The Failure of the 'Mainstream'
Posted on: 2007-05-07 08:36:02
The media, the intellectuals, and the politicians all failed us in the run-up to war
by Justin Raimondo
In contemplating how and why we got where we are today – stuck in the quagmire of Iraq and faced with a relentless assault on our civil liberties at home – three major failures come to mind, three institutions that imploded under enormous pressure. Like the steel girders that held up the World Trade Center towers, these cultural-political pillars melted under the tremendous emotional heat generated by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and their collapse paved the way for all that came after.
The first pillar to fall – the "mainstream" media – crumbled almost immediately. Hours after the World Trade Center came crashing down, reporters had already pinned on their flag lapels and started parroting the government line. Bill Moyers, in his comprehensive look at how and why the "major" media melted down in the heat of the moment, chronicles the sorry story but doesn't really come to any firm conclusions about why that moment of utter capitulation lasted for years – and has only worn off just recently (which accounts for the fact that the Moyers documentary was made at all). In any case, Moyers details the pathetic story of how professional journalists abdicated their responsibilities to their readers and themselves – but doesn't readily explain why.
After all, these guys have tremendous resources and real power: that's why they call them the "Fourth Estate." The ability to shape public opinion and set the terms of the debate is a powerful weapon in any hands, and the extreme concentration of media ownership is a real factor in enforcing an informal "party line" in what is laughingly referred to as the "mainstream" media, or the MSM, as the right wing of the blogosphere likes to put it. Yet the line between the "mainstream" and its tributaries on the margins is increasingly blurred by the emergence of the Internet as the main artery through which information is distributed and consumed. When Matt Drudge rivals the New York Times as the trend-setting arbiter of what's news and what isn't, you know we have entered an entirely new era in news-gathering.