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Hullabaloo


Thursday, September 09, 2010

 
Infotainment Values

by digby


I'm listening to a bunch of reporters on CNN ask each other if the press has anything to do with the Koran burning preacher story becoming international news. Seriously.(Yo their credit they all did try to put the story in the context of Obama's election and draw comparisons between the years after 9/11 and now, which is unusual in these discussions.)

And at least they aren't blaming it on bloggers and twitter like the NY Times apparently is with it's question: "In the age of Facebook and Youtube, how should the news media have responded to Terry Jones and his plan to burn the Koran?" What do Facebook and Youtube have to do with this?

Anyway, Rick Perlstein patiently explains the real problem:


The problem is not the Web. Anti-JFK rallies "revealing" to every school child in Orange County, California that Communists planned to colonize the United States by the year 1970 drew bigger crowds than Tea Parties today, with nary a blogger among them.

Most mainstream of media outlets have become comically easy marks for those actively working to push public discourse to extremes.

The problem is that elite media gatekeepers have abandoned their moral mandate to stigmatize uncivil discourse. Instead, too many outlets reward it. In fact, it is an ironic token of the ideological confusions of our age that they do so in the service of upholding what they understand to be a cornerstone of civility: the notion that every public question must be framed in terms of two equal and opposite positions, the "liberal" one and the "conservative" one, each to be afforded equal dignity, respect — and (the more crucial currency) equal space. This has made the most mainstream of media outlets comically easy marks for those actively working to push public discourse to extremes.

Don't blame the minister and his bait-and-switch bonfire either. Once upon a time anticommunist book burnings and threats of book burnings were not unheard of. The difference is that Associated Press reporters did not feel obliged to show up. That shift in news values, not the rise of the Internet, is the most profound way that times have changed.


Read on. It's good.

When entertainment values guide the press then hucksters, showmen and charlatans will find a way to give them what they need for everyone's mutual benefit. In fact the right wing has developed an entire industry devoted to it.


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