Brad DeLong is indignant about the media again.
CBS news published a rumor invented by disgraced plagiarist and rightwing operative Ben Domenech which claimed that potential Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is an out lesbian.The post was pulled after a day of controversy, but by that time it had done its job. The rumor was “out there”.
Even though it was the Washington Post that got burned by Domenech’s plagiarism, all that Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz had to say about the episode was that “the flare-up underscores how quickly the battle over a Supreme Court nominee — or even a potential nominee — can turn searingly personal.” Just another he-said she-said disagreement between the two political parties.
Corrupt, conspiratorial organizations need a demimonde of lowlifes and hoodlums to do the jobs that might someday have to be disavowed. The Republican Party has enough of them on retainer to constitute a whole industry sector. After his disgrace, Domenech did not have to get a job in food service: “Domenech is the managing editor for health care policy at The Heartland Institute, the editor of The New Ledger, and hosts a daily free market podcast at BigGovernment.” He wasn’t even banned from the major media for long.
These mafias also need plants in legitimate organizations to front for them, and that’s where Kurtz fits in. Kurtz is the most authoritative media critic we’ve got. He sets the standard, both by example and in his writings, and journalists look to him to learn what can and cannot be done. And they just learned, if they didn’t know it already, that publishing rumors spread by right wing political operatives and plagiarists is OK. Just part of the game.
The bad drives out the good. At this point the media cannot afford to hire anyone excessively honest, because their omertà would be suspect. Whenever someone with a hitherto good reputation is promoted to one of the lucrative media jobs, watch their performance. During the courtship period before their elevation, were there signs of the kind of “reasonableness” and “centrism” the media demands? After the hiring?
All these people (Kurtz, Domenech, and the hundreds of others) are completely competent, the same way that Mafia union leaders are completely competent. It’s just that they don’t see their jobs the way we do. That’s why they still have jobs.
There should be a camp for liberals who use the words “competent” and “incompetent” all the time. (Call it the Dukakis Memorial Re-education Center). It shouldn’t be a death camp and no one should be waterboarded, but stress methods would have to be used, because liberals don’t learn easily. Competence is not the issue.
(Yeah, yeah, Krugman and Olbermann. They were hiring mistakes. )
Addendum: Let me just excerpt and edit this comment, which I made at DeLong’s on a related thread:
There’s very little effective demand for honest, intelligent reporting. There’s a lot of demand for evasive, shallow, dishonest reporting. There’s an enormous demand for right wing hackery. The information market will destroy our democracy.
I understand that good liberals are urbane and ironic and technocratic and above the battle and that only demented populists talk about deliberate, organized malfeasance and corruption, but I’m a demented populist.