It will come as no surprise, we hope, for our loyal readers that we, like they, are often critical of our colleagues in the media.
But it was with a chuckle this morning that we received a campaign funds solicitation from Ted Criz, running of course for the Republican nomination for president. Cruz, like most of the dozen contestants scampering to keep up with the mob chasing the Grand Old Party’s goldring, is searching for new and different approaches to win money — and votes. And lo and behold! he is now running against “the Mainline Media” as much as against his Republican competitors and, eventually it seems, Hillary Clinton..
We are not sure any more just what that phrase :”mainline media” connotes. But it certainly includes some of our big city slicker publications here in the East and especially one holding up their end in the West.
There was a time in American journalism when we all made the attempt, at least in our news columns, to maintain a certain objectivity. We were supposed to be presenting “both sides of the story”. Of course, it has always been much more difficult than appeared on the surface to our readers, for there are often many more than two sides to an issue. Space and out talent prevented both we and our colleagues performing this miracle.
But the time did come, as the barristers say, when we pretty much abandoned that role.
The late senator and seer Daniel Patrick Moynihan got badly scarred by what he called “the capital press corps” [in those days] when he tried in the Nixon Administration to dissect the problem of poverty in the then Negro, now Afro-American, community. In defending what has come to be generally considered a masterpiece of American sociological writing and the debate over the race issue, Pat also had some things to say about the media.
He had a theory. We are not sure we buy it completely. But it is interesting as a hypothesis to describe the current situation of the mass media – and Cruz’s launch into a battle with it. Moinyhan said, in essence, that what had once been a working class occupation for [then largely] newspapermen had with the growing prosperity of the post-World War II years and the movement to the suburbs, moved to another kind of environment altogether. Now, with their rising living standards, the children of a new elite moved into the old journalists’ shoes – made fashionable and attractive by the increasingly abundant fiction and nonfiction written about it. [Much of it, by the way, far less realistic than Chicago reporter Ben Hecht’s “The Front Page”.]
That meant, in essence, Pat said, that increasingly members of the media mp longer saw themselves as sweaty purveyors of as much of the truth as they could present about the embattled social scene around them. Rather, as members of the new elite to which their income if nothing else entitled them, they saw their role less as “telling it as it is” so much as telling their audiences what they should and should not believe and instructing them how to proceed.
That’s at least one pretty good explanation for why we see some of our colleagues tweaking the facts of their coverage to support a more potent effort to persuade their readers. Perhaps you could charge we are not above that either. True, but we do not make the claim to objectivity and omniscience that some of our older, and should we say, more prestigious media voices do.
If Cruz hangs in, and undoubtedly if he does he will continue his thrashing of that “mainstream media”, we are going to enjoy the ride It’s probably a welcomed addition to the barnyard noises that are bound to increase in the long months before November 2016. And we hope our readers will enjoy the noisy concert as well!