Saturday, December 01, 2012

The internet, the old media, and the "conservative tabernacle choir"

"Joseph Rago writes at The New Criterion that "my sense is that the level of bullshit in American politics is increasing, though of course there is no way of measuring the tendency or detecting if technology is to blame and by how much. Bullshit, as defined by the Princeton moral philosopher Harry Frankfurt, is distinct from lying in that it is produced without any concern for the truth. It doesn’t even need to be false, exaggerated, or misleading. The bullshitter is simply indifferent to truth and falsity. Partly I suspect that is because the velocity of the Internet often compels the politicos to have opinions on subjects they know nothing about, and say things and express outrage that they obviously don’t believe."

So, the mainstream media does "fact-checking." However, Rado asserts that "fact checking is really an MSM confession that the public does not trust journalists to report “facts” in the first place. On the other hand, "If people do not want truth, markets will satisfy that demand."

But wait, what about the accuracy of conservative punditry? "The conservative tabernacle choir’s media triumphalism continues apace but also seems more complacent than ever. To take one recent example, consider the election just ended, in which the right-leaning blogosphere concluded on a political hunch that every public poll was wrong and that Mitt Romney would win in a romp. If the Internet has demolished one hegemonic depiction of reality, it has also enabled people to create many alternatives to it as well."

Now, what about the effect of the internet on the dissemination of ideas? Rago writes, "The more there is, the less anything might matter, but instead the first rate, the honest, the compelling stuff has become more valuable as a result of its rarity."

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