WaPo Super Bowl ad demonstrates exactly what's wrong with the media
The Washington Post sponsored an ad during the Super Bowl that may have been the most pretentious, the most exaggerated paean to the religion of journalism ever created. They call it "Democracy dies in darkness," and it features a grand, sweeping musical score and actor Tom Hanks seriously intoning the importance, the necessity, and the need to worship journalism.
When we go off to war.
When we exercise our rights.
When we soar to our greatest heights.
When we mourn and pray.
When our neighbors are at risk.
When our nation is threatened.
There’s someone to gather the facts.
To bring you the story.
No matter the cost.
Because knowing empowers us.
Knowing helps us decide.
Knowing keeps us free.
They are absolutely right about that. But what exactly is it that we are "knowing"? The mantra presupposes that the "facts" we are "knowing" are delivered to readers and viewers without bias or malice, that the media eschew the temptation to shape and manipulate public opinion to achieve a desired political end.
But they don't. And they hide their blatant bias behind pious mouthings about press freedom, making it seem as if journalism were somehow sacred and above reproach or criticism. Being a journalist is a calling, they claim, sort of like priests but without the celibacy requirement.
The Washington Post spent millions on this ad, and the reviews were decidedly mixed.
I could have made that WaPo ad in about 20 minutes and I only would have charged $2 million. (Would have had @BrentScher do voice over)— David Rutz (@DavidRutz) February 4, 2019
Yeah, I have a lot of friends who work at the WaPo, but that ad was masturbatory mush. It will only hurt their brand.— Esoteric Jeff (@EsotericCD) February 4, 2019
That WaPo ad about the importance of the media in this time of “darkness” included clips of Fox News reporters.— Isaac Chotiner (@IChotiner) February 4, 2019
Daniel Greenfield writes of the demise of the Newseum – a $450-million religious shrine to the media – and why so many news outlets are failing.
The media has never addressed the fundamental problem with its business model. It wants a monopoly on the marketplace of ideas even as its own positions drift further leftward. It has tried to outgrow that problem by becoming a bigger monopoly, but the internet limited the extent to which its old infrastructure investments could monopolize the public square, leaving its expensive investments in broadcasting and printing equipment as useless as the massive square footage of the Newseum.
And when that failed, the media swung fully leftward, becoming the messaging arm of the most radical elements in the country, while campaigning vigorously for the censorship of social media "fake news".
But its new masters rightly view it with contempt.
"They call us to explain to them what's happening in Moscow and Cairo," Ben Rhodes once sneered to the New York Times. "Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That's a sea change. They literally know nothing."
Greenfield pegs the Newseum for exactly what it is:
The Newseum white elephant at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue isn't just narcissistic idolatry, it celebrates an idea of journalism that doesn't exist. Journalism now is a bunch of millennial social justice activists playing dress-up. They're not a profession or an industry. They don't report. They don't know anything. And they don't serve the public. It's not our fault that the people they really work for, won't pay them.
Journalism is as extinct as the worshipers of Thoth and the Newseum. The media sold off its temple last week, but long before that its hacks and flacks had sold their soul.
"Journalism" is a craft, not a calling. There used to be established rules about how a news story was presented, how it was created and formed. A bricklayer would have recognized the process – and probably could have done as good a job as most reporters.
But today, there is little "news" in the traditional sense of the word, only opinion. "Facts" are organized to reflect a point of view. The facts themselves may be accurate. But it matters how they are presented. Facts can be shaded, giving them more or less emphasis. Facts can be manipulated to tell the story that the editor wants to tell.
It also matters what stories are chosen to be published and where they are placed. The "process" would be unrecognizable to real journalists. That, ultimately, is why media outlets are failing in record numbers.
Donald Trump has popularized the notion that inconvenient or politically damaging facts aren't real news – that he is the arbiter of a special reality where only praise of him and his administration is considered "real." The media resent Trump's criticism and says he's "attacking" the First Amendment and freedom of the press.
This is nonsense. The media's skin is so thin as to be nonexistent. They can brook no criticism of their religion and believe they can silence critics by whining about press freedom and making up overwrought slogans like "Democracy dies in darkness."
Democracy also dies when those charged with protecting it actually extinguish the light that allows the people to see.