“What is truth” asked Pilate. It’s a good question.
An equally good question “is who is credible and who do we believe?”
In that context, let’s talk about the sources of information from which we attempt to discern the truth. For more than a generation, the sources of information from which we try to discern the truth have been the newspapers and TV networks. These sources have been limited. It is claimed with some credibility that the NY Times sets the agenda for the alphabet networks. Can we agree that Liberals were generally satisfied with the media in the “good old days” when the Times view was reflected, like a series of mirrors in the rest of the media? Rush Limbaugh has a riff he uses innumerable times in which he notes a story that gets the same treatment in the NY Times, Washington Post, NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, et cetera. It’s funny and it’s true.
But something has changed. It started with Limbaugh but has grown with the advent of his imitators and with FOX News. And it drives Liberals nuts. We can now appreciate the anger that must have shaken the halls of the Kremlin when the leaders of the USSR found that they had lost control of the information available to their citizens. They still had Pravda (Russian for “Truth”) and Izvestia (Russian for “Delivered Messages”) plus Soviet TV and Soviet radio. They spent millions blocking Radio Free Europe and sent dissenting voices to the Gulag. But samizdat and technology overcame the Party media monopoly, truth escaped, and that marked the beginning of the end for the USSR.
In America dissenting voices on the Right are dealt with differently. Lacking a Gulag, the Left deals with reporting from the Right with scorn and ridicule. Quote the NY Times or CNN and your references are treated with respect. Quote FOX and there are a dozen voices that will dismiss your evidence out of hand. The Obama administration has chosen to take part in this fight,
What we call the “alternative media” to distinguish it from the MSM (mainstream media) - or dinosaur media – is gaining traction, but the weapons of ridicule and hate are powerful indeed. It’s effective. Let’s face it, even I will link to a MSM source to add credibility even knowing that the Times has the credibility of Pravda. I did a quick Google search of respected Libertarian blogger Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) and came up with some interesting data. Searching for Instapundit and FOX generated 955,000 links,
- for Instapundit and CBS, 860,000,
- for Instapundit and NY Times 577,000,
- for Instapundit and NBC 561,000,
- for Instapundit and PBS 333,000,
- for Instapundit and CNN 326,000,
- for Instapundit and ABC 221,000 and dead last
- Instapundit and MSNBC 217,000.
What this tells us is that FOX is a credible news source for people on the Libertarian/Right but that the other sources still vastly outnumber the “Fair and balanced” folks on FOX.
But as the transition continues from a monolithic, Liberal approved “State Run Media” (as Limbaugh likes to put it with just a touch of hyperbole) to a truly democratic media cloud made possible by radio, cable TV and the Internet, the hating on FOX will intensify. Powers don’t give up their positions readily, quickly or easily. The entrenched establishment, not just in Big Media but Big Labor, Big Government, and Crony Capitalism, has too much at stake to just turn over the reins. The violence is already starting to move from being verbal and intellectual to physical.