Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Let Truth and Falsehood Grapple

In this article, Hugh Hewitt again suggests something like a full disclosure of personal and political views for reporters and producers of the mainstream news media, a suggestion I gently criticized on Monday. While I wouldn't call it "incipient McCarthyism" (I don't know that I'm one of the bloggers to which he refers) I still think he's way off base. It wouldn't make any difference if we all learned how uniformly far-left the mainstream news figures are. They already know it and they don't care. The public's already figured it out and are changing channels. We won't save the MSM from themselves by assigning thought police to expose their worldviews. We just need to give them more competition (or a rope by which to hang themselves).

That's why blogs have become so successful. With blogs we're not limited to choosing between a handful of news sources. Instead we have thousands of sources just a mouse-click away. The trusted sources will become the successful sources.

Perhaps John Milton had some mystical foreknowledge of blogs when he wrote:
Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do ingloriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple: who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?

The sails of the blogosphere billow with the winds of doctrine, and truth and falsehood grapple daily upon her decks. That is what will ultimately doom the mainstream news media.

And here's another quote from Milton's Areopagitica that I must remember the next time someone dismisses blogs as being nothing but a bunch of opinions:
Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making.

More: Bigwig has collected a few reactions here, and Sisu is certainly not the only one whose antennae were set off. Bigwig adds:

It boils down to trust, not on the part of the media consumer, but the media producer. Many bloggers are perfectly happy to answer Hugh's ten questions because they trust their readership to approach them with an open mind regardless of the actual content of their answers to those questions. MSM types may scream "McCarthyism!" when asked the same question, but what that denunciation really means is "We don't trust you enough to tell you," which, come to think of it, explains almost everything one needs to know about the relationship between the mainstream media and the American public.

Hmmmm. So is he saying that the MSM doesn't think we have open enough minds?

Bigwig summarizes my response above as saying "We know what the answers would be already, so what's the point in asking the question?" But even more than that I think there's no point in asking the questions at all. The problem to me is not leftward bias in the mainstream news. The problem is that the MSM is almost entirely leftward-biased. And so I'll repeat my refrain that a little free-market competition is what's needed and, it turns out, is what bloggers provide.


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