In Canada's "Munk Debates" series, a civil discussion about the future of media
I find it hilarious that anyone who is a serious newspaperman could state that the Mueller Report was an accomplishment for the mainstream media is mind-boggling. It was one of the most horrifying journalistic travesties in all of our lifetimes. "The Mueller report documented dozens and dozens of interactions between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives." NO, actually the Mueller Report clearly stated in 4 PLACES that the report could not establish ANY IMPROPER CONTACTS BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND ANY RUSSIANS. It literally says that FOUR TIMES!
Mainstream media makes it all about Democrats vs. Republicans. The reality is that the electorate is over 40% Independents, and "leaners" doesn't really cover it. Democrats have a bigger problem i think in that they assume that if we're not Republicans, we have nowhere else to go. The tried their best to shove Hillary Clinton down our throats, and it turned out that we actually did have somewhere else to go. Whether it was third party, write in, Trump, or the couch.
The Democratic media seems to have the same problem. If we're not interested in Fox News, we have no alternative than to read the Wapo or the NYT or the other Dem mags, and swallow their biases and viewpoints and agendas whole. Well, Substack gives us somewhere to go, no wonder they're crapping bricks. And what should make them crap even more is that we're a range from Bernie supporters disgusted with the Dems over to conservatives disgusted with the Republicans. And we have common ground. Never stop, Matt, and thank you.
Ben Bradlee says, "I think that the key thing is how do we come together on defining facts, so that there is less of a chasm between left and right on this? " But he's unwilling to concede the most obvious thing, that the media vastly overpromised and underdelivered on the so-called Russia collusion. He's part of the problem.
Thank you so much for your concluding comments. The people inside the Washington “bubble” are an incestuous, arrogant gentry who have no interest in how people in middle America live or think. The preppy elites on both coasts are mainly ignorant about blue collar America. They ignorantly ignore the fact that two thirds of US voters are non-college educated working people who are smarter than they know.
you said, "that they're going to be devoted to pursuing the same ideological framework. "
It seems to me, it's more like the mainstream media aren't all just devoted to pursuing the same ideological framework-- they are all devoted to pursuing the same ideological outcome. Their goal has ceased being 'reporting the news'. Their goal now is 'social change'. And that goals has become so important to them, they have completely sacrificed honesty and objectivity in reporting to try to achieve it. Which means what the mainstream media is peddling now isn't 'news'-- it is 'propaganda'. No thanks. As far as I can see, the sooner mainstream media dies, the better off we will all be. Better to be ignorant than to rely on professional liars.
Ben: “We can't have the thought police intervening to that extent.”
Not. “We can’t have the Thought Police.” or “The Thought Police is an Orwellian nightmare come true we must fight against to our dying breath.”. Not even “Policing thought is the most anti-American concept imaginable.”
No. Nothing like that. We can have Thought Police. Just not to the extent a NYTimes editor gets fired by them. One can only hope Ben knows this was a very poorly worded statement. If he supports Thought Police then he can share the media’s fate and I won’t lose any sleep over it.
Strongly agree that the classism of the modern media is a problem, and you should be commended for your self-awareness, Matt.
An uncomfortable corollary: I suspect it's also driven by the class backgrounds of media consumers. This dynamic of rich people preaching to other rich people about how aggrieved they are leads to absurd situations.
For example, there is a huge volume of written material describing capitalism as sexist because this or that product is marketed to women in a differential manner. However, this is primarily a function of the fact that women control something like three-quarters of consumer spending. If it were the inverse, they would also cry sexism as well. It's all sexism, all the time.
Meanwhile, you have a guy with the qualifications of Paris Hilton (heir, real estate fortune, reality tv star, fake tan), and no one thinks to make the comparison. However, doing exactly that would be a blatant admission that they and their entire social class are an utter joke.
"We've lost thousands of local newspapers since the early 2000s. "
sounds like anti-competitive monopoly behavior was at play. multi-national corporations have basically bought up national media outlets as their very own agit-prop arms. they operate them at a loss, just like a monopoly to drive competition to the ground and don't really care if they even make a profit. like a cost of doing business for their other operations.
we need to bust trusts and cartels. they are running our country. health care, news, even politics.
why is it that Americans can't recognize ant-competitive behavior that is endorsed by government?
"We can't have the thought police intervening to that extent."
this statement should have ended directly after the word police
I think a lot of the mainstream media really does need to die, and The Boston Globe is at the top of the list. As discussed in the debate, newspapers do precious little investigative reporting, and are really just clickbait operations. But the Globe and papers like it rely on its century old reputation for its independent reporting and the Spotlight team to mislead the public into thinking what they write is somehow more reliable than what any random person writes on twitter. It really isn't the case, it's just that the Globe has more followers in the form of subscribers than most Twitter accounts do. So the Globe at least, by being both influential and purveyors of misleading propaganda, really does need to die.
Mr. Bradlee lost my respect with his knee-jerk response "Well, it wasn't a witch-hunt. I don't think we should lose sight of the fact that the Mueller report came up with the overarching finding of systematic Russian interference in the 2016 election and cited about 10 specific examples of obstruction of justice." The partisan Democrats just can't let go of it. It was a witch-hunt, there was a finding of attempted interference, and the bulk of the obstruction charges were process crimes triggered by the fact of the investigation.
This is great. Your voice should be the most influential and prominent right now, Matt. Instead you get chased around on Twitter by people who say you are no longer "pure" enough for the new Left. It's disgusting what has happened to journalism. The thing is, it DOES still exist. But the channels for it - social media - are corrupt beyond repair. If it doesn't happen on Twitter it doesn't happen. It has to go viral and all of that nonsense. We need, I think, more trustworthy aggregators. We need a Drudge Report for honest objective journalism people can check every day.
Matt briefly alluded to this at the very end, but a key issue missing from almost all of the debate is emergence of a strong wave of anti-elitism or "populism" on both the right and the left over the last 30 to 40 years. This has come about not due to the rise of the internet or the collapse of the mainstream media's business model but due to the collapse of the middle and working class, and their communities, and the destabilizing levels of wealth and income inequality that have destroyed the nation's sense common purpose and faith in its institutions, not just in the mainstream media, but in federal and state governments, labor unions, corporations, universities, the health care system, both political parties, elections and "experts" of all kinds. They are no longer trusted - in fact are widely hated and resented - so why would journalists whose stock in trade is quoting them and citing them somehow escape. The system is not working for the great majority of Americans and they (correctly) see the mainstream media as agents of the system that is failing, even actively screwing, them. At the same time, the elite mainstream media is increasingly run by and for the "educated" elites who run these failing institutions. I went to an Ivy League journalism school, reported for mainstream newspapers for 30 years, was on the board of a national journalism organization, taught investigative reporting and have watched this sad decline accelerate since I got out of the business in 2006. Traditional media has some serious problems specific to itself that have made it more vulnerable to the larger trends and less able to play a remedial role in the larger decline of the society, but the overall decline of the society - it's failure and dysfunction for the large majority (while enriching the rich) - is the overarching problem. Many mainstream journalists, including myself, hoped to be part of the solution. Obviously things have not turned out as we'd hoped. In retrospect, we failed to clearly understand what was going around us. Ultimately, mainstream journalism as it now exists needs to crash and burn, which it is doing now and will not be a loss because it (including, especially, the "woke' careerists at the elite media) has fully signed on as defender of the elites against the internet rabble wherever privatized censorship and cancellation can be imposed. How this will all turn out I cannot say, but "Follow the money," is still as good a guide as any. Mass journalism is a powerful force in society, but not an independent one. It always, in the end, follows the larger forces, especially the money and the interests of the people with money.
The fact that Bradlee still clings to the Mueller report completely explains the demise of the MSM.
Matt's closing statement about the need for local journalists is a laser--I think Mike Royko (Chicago), Herb Caen (SF) , John Ralston (LV), Steve Otto (Tampa). They were all white males who knew politics and government. Diversification of voices was needed, of course, but it didn't happen. These fellows retired or died and they were not replaced with anyone.
The "findings" of the Mueller rept. are as consequential as the finding of WMDs in Iraq. Yes, there was something there, but so little and what was there was of such inconsequence as to be worthless. That Bradlee cannot see that, indeed is still hanging on what was truly a witch-hunt, is frankly pathetic.
I comment here at Taibi's joint because I am willing to put the money for what he generally writes. I am not always interested in the subject, but I overall trust Matt to put up good writing that is solidly researched. And I am well aware that it might not comport with what I want to hear, and that is more than OK, it is a huge chunk of why I trust him.
Newspapers screwed up when they let advertising and classified become the primary source of income, as that was easy money at the time, and now, when it really seems to matter they have lost the focus of why people will pay for real news and not fluff.