In the early days of blogging there was a blog called Oh, that liberal media, which regularly exposed instances of liberal media bias. In fact in the early days of blogging that was one of the top achievements of the blogosphere, to point out the easy political bias most supposedly objective news sources engaged in. I used to think that the blogosphere would serve as a necessary corrective to the media, but that hasn’t happened.
In recent years, I don’t think that the criticism has had the same effect, even if in some ways the media cocoon has worsened. I think that conservative media critics have convinced all those who can be convinced of the bias and now either people accept the bias because they agree with it or look to alternative news sources because they don’t trust the MSM. And the MSM started paying less attention to the criticism. Most of those who were persuadable have been persuaded. (As far as those who deny that such bias exist … it’s hard to deny when prominent journalists have boasted of the bias.)
But I still believe that it’s possible for the media to jump the shark. At some point the media will show that they are so hopelessly out of touch with most voters, that even non-ideological types would cease to believe them.
Glenn Reynolds’ op-ed Monday in USA Today makes me wonder if the media may have just reached that point with the front page New York Times editorial over the weekend calling for confiscation of all guns in the wake of last week’s San Bernardino terror attack.
In his op-ed Reynolds (Instapundit) wrote that there’s a very good reason that President Obama and his supporters may want to focus on something other than the Middle East, the economy or personal safety:
The problem is, ignoring those issues doesn’t make them go away. Obama’s Middle East policy is still a miserable failure. Putin is still running wild. America’s security from terrorism has seldom looked worse — in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, we at least thought the people in charge were serious — and life for ordinary Americans isn’t going especially well.
It’s supposed to be the function of a free press to resist politicians’ efforts to duck important issues, not to help politicians duck important issues. But, as Jonah Goldberg also noted, the Times’ dramatic gesture is really a sign of weakness: “It shows you how desperate and frustrated the editors — and liberals generally — are with the fact that this country doesn’t agree with them on guns. It also shows that the ‘national conversation’ most Americans want has more to do with Islamist terrorism and less to do with the alleged ‘gun show loophole.’ This alone doesn’t make the Times’ views or their arguments illegitimate or invalid. But it does illustrate how unpersuasive they are to much of the public. … What’s true for lawyers is also true for newspapers: When you’re shouting and pounding the table, it’s probably because you’re losing the argument.”
And if the Times is seeking to misdirect the public, so too is the administration. Prof. Jacobson called Obama’s speech Sunday night “small.”
Jennifer Rubin explained why it seemed that way, “Obama’s speech on Sunday was so brief and lacking in substance that many will conclude that he and speechwriters were simply going through the motions.”
If American don’t feel that the elites are addressing their concerns, or at least understand them, they won’t support or listen to them.
The editors of The New York Times may believe that focusing on gun control will show that they care. President Obama may think that a little speech will show that he cares.
But I suspect that after eight years of a Democratic administration whose two most significant achievements (ObamaCare and the nuclear deal with Iran) remain unpopular with the electorate, most people won’t buy what they’re selling.
I’ve been disappointed before, but Reynolds makes me wonder if we’ve finally reached the media’s tipping point into irrelevance.
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