Thursday, April 20, 2006

On shrills, bills, shills and poison pills...

I've enjoyed the back-and-forth I've been having with Dr. Duvall over the past couple days. And having given myself some time to percolate over the points he made in light of my thoughts of the Hobbs situation (that and I needed to do some, you know, actual work), here goes…
  1. “Only way to advance a given position.” Perhaps, but how many reasoned, moderate opinions do we actually get to have advanced this way? Few, perhaps none. They get lost in the screaming.
  2. “Poison pills hidden in the submitted bill.” Absolutely, no question, not only with that bill, but most likely with every other bill submitted over the past decade-and-a-half. Personally, at this point, I don’t know (nor do I care) whether a line-item veto is a conservative or a progressive value: as a citizen concerned, I want it now.
  3. I accept your “priestly caste” analogy (or is it metaphor? Here I am, an alleged writer, and I always get those confused…), but when did we as an electorate give up the idea that smart is good? That capable is good? That taking into account all shades of the spectrum is good? And that abject manipulation of “the system,” whether at the street level or within the halls of power, is bad?
Yes, we’re in an age of specialization in all facets of society. Our mass media availability allows us to occupy our own media universe, more and more constructed specifically for us, and easily filtered to prevent any sort of material that doesn’t exactly hue to what we think we believe from coming through.

And because news media outlets are now so preoccupied with making sure they can hold enough of an audience to ensure their short-term survival, and aren’t able to use their experience and judgment and abilities to do the work needed to showcase the smart, capable people on all sides, the screaming wins, because it’s “good TV” because it brings in viewers or “good blogging” because it garners reaction posts.

I was talking with a friend of mine about this whole fiasco (and there’s really no other way to describe it, regardless of which side of the argument you’re on) and we came to the agreement that most blog comment rolls should be capped at 20, because much past that you’ve veered so far off course through name-calling and “he said, she said” that you can’t even see the original point even with a compass, a map and a great pair of binoculars.

That said, if you think I'm going to wade into Darren's thoughts on the recently announced Pulitzers right now, you're nuts. Let's just say we'll have to live in Agreetodisagreeville on that one.

1 comment:

Darren Duvall said...

It's sad to admit this, but I mentally tag all news reports about big controversial issues with a political weathervane, a vector if you will that acts on the line of the story. I try to be as honest as possible about the political vector assessment, because I know the Right spins plenty. It's bad enough when you have to de-spin political speech during campaigns, but I habitually try to de-spin news, because I don't believe anyone can just Tell A Story, anymore, they need to include a Message that varies from camp to camp.

There are EVENTS. There are facts about these events. At best, we get as subset of these facts presented to us, except we're expected to believe that these are ALL the facts. They rarely are. They are the facts that the reporter can verify (or has verified, or not), and often the ones that best support the story that the reporter is trying to tell. IMO this is common practice from both the Right and the Left. I'm more interested in what the EVENTS were, not the subset of facts that are presented as 'the events'. The EVENTS are often unknowable in the the short term, because they are obscured by 'the events'. And so we live is a sea of BS and 'truthiness', and are left to our own devices to divinate the EVENTS from 'the events'. I don't even think the MSM even bothers to hide this anymore. The advantage of bloggers and Internet news, IMO, is that there is a profusion of perspectives that gives us (well, for me myself anyway) a chance to get past 'the events' and make some sense of my own about the EVENTS. This takes a lot of time, and effort.

I'm sure there's a couple of reporters that I'm doing a horrible disservice to with this way of looking at things, and the blogosphere is certainly capable of becoming nothing more than an echo-chamber, but there are people willing to call 'BS' on things and give you the reasons why from their perspectives, and I appreciate that immensely. In general, I find that the business press is the least left/right political about most things simply because their intended audiance demands facts not for argument around the dinner table, but for betting real money on things, and they don't tolerate error or bias very well for these kinds of decisions. The sports media is good too, but they don't do a lot of political stuff.

I'm probably way off-topic already and it's only one post. Sorry. Had to vent.