We had a recent back and forth about the extent of Old Media’s protection of Barak Obama during the 2008 Presidential campaign. This took two forms, one a vigorous investigation and reaction to any one who might damage Obama’s political prospects (e.g., “Joe the Plumber”) with its opposite when the subject was Obama. Hence the lack of investigation of, say, Obama’s years at college, his travels in Indonesia, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, the details of his relationship with Bill Ayers, etc. The classic example remains the treatment of Jack Ryan vs. Obama during the Illinois Senate race.
A corollary of this is the ability of the person with Old Media favor to make bogus claims and not get called on it while the statements of their opponents are critically analyzed. I will admit that one amusing side effect of this is how Old Media tends to believe its own spin and is constantly surprised when reality doesn’t conform to pronouncements by the favored ones.
In this regard I thought I would bring up another subject which is treated in the same way by Old Media, particularly in the USA, which is global warmening. The same techniques are used, where AGW skeptics are investigated and their motives questioned, while the biggest scandal in scientific, and possibly world, history is left mostly unreported. Yes, the information is out there, but if that’s really the argument, that if citizens were interested they could find out through personal investigation, what’s the point of Old Media? Other than to promote particular ideologies by presenting a distorted version of reality?
If those techniques don’t work, then there’s the “racist!” smear which is now wheeled out regardless of any facts1. There’s a whiff of this in calling AGW skeptics “deniers” but it’s the Tea Party that really brings it out. Semi-fringe people like Keith Olberman get it started but then it’s followed up by more respected organizations. I’m sure someone will get around to comparing them to StormFront.
The one hopeful thing is that Old Media’s ability to frame the Narrative is being ground away by its own mistakes, excesses, and new communication technologies. When defenders of Old Media start to care about it’s abuse of its position, then I might start to care about its demise.
1 You can see it in things like the fringe attempt to link Amy Bishop to the Tea Party, the more mainstream attempt at linking the Ausint pilot as well, vs. the treatment of the suicide of a census worker in Kentucky.