Roger L. Simon

Democracy is Hard Work

Daniel Henninger’s oped in today’s WSJ bemoaning the decline (through bias) of Big Media is likely to get a lot of attention. The heart of the matter came for me just a few graphs from the bottom:

In fact, it’s too bad this abdication has occurred just as political opinions have become overheated by the kind of electronic technology deployed in the 2004 election. We really could use some neutral ground, a space one could enter without having to suspect that “what we know” about X or Y was being manipulated. The problem with being spun day after day by newspapers or newscasts is that it gets tiresome, no matter your politics. You end up having to Google every subject in the news (Guantanamo, gay marriage statutes, Tora Bora, the Patriot Act) to find out what’s been left out or buried at the bottom.

I certainly can sympathize with Henninger. I remember well the halcyon days when I opened my New York Times in the morning and thought I was getting The News. Then I would go my merry way and enjoy (or not) my day. But I’m not sure, in retrospect, I was getting The News any more then I have been in the Rathergate era. And this is not just because of bias, rampant as it may be. Or even just because of normal human error. I disagree with Henninger. A citizenry using Google (or the equivalent) to find its news, to search for the truth, elusive as that may be, is a concerned citizenry, an engaged citizenry. This is democracy at work. Big Media, well intentioned or not, is simply one source. It should never be more than that. People are learning not to be passive, Mr. Henninger. Let’s not turn the clock back.