Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Michael Hiltzik Article: Is "Bigness" A Conservative Value?


Which one is the conservative?

A couple of commenters on the Michael Hiltzik post below got into this interesting exchange:

Rick Ellis said:

"The MSM prevents intrusions into their Official POV, and it runs unopposed, save for Fox. "

[Fox] has its own official POV. I don't want to get into a pissing war about the "liberal" media, but I do want to make the observation that Fox is as much a part of the mainstream media as any other network.

They may have a different POV politically, but that's the equivalent of having the same model car with a different color paint job.

Dick responded:

Granted that Fox has a point of view and it may indeed by considered part of the MSM. The difference is that it is just about the only part of MSM that has a POV that is different. In addition you will find the old MSM going out of its way to say that Fox is biased but they are not. That is not something that Fox does. It makes a big difference in that by the attitude of the old MSM Fox is not a part of the pack regardless of whether you or I might think it is or not.

While you are pontificating about it, take a look at the way that the DU group treat what Fox broadcasts. They automatically discount it because it is on Fox. Whether it is true or not does not matter. If it is on Fox it is automatically wrong. While those of us on the other side of the aisle may think almost the same of the old MSM, we at least look for the info that will either prove it wrong or agree with it.

Bloggers are needed for this alone. The old MSM is not very good at self-correcting; in fact it goes out of its way not to self-correct. Bloggers on the other hand by their very nature self-correct either on the same website by agreeing that they were caught out by another blogger or finding it themselves. They also do not let other bloggers get away with much. The good point of having a Glenn Reynolds acting as a sort of switchman as he does is that he does a pretty good job of directing to most of the different points of view out there. Sometimes he comments, sometimes he just points to where info is. Where in the old MSM do you find that function occurring.

I think both Rick and Dick are right. Fox is a big-time, mainstream media outlet, but it at least breaks ranks with everyone else. And I do find it amusing that whatever is reported on Fox is immediately discounted by other media types (Christiane Amanpour is the most egregious example).

I offer this thread for tying Rick's comment to Dick's:

"Bigness" is not a conservative value.

Think about it: big media, big government, big business-- all are problems or potential problems. The conservative tendency is to view all three with a watchful eye. Why? Because (to the conservative mind) the concentration of massive power so often leads to abuses, amorality, and infringement on individual choice and agency.

The old mainstream media is the classic example. That's why, even though I am a devoted Fox News viewer, I watch carefully and warily. It's part of the hard-headed conservative's creed: Don't romanticize large institutions.

An analogy: We have two cats and a dog in my home. I enjoy all three pets, but I don't harbor any illusions about them. I expect the cats to act like cats and the dog (a much higher and nobler animal, in my opinion!) to act like a dog. The cats, as much as I enjoy them, will not come running to greet me when I come home. The dog, in contrast, will come running to me and to try to slobber a little on my (bless her); at the same time, when I accidentally drop a piece of food on the floor, she is going to gobble it up immediately. That's what dogs do.

So when we see big institutions-- General Motors, CBS News, the Department of Health and Human Services, and even Fox News-- we also expect them to act like, well, big institutions. They will be bureaucratic, possibly uncaring, verly likely amoral (unless they are a church or a non-profit with a moral mission). That's what big institutions do.

One exception that comes to mind is the military, which must be big to be effective (just how big is a policy question). But conservatives tend to regard even the military warily, and we should.

In contrast to these behemoth entities, the blogosphere, although vast, is nevertheless made up millions of little democratic pieces, each with its own voice and agency. Therein lies the blogosphere's power. As was amply discussed in the post below and its comments, in the blogosphere barriers to entry are minimal, and a lot of very smart and articulate people have a chance to weigh in on, and even to influence, important debates.

One commenter quoted Hugh Hewitt:
"Bloggers don't need to convince someone to let them try to convince someone."



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have the feeling that Fox "news", not opinion, has had very few publications of "false facts".

In addition, the "fair and balanced" claim, including a conservative view, seems to enrage the PC thought nazis.

Blogs will help in fact checking important stories. MSM, including Fox, better get used to the idea. I wish Fox would start making news by publicizing the mistakes of other agencies. 

Posted by Tom Grey - Liberty Dad

Thursday, March 10, 2005 1:31:00 AM  

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