher: Listen as our MSM gatekeepers turn the murder of a U.S. ambassador into an opportunity to ask Romney why he’s so mean.

WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? Jim Treacher, that’s who! “It’s just more proof that we don’t need these guys anymore. They’re not our gatekeepers. They’ve proven it over and over: ACORN. Rielle Hunter. Van Jones. Anthony Weiner. They keep trying and failing to cover up stories that don’t suit their agenda. They keep pretending they control the flow of information. They’re determined to prove their own obsolescence. And they’ve got the ratings and circulation numbers to prove it.”

FRANKLY, THE RECORD OF “EXPERT GATEKEEPERS” HASN’T BEEN SO GREAT LATELY: Yet Another Annoying Call For Genetic Expert Gatekeepers.

TIM CARNEY: In which I give in to Obama’s Nixonian demands on what the media should cover.

Related: White House Snub Makes Boston Herald Gleeful. “Talk about handing your opponents a club to beat you with. . . . How foolish of the White House to play that game — and how dumb of the White House to get beaten at it.”

As I have pointed out repeatedly, Obama doesn’t act presidential. Presidents act presidential not because they’re stuffy or out-of-touch, but because experience shows that when you don’t act presidential, it often winds up handing opponents a club to beat you with. Obama might know this if he had had significant experience in national politics before running for President, but he didn’t. His staff, alas, is taking its cues from him, instead of remedying his deficiencies.

PLUMMETING DOWN THE ECONOMIC LADDER: A reader sends this depressing tale:

You occasionally post links to articles about the state of the job market, especially for new college graduates, but perhaps what I’m seeing as I look for work, may be interesting.

I’m in my 50s, with no degree, but have been working in the software industry ( support, software development, program management) since the mid 1980s. I’m working only about 20 hours/week for a mom-and-pop company on the west coast at essentially fry-cook wages.

My employer just cut my hours from 40/week to 20 in January. No benefits, no insurance, no vacation accrual, no sick leave.

I’ve been applying for work in my field and for warehouse work, customer service work, janitorial work, clerical work and mechanical assembly work since September 2010. I’ve had one interview with a contracting firm that went nowhere. I even got a food-handler’s permit this month so I could work in a hamburger joint — more on that, below.

Here’s what I see as I look for employment:

– In my industry, HR departments are the gatekeepers. They feed resumes into HR software that categorizes applicants based on keywords for software applications and experience. If your resume doesn’t contain the magic set of keywords and years of experience, it clearly goes into the bit-bucket. In the past, if I could talk to the manager, I could often show him what I’ve done, offer to work at a reduced rate until I proved myself. But with the HR firewall, there’s no way to do that. And I won’t salt my resume with fictional skills.

– I tried applying for some kind of work at the grocery store where I shop, but all applications are taken online and once again, my resume, rich with IT-type work, clearly doesn’t match some profile.

– I applied in-person at a couple of nationally-known fast-food restaurants close-by. The counter help at one barely spoke English and called the manager to the front to speak with me when I asked about a job. With a heavy Spanish accent, she told me to appy online.

– I applied online to 4 or 5 famous fast-food restaurant chains. I’ve heard nothing, other than the automated response from one that simply indicated “No Openings”

The distortions in our job market come from a few different directions, I think. For one thing, landscaping work, restaurant cooks and wait-staff, construction labor all were frequently done by college students on summer vacation or working their way through school. Now, these are often done by illegal immigrants, putting severe pressure on the low-end of the market.

At the high end, for IT at least, the huge influx of H1B visa workers squeezes folks like me out of the IT/computer market pretty handily. I see IT jobs like QA Tech ( “software tester” ) and telephone support jobs that now require computer science degrees. Unless you’re testing NASA man-rated space software or something for the Large Hadron Collider, this is serious overkill.

As for me, I’m staying afloat by selling the stuff I own that has some kind of value.

When that’s gone, I’ll be looking for the highway overpass that has the best view, I guess.

Regards, [Redacted].

P.S. Don’t use my name if you choose to post/excerpt this. That’d wreck what microscopic chances I might have. Thanks.

So I don’t know what advice to give this guy. Any thoughts from InstaPundit readers? Maybe I should set up an InstaPundit Help-Wanted page or something. . . .

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: For Lila Rose, Planned Parenthood video ‘sting’ is about revolution. “The ultimate goal of this new generation of right-wing muckrakers is the overthrow of the perceived liberal-leaning mainstream media narrative on touchstone political issues such as guns, racism, and abortion. Rose casts her work in light of the civil-rights movement of the 1960s, and her videos are the tinder for peaceful social insurrection.”

Plus this:

The videos are “possibly unfair coverage,” but no more unfair than the preponderance of news coverage directed at, for example, the Natonal Rifle Association in the past, says Mr. Patrick, who has studied how media organizations present conservative viewpoints.

“The classic NRA story from The New York Times or The Washington Post was a reporter would go to an NRA convention of 80,000 people and find some dummy in the parking lot with a coonskin hat and interview him,” he says. In the case of the Live Action videos, Patrick adds, “they might have found the dummy with the coon skin hat” at Planned Parenthood.

Indeed. Though in this case, the dummies worked at the clinics. And Planned Parenthood has the JournoList crowd plotting their media defense. I’m in favor of legal abortion, but this stinks.

UPDATE: Prof. Stephen Clark emails:

Here is an example of a type of action cheered by liberals and the left in the past confident that their oxen would never be gored; perhaps with good reason given the limited numbers of news outlets in the past and the control that a handful of gatekeepers exercised. None of them imagined the open source paradigm for news and commentary, and what that might mean for politics. All I can say to the Planned Parenthoods of the world and their supporters is, “get used to it”. Not even the Journolistas of the world can cover for them now. We’ve moved to an age where the consequences of belief and policy will be documented, publicized, and politicized.

And, of course, inevitably I have to say: They told me if I voted Republican, women would be getting abortions from unlicensed quacks in sleazy back-alley clinics without state oversight. And they were right!

JAMES TARANTO: Leave Kate Zernike Alone: She is a good reporter. The New York Times is a corrupt institution. “How corrupt? So corrupt that the Hulse-Zernike piece was, by the standards of the Times last week, a relatively minor case of journalistic malpractice. Even the editors who assigned it at least have the excuse of having been under deadline pressure at a time when the facts were not yet in about the suspect’s motives. The same cannot be said for the Times editorial board and Paul Krugman, who on Jan. 10, as we noted last Tuesday, were still linking the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to ‘uncivil rhetoric’ from the right, even after the facts had disproved any connection. The Times has made no acknowledgment yet of this gross journalistic wrong.”

Plus this: “The moral degeneration of the New York Times is a study in the corrupting effects of power. Over the years, the men who run the paper came to view the preservation of their authority as agenda-setter or gatekeeper or ‘mediator’ as their primary mission. On Jan. 10, 2011, they made it clear that they are willing to go so far in the pursuit of that goal as to contravene the real purpose of journalism, which is to tell the truth.”

UPDATE: Reader Stephen Clark writes: “Taranto’s justification for calling the Times a corrupt institution could be applied more broadly to include a disagreeably large portion of Codevilla’s Ruling Class. An intuitive recognition of this as fact has no doubt motivated many, if not all, in the Tea Party movement.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Eric Pobirs emails: “What moral degeneration? This is the paper that gave us the Walter Duranty view of the Soviet Union. They arguably have an ocean of blood on their hands but point the finger at conservatives?”

HIGHER EDUCATION: For-Profits Break the Monopoly on What a College Can Be. “The deep value of for-profit education is that it breaks the practical monopoly on what a college can be. The behavior of some of the big for-profits remains a scandal and needs to be corrected. They may be the robber barons of higher education. But the robber barons of times past bequeathed us a national railway system, a functioning oil industry, and the basis for a century of national prosperity. I’d gladly forgive the depredations of the for-profit colleges on the national treasury if their real legacy were to help the United States transition to a genuinely diverse and flexible form of higher education.” And the traditional institutions need competition.

But the empire strikes back where it can: “I recently learned of a case in which a start-up for-profit university offering only narrowly focused masters’ degrees in a highly technical field was advised by the regional accreditor to which it had applied that it really ought to add a provost to its administration in addition to the university president and dean of faculty. Given the importance of accreditation as the gatekeeper for student loans, the for-profit university is complying without a murmur. But on the face of it, this is an increase in administrative overhead mandated not by the practical need of the university but by the accreditor’s sense of how things should be done.”

CHANGE: Book publishers see their role as gatekeepers shrink. Somebody should write a book on this kind of thing. But Neal Stephenson and Greg Bear are following in the footsteps of C.J. Burch. Here’s Burch’s blog report on the process.

PLEASE DON’T FOLLOW THIS ADVICE: “All you need to read is . . . Instapundit, pretty much.”

It’s a nice thing to say, but I make no effort to be comprehensive. As I’ve said more than once, InstaPundit is not a news service. It’s just a collection of things that I find interesting, or under-covered, or otherwise worthy of attention. But even that’s often a reaction against the priorities of big-media gatekeepers, which means that I kinda assume you’re being flooded with their stuff in my process of deciding what to write (or not write) about.

WELL, THAT’S ALL RIGHT THEN:  Dean Chris Edley (now of Berkeley, formerly of Harvard) explains why we shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads about a Harvard-Yale lock on the Supreme Court.  You see, any worries about elitism and a narrow vision of American values have been solved, by affirmative action:

The gatekeeper power of such institutions is why it was so important to desegregate them (using affirmative action, among other tools) and why virtually all leaders of great universities talk about diversity and access.

For about 40 years now, all the top law schools have tried to pick students who are not just brilliant but who have the potential to be outstanding leaders from and for all of America’s communities. Today, “elite” doesn’t carry the old-boy, classist, midcentury sense.

He’s right; it definitely carries more of a new-boy, classist, end-of-century sense of elitism.  Which must be why Dean Edley doesn’t even notice it.

I’VE OFTEN ARGUED that the relationship between blogs and Big Media should be thought of as symbiotic rather than competitive, and here’s some more evidence. Jack Lail, managing editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel, emails that InstaPundit sent them nearly a million pageviews last year, and holds two spots (for and on their list of top 20 referrers. Smart news people — like Lail — are more interested in getting bloggers to deliver traffic than in complaining about blogger competition. And smart news organizations will take advantage of new technology to facilitate their hard-news reporting ability via the “Army of Davids” approach, rather than complaining that people who post breaking-news reports on blogs or Twitter don’t have journalism degrees.

It’s interesting to me that we see far more anger from Old Media folks aimed at bloggers, etc., than at Craigslist, even though Craigslist has done far more economic harm to the newspaper industry than bloggers, who probably add eyeballs rather than (as Craigslist does) subtracting them. My suspicion is that the Old Media folks care more about prestige and position than money, and bloggers have hurt them in the prestige and position department. Of course, caring more about prestige and position than money isn’t a formula for a flourishing business . . . .

Meanwhile, here’s more on how bloggers and Big Media can work together in covering an issue.

UPDATE: Steven Den Beste emails: “Craigslist is stealing revenue, but most reporters and editors don’t worry about revenue. Bloggers are challenging the MSM’s function as gatekeepers of the news, and in particular the MSM’s ability to suppress stories. That DOES directly affect reporters and editors.” Indeed. And that’s not lost on readers.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Thoughts on Craigslist from Ron Coleman.


When Congress adjourns, so do C-Span’s live broadcasts because the sole cameras that record the sessions of the Senate and the House of Representatives are controlled by the members of Congress. On Friday, when several dozen Republicans decided to stay on the House floor and discuss energy legislation after the House adjourned for a five-week summer recess, the cameras and microphones were turned off. So the first source of video was a congressman who streamed live pictures to the Internet using his cellphone camera.

Representative John Culberson, a Texas Republican and an avid user of the messaging site Twitter, acted as a citizen journalist covering the proceedings, albeit one with clear partisan intentions.

“Pelosi just turned out the lights,” Mr. Culberson wrote on Twitter, referring to the decision by the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to adjourn the House. As Republican members came to the floor to make speeches, Mr. Culberson, who called the event a “pep rally,” and Peter Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan, posted frequent updates on Twitter.

Mr. Culberson took it a step further, using his Nokia 95 cellphone to film fellow members speaking about the event.

Can’t stop the signal.

SHIELD LAW: “The Free Flow of Information Act, then, really is an effort to shift control of information from the government to journalists, enhancing the latter’s gatekeeper role at the expense of the former’s.”


Did you know that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare for the video market has moved 3 million copies

That as Amazon shows it runs about $50 a copy – that’ s a ‘box office’ of 150 million.

And it’s about the current war against terror.

:”Armed with an arsenal of advanced and powerful modern-day firepower, players are transported to treacherous hotspots around the globe to take on a rogue enemy group threatening the world. As both a U.S. Marine and British S.A.S. soldier fighting through an unfolding story full of twists and turns, players use sophisticated technology, superior firepower, and coordinated land and air strikes on a battlefield where speed, accuracy, and communication are essential to victory.”

So, if as Hollywood whines that the public doesn’ t want Iraqi War movies, why is this selling so well, top of the rental lists, and ever so popular? At this rate it’ll be the successful game companies, that gives the pubic what they want, who’ll buy out the studios for their IP and name. Hollywood appears to have missed the impact of the technological shift as badly as MSM has. The public is getting the entertainment they crave, just not in the form that the old gatekeepers dispense.

I think that’s right.

UPDATE: My cousin-in-law Stewart Rubenstein emails that Old Media are smart enough to buy in, anyway: “Vivendi has owned Blizzard (Diablo, World of Warcraft, etc) for quite a while, and they just acquired 52% of the new ‘Activision Blizzard’.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Ian Watson emails:

I think your emailer, while correctly pointing out good video game sales, is missing the subject matter point. The problem with comparing the subject matter of CoD4 with these horrid Hollywood movies is that no one goes to Hollywood movies for multiplayer. A vast (I would say nearly everyone) bought CoD4 for the multiplayer aspect of it, in which there are two teams people play on… Marines/SAS v. RandomTerrorists. Even beyond this point, it is the gameplay that sells this series far more than the story line. It is a first person shooter, that means a tactical twitch game. The entertaining and excellent singleplayer was given such high regards because of its challenging AI, excellent level design, and technical perfection. While I’m sure that the game would have suffered if we were terrorists blasting Marines the whole time, it is the technical perfection and the excellent multiplayer that sold this game.

Looking at specific game sales really doesn’t tell you anything, because games rise and fall dependant on a TON of factors other than storyline. Now, if one was to look at the storylines in general for some of the relevant top games, there IS a trend there.

Halo 3 (marine saves humanity… watch the live action shorts they were using to advertise it, lefties were complaining about them being too fascist like)

Splinter Cell series (4 games) … American spy saves the world, constantly.

Call of Duty series (TONS of games, well over 4 counting expansions)… go America all the way

Medal of Honor games…

I could go on, I’ll spare you…

… I’m trying to think of ones that go the other way and are successful… and I can’t.

Yeah, the distinctive feature seems to be the notion of good vs. evil, and without the Hollywood assumption that America is the evil.

OUCH: “Almost immediately after the launch of Fred Thompson’s long anticipated presidential candidacy, important neutral Republicans decreed privately that it had crashed and burned on takeoff. Many of these critics had wanted to board the Thompson campaign but were repelled by his ‘gatekeepers.’ That helps explain their attitude now, and not merely because of bruised feelings caused by their exclusion.” I don’t think he’s crashed and burned, but I agree that the campaign has sometimes seemed curiously isolated.

Ann Althouse, however, isn’t so sure about these criticisms: “It’s possible that he knows what he is doing.”

Meanwhile, Wired says: “It’s official: Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson’s media strategy for his campaign launch was a success. Thompson’s web site was the most visited presidential candidate web site last week, according to Hitwise, a Web site traffic and search trends analysis firm.”

HOLDING DOWN THE NUMBER OF BLACK LAWYERS IN CALIFORNIA? Gail Heriot notes some questions that the California Bar Examiners don’t seem to want to answer.

UPDATE: More thoughts here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Indeed: “Isn’t it time the ABA just gave up, and acknowledged that as a body completely captured by the perceived interests of the profession it’s supposed to be regulating, is in no position to serve as a neutral gatekeeper for law school accreditation?” Though in truth I’m not sure the ABA is that good at protecting the profession’s interests, either. Maybe the ABA staff’s perception of those interests . . . . Maybe.

TARNISHED INDUSTRY SPIKES COLUMN recommending improvements: “Imagine the outrage if this were RJ Reynolds or General Motors getting a column killed on the state of its industry, instead of the L.A. Times.”

As Mickey Kaus observes: “They’re in the business of killing stories these days, not publishing them, apparently.” Good luck with that.

Whole story here.

UPDATE: Steven den Beste emails:

“They’re in the business of killing stories these days, not publishing them.”

That has always been the most important power of gatekeepers. Not in deciding when to open the gate, but in when to close it.

And that’s the reason that the gatekeepers are so upset by the rise of blogs and other alternative media. They still have the ability to open the gate for stories they like, and to try to focus attention on those stories, but they no longer have the ability to close the gate because thousands of bloggers have dug tunnels under the fence.

Heh. Indeed.

MSNBC MISTAKES WHITE HOUSE PARODY PAGE for the real thing. Reality, parody — who can tell? To be fair, I sometimes suffer the same confusion when watching Keith Olbermann.

UPDATE: Ed Driscoll: “Thank God for Big Media’s armada of editors and gatekeepers!”



We can thank the US speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, for having informed Syrian President Bashar Assad, from Beirut, that “the road to solving Lebanon’s problems passes through Damascus.” Now, of course, all we need to do is remind Pelosi that the spirit and letter of successive United Nations Security Council resolutions, as well as Saudi and Egyptian efforts in recent weeks, have been destined to ensure precisely the opposite: that Syria end its meddling in Lebanese affairs.

Pelosi embarked on a fool’s errand to Damascus this week, and among the issues she said she would raise with Assad – when she wasn’t on the Lady Hester Stanhope tour in the capital of imprisoned dissidents Aref Dalila, Michel Kilo, and Anwar Bunni – is “the role of Syria in supporting Hamas and Hizbullah.” What the speaker doesn’t seem to have realized is that if Syria is made an obligatory passage in American efforts to address the Lebanese crisis, then Hizbullah will only gain. Once Assad is re-anointed gatekeeper in Lebanon, he will have no incentive to concede anything, least of all to dilettantes like Pelosi, on an organization that would be Syria’s enforcer in Beirut if it could re-impose its hegemony over its smaller neighbor.

Read the whole thing. Meanwhile, Robert F. Turner thinks that Pelosi’s trip may have been illegal. Turner comments: “The administration isn’t going to want to touch this political hot potato, nor should it become a partisan issue. Maybe special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, whose aggressive prosecution of Lewis Libby establishes his independence from White House influence, should be called back.”

ARS TECHNICA says that some people think that DRM is dying, but that Apple may be DRM’s best friend:

Apple stands to benefit greatly by keeping the FairPlay DRM system up and running. The lock-in afforded by FairPlay creates an Apple ecosystem that essentially ties the iPod to iTunes and to Apple, at least for commercial transactions. Someone has even launched an antitrust suit against Apple over this, though the suit’s specific claims are rather broad.

The symbiotic relationship between iTunes and the iPod has been so profitable for Apple that Microsoft has blatantly ripped it off for its new Zune music player. Apple has managed to create an ecosystem populated with high-margin devices; the company’s overall gross margins are nearly 30 percent, and so even if iTunes were used solely to drive sales of iPods, it would be worth it for Apple to run the store.

Apple has, in an important sense, become a digital gatekeeper for media companies; iTunes is the best way to reach consumers with music, movies, podcasts, and television. Content companies have paid close attention to the success of iTunes; they’ve seen how it saved The Office, pushed billions of dollars in revenue to Disney, and established itself as such a de facto standard on college campuses that students would rather use iTunes than free alternatives. The content companies now need Jobs & Co. as much as Apple needs them.

That’s good for Jobs, but I’m not sure I like it.

CAMPAIGNING ON THE BLOGS: The real story, of course, is another diminution of Old Media’s gatekeeper power.

TIM WU WRITES IN SLATE on why you should care about Net Neutrality:

The Internet is largely meritocratic in its design. If people like better than, that’s where they’ll go. If they like the search engine A9 better than Google, they vote with their clicks. Is it a problem, then, if the gatekeepers of the Internet (in most places, a duopoly of the local phone and cable companies) discriminate between favored and disfavored uses of the Internet? To take a strong example, would it be a problem if AT&T makes it slower and harder to reach Gmail and quicker and easier to reach Yahoo! mail?

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: A contrary view here.

MORE ON THE NEW YORK TIMES STORY ON BLOGS AND PR: The folks at CNN send this highlight from the Reliable Sources transcript:

JEFF JARVIS, BUZZMACHINE.COM: I think “The Times” story was a sucker punch against a few bloggers who didn’t understand how to finesse this stuff. The story it really brought out is the relationship of the press to P.R..

Now, I advise bloggers in my blog that they should always reveal when a story comes from a P.R. agent, that they should reveal information that comes from P.R., and they should reveal any relationship, including lunches, that come from P.R. How many reporters do that? We don’t.

How many stories — we did an audit of a day’s TV news, locally or here on CNN, or your paper or any other paper, and see how many stories actually started with P.R., how much information came from P.R. So what “The Times” was asking the bloggers to do, the press doesn’t do. And that’s a double standard.

And in this age of transparency, I think the real lesson is that the bloggers know how to be transparent, they’ll push. A few didn’t know. OK. Now we’ll teach them how to do it better, and the press has to get better about transparency and its relationship with spin.

On “The New York Times” trying to hold bloggers to a higher standard
EDELMAN: Public relations has always been about telling the side of its client, but we only benefit when we’re telling the truth…”The New York Times” I think did in this story have a double standard.

On the “death of the gatekeepers”
JARVIS: All is fair in love and press…We’re seeing the death of the gatekeepers. The gatekeepers used to be those in power, then it was those in the press, and then — yes, now it’s P.R., who are gatekeepers to the powerful and the rich and the famous.

I did get the sense that the guy doing this story had a couple of axes to grind, involving Wal-Mart and the blogosphere. But the story itself didn’t really seem unfair; it was more the sense that he had somehow gotten hold of a big scoop when, well, he hadn’t.

UPDATE: The full Reliable Sources transcript has now been posted. Don’t miss the bits with John Hinderaker and Dave Barry, either.

STEPHEN SPRUIELL at the National Review Media blog wonders if Bill Roggio’s mistreatment by the Washington Post wasn’t part of a trend:

The theme here, if you haven’t already picked up on it, is that two major papers have used recent news reports about U.S. military information operations to try to discredit a pro-U.S. analyst and a pro-U.S. blogger. Both Rubin and Roggio write from a standpoint that is generally supportive of the U.S. mission in Iraq, and the NY Times and the Washington Post have attempted to portray their writings as untrustworthy and potentially motivated by financial considerations.

I think this has something to do with the fear and contempt some newspaper reporters feel towards online analysts and bloggers who don’t buy into the objective model of journalism and are nevertheless taking a growing share of the news and analysis market. Writers like Rubin and Roggio, who have both traveled to Iraq and used the Internet to report their findings, are challenging the traditional gatekeeper role of papers like the Times and the Post, and some at those institutions don’t like it. As true believers in the old school of objective reporting, they’re seeking to discredit this new school of journalism — which has a clear point of view about its subject matter — as nothing but pro-U.S. propaganda.

But accuracy, fairness and honesty should count for a lot more than “objectivity,” to the extent that the latter is even possible.

I’m glad that the folks at the Times and the Post are “true believers” in objective reporting.

Now if they’d just become true practitioners thereof. . . . But the shabby misrepresentations we’ve seen suggest that they’re not even up to the “accuracy, fairness and honesty” part. Which is why, of course, they’re losing readers to people like Roggio.

UPDATE: Michael Yon is calling for volunteers to do something about this problem:

One year ago, the gap between the ground reports from Iraq from military friends prompted my travel to Iraq to see for myself just what was happening. The dispatches posted to these pages over the ensuing months were an attempt to bridge that gap. Now that I’m back in the United States for a time, trying wring every bit of information of the war out of the news, only to come up dry most days, it’s become clear that in just under a year, the media gap has morphed into a chasm. Before this thing becomes a black hole, it’s time for a few good men and women to put their military experience and expertise to use in an operation that can create an alternative channel that will allow frontline information to break through and be heard.

Read the whole thing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Pentagon isn’t helping, something I’ve noted here before. Here’s an email from a Colonel recently back from Iraq — he’d probably rather I not use his name:

The Department of Defense and the services are not keeping abreast of changing times and are therefore failing the strategic communications mission. By failing to engage “blogs” they are not reaching an outlet that itself has millions of “hits” a year. As you are well aware Blogs have had a tremendous impact on the media mainly due to the unfettered ability to reach out and touch just about everyone. Blogs are quickly gaining more and more credibility and will soon be the source of information, and analysis for millions of Americans and others around the world.

The MSM does not support the war and their reporting is slanted and one sided. Basically 3 TV stations and several newspapers decide what the American people should listen to and read. Why does the White House and DoD continually go back to the same outlets that twist stories to meet their ideological goals.

I think DoD and the services should include bloggers as part of their distribution lists and include them in the regular press conferences and press releases. If this requires issuing credentials then do it. The Bush administration has said that the support of the American people is a strategic center of gravity in winning the war. and I believe the best method today is the use of blogs to meet that end. DoD need to use the best means possible to reach the American people and blogs are it.

I advocated this idea while serving in Iraq, but the people who were in charge of the Strategic Communications did not understand the impact that bloggers have. Or they immediately said we cannot do that, but could not explain why. I agree that the Army does not understand the impact of blogs and they are “blowing it with bloggers,” and they need to analyze the issue further and think forwardly.

It’s a big mistake, and I hope the Pentagon will rethink it.

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt, on a different subject, makes a point that’s relevant here: “We are now in the second of five stages of old media death. First there was denial, and now there is anger.”

WHO NEEDS HOLLYWOOD DISTRIBUTORS? Kamal Aboukhater released his movie Blowing Smoke directly to the Internet on a blog. Check out the trailer at the link and, if it looks interesting, why not order a copy? Help him and other independent filmmakers stick it to Hollywood’s tired gatekeepers by proving we do not need them.

IS THE BLOGOSPHERE ELEVATING THE POLITICAL DEBATE? I just had an interesting conversation with a journalist who’s writing on that question, and who pretty clearly seems to feel that the answer is “no.”

If “elevating the debate” means a sort of good-government, League-of-Women-Voters focus on where candidates stand on health care, etc., that’s mostly true, I suppose. But I think it misconceives what blogs are about. There certainly are bloggers posting on healthcare and other issues — see, for example, Jeff Jarvis’s Issues 2004 posts and this post by Ann Althouse on medical malpractice — but the political blogosphere is to a large degree about media criticism. If the Big Media were talking more about issues, and less — to pick RatherGate as the example which I think inspired this conversation — about Bush’s National Guard service, probably bloggers would be talking about issues more, too.

Of course, what’s striking about RatherGate is the absolutely incredible degree of ineptitude, arrogance, and outright political manipulativeness that it has revealed. In light of that, I can understand why members of the media would rather talk about other things.

But, all blogger triumphalism aside, the media criticism matters. And it matters because Big Media are still the main way that our society learns about what’s happening, and talks about it. A serious breakdown there, which seems undeniably present today, is very important. In many ways, as I’ve said before, it’s more important than how the election turns out.

Meanwhile, I don’t recall much tut-tutting about bloggers focusing on Trent Lott’s racial remarks, instead of his position on national health insurance. Were we elevating the tone then, but not now?

UPDATE: Ann Althouse, on the other hand, points to someone who isn’t elevating the tone. As you might expect, she manages to deflate him, without using improper language. Plus, she comes up with a cool new blog name. [LATER: My linking of Althouse has apparently turned her into one of my “minions.” Minions? It sounds so very Ming the Merciless. “Minions! Sieze him! We’ll see if Professor Leiter can maintain his trademark self-regard after a few months of grading exams in the bluebook mines of Kessel!” Okay, we’re in Frank J. territory, now. . . .]

ANOTHER UPDATE: Interesting Gallup data on public attitudes toward the media in the wake of RatherGate. Apparently, it’s not just bloggers who care.

MORE: Reader Tucker Goodrich has these thoughts on “the issues:”

The issues the blogs have been addressing are issues the press and the Democrats would rather not address, because (in my opinion, and I guess, by their omission, on theirs) they’d lose.

We’re in a war. The character and suitability of the commander-in-chief is a valid issue. A partisan media trying to throw the election by releasing forged documents to throw the character and suitability of the CinC in doubt is an issue. Whether or not the new CinC would prefer to win or lose the war is an ISSUE!

But the Democrats and the press are trying to win the debate by framing those as not “issues”, but as partisan carping. Nice try, but sorry. They are issues, and are every bit as important as healthcare or the economy, if not more so.

They’d simply like to frame a debate where they, the press, define the issues in such a way that they’ll win. The real impact of blogs in this election is that the press can no longer frame the debate to their liking. And this is a huge win for people who don’t agree with how the press tries to frame the debate. And competition in framing the debate can only be good for our democracy and our republic, even if it’s bad for the Democrats and the Republicans.

And the press. As reader Bill Gullette emails: “Where did Rathergate originate? And most certainly even in the most favorable terms, the story was hardly an above the belt effort in terms of what CBS or Rather/Mapes intended the story to achieve.”

Reader Merv Benson adds: “Blogs are the letter to the editor that the editor does not want to print.”

STILL MORE: A positive spin:

All the MSM really needs to do is be the professionals they have falsely claimed to be all these years. A real news organization which was devoted body and soul to getting the truth out, chips fall where they may, would embrace the new world that is growing up around it. . . .

The real story is a happy one. The MSM is on the verge of a new golden age. If it would just learn to do its job, take advantage of these new developments, quit trying to be “gatekeepers” and drop the ideological and partisan shilling, good things would start to happen sooner rather than later.


MORE STILL: Hmm. Compared with Lewis Lapham, who’s charging Bush with “treason,” maybe bloggers are elevating the tone!

FINAL UPDATE: This article on the contributions of blogs is worth reading, too.

OKAY, REALLY FINAL UPDATE THIS TIME: Virginia Postrel has more thoughts, and says that the real issue is that reporters aren’t interested when blogs elevate the debate:

Reporters and media critics are bored, bored, bored by the very sort of discourse they claim to support (a lesson I learned the hard way in 10 long years as the editor of Reason). They, and presumably their readers, want conflict, scandal, name-calling, and some sex and religion to heighten the combustible mix. Plus journalists, like other people, love to read about themselves and people they know.

That’s no doubt true. Virginia also thinks I sound “defensive” in this post. Maybe, though I’d say “reactive” — the interview, with a guy who warned me up front that I wasn’t likely to like his story, seemed driven as much by unhappiness over RatherGate as anything else.

MICKEY KAUS on the non-Internet-ready Kerry campaign:

Let’s assume that a certain amount of hype is standard procedure in military write-ups, especially when medals are involved. The problem is that Kerry is running for president on this official hype of a more-than-honorable record (one reason he’s constantly referring reporters to his official medal citations). He’s not only running on the hype but pushing it to the limit, milking it for all it’s worth. That’s dangerous in, yes, the Internet era! Obsessive fact-checkers can smoke out the exaggerations and get them past the ex-gatekeepers.** Unfortunately, it’s more or less all Kerry’s got. It wouldn’t be so important if Kerry had a) a discernable ideology; b) a political message; c) a record of achievement; or d) an appealing personality!

As Ann Althouse notes, below, somebody should have thought this through. I wonder how many of the problems in this timeline of woe stemmed from not taking the Internet seriously? It’s not too late to hire Joe Trippi!

UPDATE: ANOTHER BACK-PEDAL? “Kerry’s campaign has said it is possible his first Purple Heart was awarded for an unintentionally self-inflicted wound.” It’s that dang Internet striking again!

THE PRIESTS are nervous.

UPDATE: Reader Dexter Van Zile has further thoughts. Click “more” to read them.

Continue reading ‘THE PRIESTS are nervous.

UPDATE: Reader Dexter Van Zile has further thoughts. Click “more” to rea…’ »

IN THE MAIL: Two interesting books. One (nicely inscribed) is Joe Trippi’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, The Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything, and the other, coincidentally, is L. Brent Bozell’s Weapons of Mass Distortion : The Coming Meltdown of the Liberal Media. Though there are differences (they come from — obviously — different political directions) in a way they’re talking about the same thing, which is how information gatekeepers are losing their hold, and how that’s good for democracy.

I think they’re right, and I think that trying to force the changes brought by the communications revolution into an old-fashioned left/right mode, though understandable in an election year, makes little sense. To quote from BT (who thinks the revolution will be televised):

The revolution will be fought in all forms of media

The revolution will be fought on phone lines and cable modems and cellphones

The revolution will be a war of attrition, against the great dumbing down of our people.

Attrition, indeed. I suspect that Bozell and Trippi agree on that, and — based on a quick look at the books — a lot of other things. (I can’t find this song online, but it’s on this collection that I was just listening to in the car the other day). Left/Right, Democrat/Republican — that stuff’s important (sometimes) in the short run, but the overall changes are much bigger than that.

A WHILE BACK, I challenged FCC Chair Michael Powell to get the FCC to stand up for a free and open Internet. Judging by this piece by FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps, it’s not happening:

This Internet may be dying. At the behest of powerful interests, the FCC is buying into a warped vision that open networks should be replaced by closed networks and that the FCC should excuse broadband providers from longstanding non-discrimination requirements. . . .

The FCC is rushing toward breathtaking change in regulatory policy. Whether it’s the giant media companies or telecom’s gatekeepers, we are closing networks, undermining competition, stifling entrepreneurship and threatening consumer choice. At this rate, it won’t be long until we look back, shake our heads and wonder whatever happened to that open and dynamic high speed Internet that might have been.

Well, that will suit some people just fine.

THE BBC IS IN TROUBLE, according to this in The Times:

For this affair has left the BBC dangerously exposed. It has served as a catalyst, allowing diverse complaints about its news coverage to resurface simultaneously. The Beeb has been accused of, among other matters, fanatical suspicion of the motives of those in power and unrelenting hostility towards the Conservative Party. It has been attacked for a wholesale scepticism about capitalism, combined with a weakness for quack environmentalism and health-scare speculation over hard science.

Reporting the Middle East, it sometimes seems so remorselessly anti-Israeli that Mr Dyke might as well be open about it and allow his reporters to appear speaking Arabic, riding a camel, stopping occasionally to suck from a long pipe in a crowded souk.

Put bluntly, the BBC, a public sector bureaucracy funded by a poll tax, with a privileged status that looks starkly anomalous in an age of hundreds of television channels and thousands of radio stations, needs more friends. It is already detested by other broadcasters, derided by the print press for squandering its vast resources and damned by publishing houses for its increasingly aggressive marketing activities in their domain.

If the BBC wants to retain its privileged position when its charter is due for renewal in 2006, then it must construct a coalition of supporters broader than the Liberal Democrats, Friends of the Earth, Friends of Yassir Arafat, the sort of people who believe that taking an aspirin will inevitably result in limbs falling off and its own staff. It requires mainstream allies as well. . . .

The old consensus that Auntie should be preserved and protected is fraying; the contention that “something must be done” about the corporation is acquiring serious credibility.

Simon Jenkins wrote about the BBC on this page recently, teasingly comparing its excesses to Cardinal Wolsey’s but vigorously defending its “right to be wrong”. This was once the stance of virtually all reasonable and respectable people (plus Simon); it is no longer. The “right to be wrong” is not the same as the liberty to be a law unto oneself.

Indeed. And where will it find those mainstream allies? Nowhere, if its narrow bias continues. This piece in The Telegraph agrees:

Whatever the outcome of the present battle between the BBC and the Government, it does serve to throw attention on the state of the BBC. The BBC has been a bad joke in its news and public affairs broadcasting for several decades, but, in the way of the world, no one notices until his own ox is gored. . . .

The BBC mandate is to be independent of the government of the day and to be objective in its reporting. For a long time, the BBC has been captured by one end of the political spectrum and, with negligible exceptions, all the people who work for it.

They have handled the corporation, especially in news and current affairs, as if it were the party organ of Labour’s Left wing or, at best, the Fabians. This would be acceptable in French public television under a Socialist government, but it is a breach of trust in Britain.

Instead of fuming about it, as Blair and Campbell are doing, or sending dossiers to Greg Dyke, as the Conservatives have, it would be more useful to work out what can be done with an organisation that has lost all even-handedness. Objectivity can’t be maintained by inviting a few Right-wingers to be guests on the many BBC programmes putting America on trial.

How about ending the public subsidy and letting the private sector take over? The likelihood that a major, state-subsidized entity with considerable political clout can actually be objective and fair over the long term is so small that it would seem better to drop the pretense, and to quit subsidizing the political views of the New Class under a threadbare cloak of public service that no longer fools anyone but the gullible.

UPDATE: Susanna Cornett comments:

It’s a classic case of how bias develops in the media, and how those who are at the center of it can’t see it – they perceive themselves as edgy and unaffected by ideology. The reality couldn’t be more different.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Shanti Mangala writes: “Pretty damning for such a prestigious news agency, I should say!”

Click below for more, from a British reader who has followed this closely:

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For this affair has left the BBC dangerously…’ »