Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The "Objective" Press Tries to Spread Its Approach

The "objective" press refers to that part of the press -- the mainstream media, the "so-called liberal media" (SCLM), or in my parlance the right-wing media or the he-said-she-said press -- that claims to report news "objectively," and by this means that they always look for two sides to every story, and in political news those two sides are the Democrats and the Republicans. It's a very odd way to use the word objective -- as you know, because you know English, objective means relating to the facts, and as you can confirm by checking a dictionary, the English language does not provide a special meaning of the term that means slavishly reporting the words of two opposing sides, even when one of them might be lying. It is, obviously, a very odd way of trying to get at the facts. It is, historically, a contraption peculiar to the 20th century -- and peculiar to the U.S. as well. In other countries, and in the America our founding fathers knew, the press included highly partisan advocates -- apparently, in 18th century America, little else.

One of the wackiest things about the press is that they think very highly of their he-said-she-said strategy, and try to browbeat other people who are doing more sensible things into adopting it. In a recent short-form Q&A Wired magazine asked the director of Google News if he didn't feel some responsibility to make sure that the news results Google returns are "balanced" in the he-said-she-said sense. When he said he didn't, and said that Google's job is to search for all the content it can find and do its best to sort it so the user will see first the stuff she will think is most relevant to her -- well, the Wired reporter had a response -- she asked again if he didn't feel some responsibility...

Apparently the he-said-she-said press will browbeat anyone in this way. Consider Jon Stewart. Each time I've seen him appear to discuss the press seriously -- once on Crossfire, once at the Syracuse breakfast meeting (partial transcript here), some member of the press has asked him if he doesn't think he has a responsibility to provide balanced news coverage. This is a comedy show that has seven minutes of fake news coverage four days a week -- hello, did anyone not notice that this is satire? This is a show where the second segment is so childish that often its highlight is a dick joke.



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