“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Medium Rare

Those who have been reading this space for several years know my opinion of Howard Fineman. He is one of the most reliable voices of the media echo chamber, that vast (in their own minds) space where "serious journalists" talk, but only to each other. This Newsweek column is the quintessential echo chamber piece, questioning whether Obama's honeymoon is over. Note, to begin with, that Fineman doesn't quote or even name a single source, unless you count Saturday Night Live. Not only does he get to protect his sources from potential embarassment, but he also gets to present half-baked, but titillating ideas as belonging to "important people", and therefore worthy of his by-line. The reality, of course, is that some people do hold the opinions Fineman reports. But if they truly have merit, they need to be spoken by those with actual expertise, not slipped in a brown paper package to an all-too-willing journalist accomplice. More likely, these are just the whispers of echo-chamber journalists with too much time on their hands who yearn for a real fight, not more whooping up on the suddenly moribund Republicans. They are probably hoping that the WH will rise to the bait and fill a few more otherwise drab news cycles.

Fortunately for us, few people (other than other reporters) actually pay much attention to this drivel. Fineman correctly, if imperiously, notes that the public still likes and trusts the president. And it is true that the only score that matters is what the economy does over the next 2 years (roughly). It is worth remembering that the press made a great deal more fun than this at the expense of newly-elected George W. Bush, but then ignored all their own opinions and rushed to put him on Mt. Rushmore when 9/11 occurred. The present crisis is also not in the media's control. If the public at-large decides that the economy is recovering and keeps spending and investing, then the economy, which is 2/3 dependent upon consumption, will indeed recover, and the press will write that they knew it would happen all along. After all, they will tell us, who else could have known?

Ya know, I certainly share Spacedark's concern over the fate of the printed newspaper, but I also recognize that the best use of most newsprint is as fish-wrapper.