Roger L. Simon

The (Media) Struggle Continues

When the history of the current American… scratch that… world media revolution is written, the Summer of 2004 will occupy an interesting chapter. We are in what might seem to be but an early phase of monumental change, but we are within only a five-letter word of everything going topsy-turvy. That word is, of course, money. The mainstream media, whether it knows it or not (and I think it does), lives in mortal fear of a serious income stream heading toward blogs, even worse being redirected towards them.

After that, who knows what would happen? The one advantage held by the MSM, the ability to pay for research, would be vitiated. Already blogs, working for nothing or next to nothing, provide information unavailable elsewhere (from Iraq, for one obvious and crucial example). Taken together, they have a raw research capability beyond what any newspaper or television network could conceive. Not only that, they have the potential for more sophisticated and original analysis of those events because there are no gatekeepers between commentators and readers.

Which is a way of segueing into why this summer will be seen as important. If there is a more interesting commentator on world events today in any medium than Wretchard of the Belmont Club, I do not know him or her. He wrote yesterday:

The undercard in the Kerry vs Swiftvets bout is Mainstream Media vs Kid Internet, two distinctly different fights, but both over information. The first is really the struggle over the way Vietnam will be remembered by posterity; whether its amanuensis will be John Kerry for the antiwar movement or those who felt betrayed by them. The victor in that struggle will get to inscribe the authoritative account of that mythical conflict in Southeast Asia: not in its events, but in its meaning. The fight will be as bitter as men for whom only memory remains can be bitter. But the undercard holds a fascination of its own. The reigning champion, the Mainstream Media, has been forced against all odds to accept the challenge of an upstart over the coverage of the Swiftvets controversy.

I am one of those who is skeptical that the overcard in this double bill will ever be resolved. I can’t even resolve it for myself. For the moment, the undercard interests me more becuase it is about our world going forward. In a sense, the overcard can be read as a stalking horse for the undercard. A power struggle is under way. John Kerry says he is a hero of Vietnam. The blogosphere says let’s examine that. The mainstream media says no, no, no. The blogosphere counters. And so far the blogosphere has won. Why? Not to reach any final conclusions about Vietnam. They may be, alas, lost in the jungle. But to look at the character of the man who wishes to lead us. This is the isse the mainstream media seems to want to evade. The blogosphere won’t let them

The MSM tried again last night when John Kerry appeared on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, another foray into “The Philosophy of As If.” Jon Stewart was undoubtedly chosen because he has the affect of a rebel–he’s a cool. But he is a card-carrying member of the mainstream media, working for Comedy Central. It should come as no surprise, as Instapundit points out, that Stewart did not follow up, as many bloggers would, on Kerry’s non-response to his Cambodia question. Stewart’s part of the club, after all. He doesn’t have an interest in rocking the boat. But the boat’s rocking, everyone. Hang on. We may be going over the falls soon… or sooner or later.