Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal has, in an indirect way, jumped into our discussion of media bias. Her latest column has much to say about the impact — journalistic and financial — of that yawning culture gap that exists between most mainstream journalists and a rather large chunk of readers, especially out there in flyover America and the deadly red zip codes. Click here to get to “Not a Bad Time to Take Stock: Thoughts on the decline of the liberal media monopoly and the future of the GOP.”
Before you read it, please let me make a personal comment or two.
First of all, I really don’t care much about the future of GOP, seeing as how I am a conservative Democrat. However, I guess it pays to pay attention to the GOP issues, since those of us on the pro-life side of things end up facing the terrible voting-booth choice of selecting between pro-business Republicans who say they are pro-life and almost as fiercely pro-business Democrats who, unless you live in a dozen or so congressional districts, are pro-abortion rights. Please, in the comments, don’t get pulled off into arguments about Noonan’s politics. Let’s talk about journalism.
Also, I know that technology — like this blog — is leading us into an era of niche media. I accept that and I know that much of what Noonan says is accurate about how this will open up news-media options on the right. But I still cannot celebrate this trend. I cannot find a way to slap a smile on my face and dance on the grave of the American Model of the Press. As I just said in a comment on the “Ships sail on” post:
When an industry is sliding the way the MSM is right now, it is a good thing to listen to customers and respond as best you can, without compromising your ethics. In this case, seeking a diversity of voices on the hottest issues in our culture sounds like good business, to me. I care about the future of the newspaper industry. A lot. I want it to be harder for conservatives to attack it. …
You see, I really believe that it is possible to have a newsroom that cares about intellectual and cultural diversity and, thus, contains reporters who have a gut instinct about when a newspaper’s coverage is simply shallow, inaccurate, unbalanced, twisted or all of the above when it comes time to deal with the morally conservative side of American life. I believe that newsrooms don’t have to lean 90 percent in one direction on the hottest controversies of our day and that it would be good for journalism the craft, and journalism the business, if that were not the case.
I am pro-diversity. Period. Real diversity. But, you see, I think that is possible in mainstream newsrooms — not just in the cable TV, talk radio and WWW world that is dominated by the European Model of the Press. I like newspapers and wire services, thank you very much. I am an American journalist.
Thus, it is painful to read something like this from Noonan:
We are in a time when the very diminution of the importance of network news leaves some old news hands to drop their guard and announce what they are: liberal Democrats. Nothing wrong with that, but they might have told us when they were in power. The very existence of conservative media — of Rush Limbaugh, of Fox, of the Internet sites — has become an excuse by previously “I call ’em as I see ’em/I try to be impartial” journalists to advance their biases. Actually, it’s more Fox than anything. The existence of a respected cable network that is nonliberal and non-Democratic (or that is conservative, or Republican, or neoconservative — people on the right have polite disagreements about this) is more and more freeing news outlets, encouraging them actually, as a potential business model, to be more and more what they are. Is this good? Well, it’s clearer. Then again Time magazine this week illustrated a story about Republicans in Congress with a drawing of a merry circus elephant surrounded by the Republican leadership. They were covered, I’m not kidding, in the elephant’s fecal matter. (It’s on page 23. Time will no doubt call it chocolate.)
No, I can’t find the illustration on the Time site. If you can, send us the link.