Sunday, April 06, 2008

NEW REALITIES. At American Digest, more stuff about the Inevitable Death of the New York Times. This is as much a rightwing blog evergreen as the Dirty Hippie, Our Fighting Men, and Hillary is a Bitch stories; On a slow day, hand-rubbing over the impending doom of the hated MSM's biggest cell will always fill the blog hole.

One thing I wonder, though, is what they'll do when the Times croaks. Technorati currently lists "1,620,071 blog reactions to" That's even more than Instapundit gets. In fact, Instapundit frequently links to the Times (recent example), as do just about all the other conservative blogs -- and not mainly to criticize it, but more often as a source.

Despite all the grand claims made for the groovy blog revolution, the phenomenon is still basically parasitic. Few bloggers do primary reporting. Why should they? The doomed dinosaurs do it for them, and all the bloggers have to do is link to them, occasionally adding some variant of "I call bullshit."

Were the Times to fold, and all the other big pubs to be drawn down into its maelstrom -- a consummation devoutly wished by wingnuts everywhere -- these bloggers would have nothing left to talk about except one another, and reports from large rightwing publications which would presumably, as honorary non-members of the MSM, survive.

You can get a glimpse of this gruesome future at Confederate Yankee, whose mania for media criticism sometimes leads him to attack to treasonous misreporting of... Fox News. Try to imagine him in a post-revolutionary environment. Deprived of liberal media outlets to scourge, he and his comrades would -- after a brief celebration of Rupert Murdoch's new unipolar status -- devote themselves to parsing conservative outlets, and each other, for signs of incorrectness. Every blogger would look upon his brother and see Andrew Sullivan, and denounce him as disloyal to the cause.

Mere opposition to government health care will be seen as accommodationist, and arguments will rage as to whether city hospitals should be merely privatized or closed down to discourage sickness. Each federal bailout of a troubled financial institution will lead to heated debate as to whether the firm's executives should be compensated in gold or Euros. Even the milbloggers, who would be the only source of war coverage in this bold new age, will turn on one another, each declaring the other's account of the latest glorious victory insufficiently enthusiastic, and photos of local youths handing flowers to servicemen will be scrutinized for dark clouds or unconvincing smiles, which will lead to accusations of Photoshop.

Of course, things are pretty ferocious as it is, and if you're of a really cynical turn of mind, you might suspect it's because our current consensus media reality is already exceedingly narrow. But if the evolution of the blogosphere has taught us anything, it's that things can always get worse.

UPDATE. The Ole Perfesser defines his position on the media: the moment [the press is] playing their usual pre-election gloom-and-doom game in the hopes of helping the Democrats.

Which doesn't mean that the economy is necessarily doing better than they say, since their bias is exceeded only by their laziness and ignorance. As I noted some years ago about their Iraq reporting, the fact that they're transparently playing up bogus bad news doesn't mean that there isn't genuine bad news that they're not reporting, because reporting that would require knowledge and effort. So you can't just apply "Kentucky windage" and assume that things are better than the reports say. They may actually be worse, just in a different way than is reported . . .
Or, as Megan McArdle would say, the bad news is only true in "some trivial sense." If the Pope were this good at convincing followers of his infallibility, he wouldn't have to make personal appearance tours.

UPDATE II. Q. Ever-Fucking D.

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