Peggy Noonan (who was once a producer for Dan Rather, incidentally) in today’s WSJ:
Mr. Fineman asserts that the MSM came into existence after World War II, which is essentially true, but goes on to claim that it came into existence as the result of the fact that “a temporary moderate consensus came to govern the country.” Please. America was a political battleground in those days, fighting over everything from McCarthyism to the true nature of communism to the proper role of government to Vietnam. The MSM didn’t come into existence because of a brief period of political comity. The MSM rose because it had a monopoly. And it fell because it lost that monopoly.
All this has been said before but this can’t be said enough: The biggest improvement in the flow of information in America in our lifetimes is that no single group controls the news anymore.
Only 20 years ago, when you were enraged at what you felt was the unfairness of a story, or a bias on the part of the storyteller, you could do this about it: nothing. You could write a letter.
When I worked at CBS a generation ago I used to receive those letters. Sometimes we read them, and sometimes we answered them, but not always. Now if you see such a report and are enraged you can do something about it: You can argue in public on a blog or on TV, you can put forth information that counters the information in the report. You can have a voice. You can change the story. You can bring down a news division. Is this improvement? Oh yes it is.
Some media organs–Newsweek, Time, the New York Times–will likely use the changing environment as license to be what they are: liberal, only more so. Interestingly they have begun to use Fox News Channel as their rationale. We used to be unbiased but then Fox came along with its conservative propaganda so now just to be fair and compete we’re going liberal.
I don’t see why anyone should mind this. A world where National Review is defined as conservative and Newsweek defined as liberal would be a better world, for it would be a more truthful one. Everyone gets labeled, tagged and defined, no one hides an agenda, the audience gets to listen, consider, weigh and allow for biases. A journalistic world where people declare where they stand is a better one.