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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Rich Lowry To Conservatives: Quit Whining About The Media

I'm sure there are a fair number of center-right bloggers out there who might have taken offense to Rich Lowry's piece at NRO yesterday because he's critical of the conservatives who paint the media as some consistently biased boogeyman:

The conservative campaign against the mainstream media has scored notable successes. It exposed Dan Rather’s forged National Guard memo and jumped all over Newsweek’s absurd report of a Koran-flushing incident at Guantanamo Bay. The mainstream media is biased, arrogant, prone to stultifying group-think and much more fallible than its exalted self-image allows it to admit. It also, however, can be right, and this is most confounding to conservatives.

In Iraq, the media’s biases happen to fit the circumstances. Being primed to consider any military conflict a quagmire and another Vietnam is a drawback when covering a successful U.S. military intervention, but not necessarily in Iraq. Most of the pessimistic warnings from the mainstream media have turned out to be right — that the initial invasion would be the easy part, that seeming turning points (the capture of Saddam, the elections, the killing of Zarqawi) were illusory, that the country was dissolving into a civil war.

Partly because he felt it necessary to counteract the pessimism of the media, President Bush accentuated the positive for far too long. Bush allowed himself to be cornered by his media critics. They wanted him to admit mistakes, so for the longest time, he would admit none. They wanted him to fire Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, so for too long he kept him on. They wanted him to abandon “stay the course,” so he stuck to it. In so doing, he eroded his own credibility and delayed making the major strategic readjustment he needed to try to check the downward slide in Iraq.

The “good news” that conservatives have accused the media of not reporting has generally been pretty weak. The Iraqi elections were indeed major accomplishments. But the opening of schools and hospitals is not particularly newsworthy, at least not compared with American casualties and with sectarian attacks meant to bring Iraq down around everyone’s heads in a full-scale civil war. An old conservative chestnut has it that only four of Iraq’s 18 provinces are beset by violence. True, but those provinces include 40 percent of the population, as well as the capital city, where the battle over the country’s future is being waged.

In their distrust of the mainstream media, their defensiveness over President Bush and the war, and their understandable urge to buck up the nation’s will, many conservatives lost touch with reality on Iraq. They thought that they were contributing to our success, but they were only helping to forestall a cold look at conditions there and the change in strategy and tactics that would be dictated by it.

To all the center-right out there, this is a much needed dose of cold water. Yes, in my humble opinion, bloggers do things better, and the reason I say that is because we do it the way the media used to to do. With staunch, solid fact-checking, and backing up our assertions with relevant links. We are our own ombudsman. Now some people may find that arrogant, but if you consider who are critics are--those being our readers--it could be disastrous if we don't watch what we write. Caught in a mistake, or even a lie, could cost us dearly. After all, look at how people have reacted to the media.

People are leaving what my wife coined as the "dead-tree industry" and it's because the bias is so blatant now, they don't even bother to cover it up. Subscriptions at outlets such as the NY and LA Times are down significantly, and they continue to drop. So are the advertising revenues. Imagine if bloggers acted the same way as the MSM outlets. We would lose readers, and for those like Captain Ed, who tipped me off to this story, Hugh Hewitt and a whole host of others, mistakes that cost the MSM it's readers and advertisers can do the same to them. That being, if we act with similar arrogance, and slip-shod work, our readers and advertisers will go elsewhere.

Welcome to the dog-eat-dog world of news reporting.

Lory's right. We paint the MSM up to be this boogeyman of our nightmares, we slam the Hell out of the MSM, but yet we're dependent on them. After all, where do we get our news stories from? We don't have crack reporters going into a war zone. (Actuallly, we do in people like Michael Yon and Bill Roggio, but the work they do is no exclusive to any site but their own. Again, we pick up what they report. The closest thing we have to a blogger news service is Pajamas Media.) Point being, we rely on those we beat on the hardest.

If it bleeds, it leads, is an old axiom in the media business. Lowry states that the opening of schools and hospitals, the signing up of people to join the new Iraqi military and police, and the people celebrating the removal of Saddam Hussein are all news worthy. But that's not what's going on over in Iraq daily. There are attacks. There are bombings. And there are soldiers--both ours and theirs--that are dying. The media is doing it's best to report the war, and while it may seem subpar to quite a few, it is reality. Could they do a better job? You bet they could. Take the case of Jamil Hussein--the AP's vaunted source for a story that still can't be confirmed about a mosque attack, and the burning of six people. CENTCOM dewnies it happened. The AP maintains it did, but can't seem to provide the witness that they spoke with, that being one Capt. Jamil Hussein. What are we to do except call the AP liars until they provide that source? The AP could be right in this instance, and bloggers questioning the veracity of the story could be wrong.

The point that Lowry makes is well-founded. The media isn't some overly biased monster here. Yes, there is a blatant and inherent bias, and their refusal to admit it is what galls us more than anything. They refused to admit a bias when Dan Rather was caught peddling "faux-ny" documents. They refused to admit it when Eason Jordan wouldn't back up his assertions about the US militaty targeting and torturing journalists. They refused to admit it when they wouldn't call John Kerry on the past he was running on for president. And they sure as Hell wouldn't admit it as the NY Times blew classified program after classified program on their front pages. That is what ticked off conservatives, and bloggers, the most. The bias in reporting such events was so clear that we were outraged when the media denied the charge.

Whether we like it or not, the media is here to stay. They may have been taken down a peg or ten in recent years, and maybe that's a good thing. Maybe it'll force them to clean up their act a bit. (No, WE ARE NOT holding our breath.) But we, as conservatives, need to get off this bandwagon of blowing the media off--writing off ALL of their news coverage--as liberally biased. Many outlets do try to do their best. But news reporting is a business. Can they do a better job? Could they adjust how they report things? You bet they could. For the longest time we've agreed with Hugh Hewitt about the LA Times. They don't simply need a new owner. They need a top-to-bottom revamp, and they need to balance their coverage. Bring in a conservative, or two. Add a couple bloggers. BALANCE your coverage. But the media seems to think they know what they're doing. In the meantime, the hard-core numbers don't lie. They are slowly dying industry. But the advent of the Internet has more to do with those numbers on the downslide than their coverage is.

After all, why pay for a newspaper, or cable for that matter, when you can get it all on the 'Net? Well, not all of it. Some articles are still subscription-based, but the majority of them aren't. For that, it's not unheard of to walk down to your favorite bookstroe and pick up ONE issue fo the NY Times for that particular news story. It's a heck of a lot cheaper than doing the times Select crappola on the 'Net. But the media hasn't adjusted to the new medium in the world, which is the Internet. And that's a big factor into their spiralling numbers.

Conservatives should take heart. We have exposed a great deal of bias in the media. To that, the bloggers deserve the hat-tip because without the Internet here, those stories never would have been exposed. But on the flip side, it does us no justice to consistently write off MSM outlets as biased when we still depened on them. That's cutting off your nose to spite your face. For a blogger, it's virtual suicide. For conservatives, it makes us no better than the MSM itself.

Publius II


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