Monday, May 16, 2005

The lethal narcissism of the press

I found the following comment by blogging psychoanalyst Shrinkwrapped on this post by Roger Simon about the Newsweek Koran-flushing fiasco. I was so taken with what Shrinkwrapped wrote that I reproduce it here in full:

I have written before about the special narcissism of the MSM (and the academic elites). They write as if their words are the most important products in the universe, but they also write as if their words have no impact. We are supposed to look with awe and adulation at the brilliance and facility of their manipulation of words; the meaning of their words is actually secondary to the use of the words as a vehicle to evoke our admiration.

In the case of Newsweek, they pass off an explosive story, based on anonymous sourcing, as if it is no big deal, just a small note, not worth much investigation; they have handed the enemy another bullet to use against us in a war that is as much about information as it is about guns. The MSM, with its "sophisticated" relationship to information, has no real clue what they are doing.

I am in agreement with Shrinkwrapped; I do not think Newsweek did this with full awareness of the consequences. With malice towards Bush, his policies, and the military, yes; and probably with an awareness that it would impact negatively on them. But with a greater understanding of the larger and more widespread consequences of their acts? At this point there is, unfortunately, not much evidence for that sort of depth of thinking or breadth of vision among the powers that be at Newsweek.


At 2:53 PM, May 16, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I received a subscription to Newsweek Magazine as an eighth grade graduation gift from my parents in 1961. They knew even then that I was a history and politics junkie. Through high school, college, grad school, marriage and multiple job-related moves they, and later I, kept the subscription going.

A few years ago when cleaning out my parents' estate I found a stack of old Newsweeks covering the Kennedy assassination, the VietNam war years and other events through the early 80's. Of course, I had to drop everything and read through some of them. I was immediately struck by the difference in writing, and by the depth and quality of analysis compared to the Newsweeks I was currently receiving (which more and more seemed to be very "dumbed down" and so filled with pop culture that they were often barely a step up from People Magazine.) Finally, last summer when my subscription expired I somewhat sadly but resignedly let it lapse after 43 years and have not looked back.

In reading about the current Koran imbroglio it has just reinforced that my instincts about the magazine's slow demise were correct, and at least, I don't have to cancel my subscription in protest, now. But that said, I am truly stunned by the amateurish and irresponsible and yes, narcissistic journalism demonstrated in the original Periscope blurb and even more so in the revelations about the lack of sourcing that accompanied the "apology".

What a shame that another once great American institution has fallen....

At 4:48 PM, May 16, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shrinkwrapped had a great point. I see it all the time in academia. But it's more than that. It's like what you said earlier: the fact that they are writing "the truth" is supposed to absolve them from all responsibility. Loose lips may sink ships, but what, you expect the *press* to not publish a story just because it might endanger our troops and put people in harm's way!? Please! What are you, some kind of a *fascist?*

At 6:47 AM, May 17, 2005, Blogger Tom Grey said...

There is a Moral Hazard of a Free Press. I mention it here Iraqis should sue CBS

But this is an ongoing battle in the culture war, which is really a war over Moral Superiority.

As I mention in a post about Kerry's Lie (how many days now? 120 or so?)

Hey Neo- I work for a living! (How can I find the time to read your book on changing minds ... deceptively disguised as mere blog wisdom available in coffee sipping spurts?) Arghh, it's so good.


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