I watched most of both major parties’ conventions streaming on C-SPAN. I don’t have TV (a lack for which I am more and more grateful every day this political season drags on), so it was online or nothin’. All the major networks and many cable outlets offered their coverage online, but I have to tell ya: I can only take so much talking head. So it was C-SPAN for me.
In addition to what seemed to be contempt for community organizing, I was struck by the outrage expressed by many of the RNC speakers regarding the “media elite.” Now, charges of media bias are nothing new in politics; everybody’s heard of the librul media. And I readily recognize that the unique circumstances of Gov. Sarah Palin being picked as the GOP running mate torched off what can legitimately be called a (an over-?) zealous media frenzy. (To ask what I think is a fair question, wasn’t that kinda the point?) But what threw me off a bit was the implied assumption that the news media (I assume that’s who they mean when they say “media elite”) should be impartial.
Stop the presses! some of you are saying. Isn’t journalistic neutrality something that should be assumed?
Here’s the thing: I don’t know. I know there is a long tradition of “serious” journalists (and schools of journalism) preaching objectivity and “disinterestedness” (as they like to call it); I’m just not sure, in our age of reality TV and the 24-hour news cycle, that it’s even a possibility.
But I’m also not sure that’s a bad thing.
Am I the only one who finds it a bit reassuring to know where most everybody stands? Man, I love checking in on The National Review Online and The Weekly Standard to see what David Frum and crazy ol’ neocon Bill Kristol have to say about the underhanded plotting of The Evil Left. And I love peeking in on the ganga-fueled ravings of the Kossacks and the merlot-soaked bloviating of The Huffington Post to stay on top of the newest conspiracies hatched by The Evil Right. I love PajamasMedia and the whole roll over at The Atlantic. And I love watching Jon Stewart make hearty and delectable mincemeat pie of the whole shebang on The Daily Show. (I draw the line at watching FOX News, but there are 8 million+ people covering that base for me.)
Gone are the days when we could tune in as a nation to trustworthy Walter and know that we were getting the straight poop. And I think maybe it’s okay. (Furthermore, I’m pretty sure there’s no going back outside of some kind of apocalypse, so we may as well roll with the punches, given the alternative.) New media, for better or worse, has given everyone with wifi a soapbox from which to air his or her well- or ill-considered take on the world’s goings on. I, for one, am glad that the “media elite” are no longer the sole arbiters of information.
And when I get tired of all the opinions-couched-as-truth, I can always watch C-SPAN.