Monday, August 22, 2005

Rolling back with Rosen and Bay

[Note: I've posted an update to this article here.]

Jay Rosen and Austin Bay have recently posted an interesting exchange of ideas about Bush and the press. You can find it here on Rosen's blog, and here on Austin Bay's blog.

It began with a question Rosen, a professor of journalism at NYU and a press critic and reviewer, posed to Bay: whether the Bush administration is essentially stonewalling the press (Rosen calls the process "rollback") by giving it as little information and cooperation as possible; and furthermore, if so, whether this policy is wise or necessary.

Austin Bay answers in his usual insightful, straightforward, and thorough manner, and then Rosen responds to Bay.

I'm not going to enter into a discussion of the issues myself, since they've been well-aired by both Bay and Rosen, and in the voluminous comments on both blogs. Instead, I want to discuss Rosen's reaction to the discussion that ensued in the comments section of his own blog.

Many of the commenters there were about as fed up with the MSM as any you'll find anywhere, the consensus being that whatever "rollback" has occurred on Bush's part was a justifiable reaction to press bias and distortion. Here is Rosen's response:

This is depressing. Austin and I had hoped that perhaps we'd move the dialogue a tiny bit with this.

I'll let it go for a day or so, and see if anything changes. If not, PressThink will go on full vacation mode, and comments will shut down. Cheers, everyone.

Understand that the comments section on the thread had not degenerated into the sort of overwhelmingly vicious nastiness that sometimes occurs on so many blogs. Nor was it filled with bad language or racial insults or spambots any of the usual reasons bloggers might have for deleting comments; not at all. In fact, in general, the tone was unusually refined--at least, as blog comments sections go--rather than lowdown and dirty. Yes, some of the comments may have overstated the case (on either side), and the comments were certainly polarized. But that's hardly remarkable in a comments section; in fact, it is to be expected. On the other hand, many of the commenters made some excellent points. And yes, many accused the press of bias, but this would hardly seem to be off-topic in the discussion at hand, whether or not Rosen disagrees with the accusation.

I'm not exactly inexperienced in this arena; after all, I moderate a comments section myself that features a certain amount of lively argument, and plenty of commenters with whom I disagree. Rosen's response on his blog made me wonder what might move me to close down comments on a thread. Suffice to say it would have to be something a great deal worse than what Jay was experiencing (and please, commenters, don't take that as a challenge!).

It's Rosen's blog, so he of course is allowed to do whatever he wants with his comments section, including closing it down, either in a single thread or completely (so far, by the way, he has allowed the comments to remain open).

From later remarks Rosen made on the same thread, it appears that he is upset with the comments to the post in question because he thinks the claims and accusations of press bias are too extreme. But even if that were true, would the proper remedy be to shut comments off? Wouldn't it be to refute them himself--or to let other commenters refute them--with facts, argument, and logic?

I found Rosen's threat to close down comments disturbing, especially in someone who is dedicated--as I believe he would say he is--to the free and open exchange of ideas. I've read Rosen with interest every now and then, and I must say I've never seen this particular side of him before. He's always seemed relatively evenhanded to me--although he is upfront about his own liberal orientation--and he is certainly not above criticizing the press himself (remember, his bio bills him as a "press critic"). So something about this thread seems to have pressed his buttons--"big time," as Dick Cheney would say.

I hope I'm not being too harsh in stating that Rosen's reaction reminded me of some of my grade school teachers who would open a topic up for discussion and then, if the responses weren't to their liking for whatever reason, would purse their lips and tap their feet in exasperation, waiting for the right answer--the one that agreed with their own point of view.

What is most strange about this reaction of Rosen's is that his post contains a critique of the Bush administration for supposedly shutting off the flow of information to the press in retaliation for what it perceives as press bias against it. But in the very same thread Rosen threatens to close his own comments section for engaging in free speech that doesn't quite suit him, apparently because it doesn't go in the direction in which he wants it to go. There's a certain fearful symmetry there.


At 1:26 PM, August 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes you're just too tired to hold up your end of the argument. I shut down some discussion in a post a week before the election because I was too tired of the same talking points getting thrown at each other. Even deleted a couple of comments that tried to respond to a frozen thread (LJ lets comments branch in threads, and a thread can be "frozen" to prevent further replies). So Rosen may just be tired out, especially if he's getting ready for a vacation, rather than wanting to impose a general ban.

At 1:37 PM, August 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just remember one thing - Rosen is a college professor. He is god. He sets the agenda. He does all the talking. If you disagree, your grade is in peril.

At 1:47 PM, August 22, 2005, Blogger Rick Ballard said...

I'll second Karl on this one. Prof. Rosen has heard every bias argument so many times that seeing them again must cause nausea. It might have been helpful if he and Prof. Bay had framed the discussion as a debate question rather than as an open "discussion". I can also understand Prof. Rosen's decision not to do so. Debates require a moderator at some point and this subject pushes a lot of buttons.

President Bush established his parameters for dealing with the press a very long time ago. While both Prof. Bay and Prof. Rosen find it objectionable they are in the position of Canute ordering the tide to cease and desist. When President Bush told the reporter "you don't speak for the American people" the MSM should have listened a bit more closely.

He didn't need them to be elected twice and he sure doesn't need them to govern. Wishing it were otherwise, on both the good professors parts, will not make it so.

Prof. Rosen will be dealing with students again soon. I doubt that he is looking forward to the encounter with the enthusiasm that he had five years ago. With good reason.

At 2:00 PM, August 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand that Rosen may indeed be tired of reading the "same old, same old." But that goes with the territory of having a comments section, IMHO.

Unless someone is abusing the privilege of comments, or they are degenerating dramatically to racial slurs or foul language, I think that threatening to shut them down is absolutely the wrong way to go. And it is particularly ironic to me that Rosen threatened to do so in a thread whose purpose was to discuss charges of stifling the exchange of information.

How could Rosen have thought, even for moment, that the question he posed would not result in comments about press bias? It was really an open invitation for readers to do so, since the question of press bias is relevant to the argument--after all, it's one of the main reasons for the purported "rollback" in the first place.

At 2:38 PM, August 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But the dicussion really wasn't about press bias - Rosen stipulated that the press is hostile to the administration off the bat. The question he was hoping to address was whether the administration's tactic of "starving the beast" was well advised or not.

If you stipulate that the press is fundamentally hostile to the administration it is reasonable (if perhaps a little optimistic) to hope that comments would not be about whether the press is biased or not.

And it's a very important question. How should any government that is in the middle of fighting a critically important war handle a hostile press?

At 3:02 PM, August 22, 2005, Blogger flenser said...

The comments by Rosen, Lovelady and other press defenders were interesting; insofar as they explicitly voice the view that they, as "press professionals" deserved to have their voices listened to and be given a respectful hearing. They contrasted this to the anonymous commenters, whose very existence seemed to enrage them.

They seem not to have made the transition to the online world yet, where your resume is less important then your ability to make clear and convincing points.

They also grasped at Bay’s assertion that the press could play a useful role in the war as validating their conception of themselves as being important players on the national and international stage.

At 3:55 PM, August 22, 2005, Blogger knox said...

Press bias is at the core of any discussion about the press and Bush. Rosen's disgust and obvious intolerance of the subject is weird considering the media is his area of expertise.

Anyway: I agree that for practical reasons, the Bush adminstration might attempt to engage more fully with the press. But at the same time, I can understand the urge to simply withdraw. There's all sorts of significant, encouraging developments from Iraq and other countries that the media consistently downplays or ignores.

For example, if Syria's withdraw from Lebanon--which can be partially attributed to the removal of Saddam's regime--gets short shrift from the MSM, then how is an extra press conference going to make a difference? I don't blame the Bush admin. for feeling that it's a fruitless endeavor, if indeed they do.

At 3:57 PM, August 22, 2005, Blogger Charlie Martin said...

Pretty early on, I noted as pathognomonic the way in which the only thing to which Jay responded in Austin's post was the place where Austin said Bush might not be serving his own purposes, leaving out the points Austin made about why Bush wasn't unreasonable in doing so.

By the time Jay closed the thread saying he was ashamed to have started the duiscussion, conservatives who perceive a bias are called "bully boys" and Steve Lovelady had, to my eyes, whole-heartedly endored calling people who complained about Eason Jordan a "lynch mob", while complaining about the name-calling.

It actually cleared up something rather effectively: I think Jay, or Lovelady, literally cannot see that their critics might have some insight.

I don't know what that kind of hysterical blindness is called technically, but I'm pretty sure its pathological.

At 4:28 PM, August 22, 2005, Blogger Captain Wrath said...


Thank you for posting on this, because after reading Rosen last post, I was fuming at the attitude, particularly since I felt that part of it was directed toward me. I am glad to see that you too found the response curious at best, and disappointing at worst.

If you read the exchanges I had with Lovelady, I was certainly acerbic with him, and even got obnoxious, but I felt the guy was particularly condescending from the start. I met his attitude with attitude, but I felt I at least kept trying to return to my original point.

I also felt that there an incredibly arrogant bias even in that thread by some of them, as other commentators pointed out. No, I don't fell it, I know it, just based on what was written.

But look, I really am a reasonable guy. I am strong in my convictions, but I also know I am human, so maybe I went a little over the top.

I have read your work, and I really respect you. If you think I went over the line, or poisoned the argument somehow, I will accept that, and even apologize to Rosen.

Bottom line, while I feel Rosen is being unreasonable, I also feel bad because I admire Austin Bay, and I would feel terrible if somehow this reflected badly on him. I'm just looking for an objective perspective at it, because right now I am annoyed, so I might not be the best judge.

At 5:25 PM, August 22, 2005, Blogger Promethea said...

I read the entire Rosen thread, and I agree with your analogy (metaphor?) that Rosen isn't used to people sticking to their own opinions. He's the teacher trying to get the "students" to follow his lead. He's also trapped in the groupthink of his social circle.

There are a lot of reasons why I believe the MSM is helping terrorists--the main ones are (1) no WMD in Iraq, (2) Kerry's unbelievably bad record and the sliming of the Swiftvets, (3) Dan Rather and fake memo, (4) almost no reporting on Muslim views on dhimmitude and jihad, (5) the daily death countdown, Cindy Sheehan circus, and lack of discussion of progress in the war. I was surprised Rosen couldn't see this.

At 7:18 PM, August 22, 2005, Blogger Rick Ballard said...


You might want to update with Prof. Rosen's final comment. Coupling it with your initial premise (and his initial threat) I would say that I was mistaken in my initial assumption.

He and Lovelady are living some parsecs distant from the rest of us.

At 9:08 PM, August 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To nittypig: stipulating that the press is hostile to Bush is quite separate from stipulating that it is biased. Hostility can be either reasonable or unreasonable, and does not necessarily have anything to do with bias. So stipulating hostility on the part of the press would not necessarily be thought to cut off discussion of whether the press is biased.

I agree with you that the question of how a government should deal with a hostile (or, for that matter, a biased) press is an important one. But the answer might differ depending on whether the press is legitimately hostile (for good cause) or whether it is biased (hopelessly or otherwise). Thus, the question of bias remains germane.

To Rick Ballard:

Thank you so much for pointing out the truly astonishing last post of Rosen's in the thread (actually, the last post of anyone's, since he has closed the comments). I am going to mull that one over and hope to have something to say on the matter soon.

At 9:17 PM, August 22, 2005, Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

I also had the impression that Rosen wanted to argue against certain premises and was somewhat angry that his disputants wouldn't oblige him by saying their lines. The arguments they did bring forth gave more trouble.

I am familiar with arguing in my own head and decimating my opposition. It seldom works that way in practice. I agree that they just don't understand the argument presented -- they keep answering a related, but different argument.

I would question the premise that there is a rollback. Evidence: compared to what president?

At 9:20 PM, August 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I confess I haven't read through the Rosen-Bay exchanges. However, I have had many discussions in person and online with liberal/leftist friends/associates and it's a familiar phenomenon.

Although they believe down to their toes that they are broad-minded and tolerant, when they find their positions seriously challenged, their response is usually to shut the discussion down and/or resort to ad hominems.

I've seen this over and over again.

At 9:22 PM, August 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That last post was terrible, it's like the kid who says "It's my ball and I'm going home, game over".

I knew very few college professors who didn't mind thier ideas challenged. In the humanaties I knew two (I went through 7 years of undergrad - about 5 different majors before I settled down, I later worked in an academic job where we worked with professors also). Even in the technical field (ended up in computer science) there were few, though the university I went too that department was pretty good about it.

I remember being asked how a poem made me fell, then told I was wrong I feel something else. Well, I think I know the difference between "happy" and "sad" and, being quite rational and knowing the difference, I am able to tell you how it makes me feel. Now, if they had asked "What does the author want you to feel", that's different. But then, even when the author himself has told his reasoning behind it they will typically go with thier own idea as gospel.

Add in that in an academic environment you are a succes if you get published it makes it even worse. When we worked with the profs most of them stopped work after the design phase, the rest being "implementation details" and it's already proven. Several times we implemented something and found out some of our assumptions were not correct. At least in a technical field that is repeatable and provable, but they never seemed to learn.

And, lastly, I know some professors who not only are not like this, but are almost maddingly obsessed with results and wanting people to challenge them. They also always tended to be the better teachers (as far as my learning goes, the others I could get a better grade if I figured out what idea the prof wanted, the latter required you to be logical and make sense even if you agreed with them) and produce better software.

I suspect that he is in a "diverse" situtation - some only just really like the media and think it is great, others elevate it to a religion. Much like our english department was diverse, there was four whites, one black, and two chinese - all but one were carbon copy thinkers (well, one was extreme left and the others were just far left). And that one that wasn't, I have no idea what she believed - she made you back up any idea you had and failed you if you did not.

At 9:42 PM, August 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are remined, on Rosen's site, that it was Lovelady who characterized those wanting Eason Jordan to back up his slanders about the killing of reporters as "salivating morons".

It's an interesting point. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with asking for backup when somebody makes a surprising statement.

But. We all knew Jordan was lying like a rug. Suppose we stipulated that demanding back-up was done with malice aforethought to show him as a liar. Is that being a big meanie?

But, anyway, finding that Lovelady has that attitude means something.

At 11:04 PM, August 22, 2005, Blogger BRUISER said...





At 11:24 PM, August 22, 2005, Blogger ljmcinnis said...

Neo- neo, I read ALL the comments at Rosen's site including your lucid (as usual) remarks and was astonished by Jay's final comments.

His "embarrassment" and pompous, narrow view of "education" further confirms my stereotype of small, closed minded, egocentric, professors prevalent in higher education. Obviously if you disagree with the professor you are unworthy to comment. Shame on everyone who dared and was part of the "four day pathetic spectacle" he announced.

All this coming from a person who makes his living as a professor (and chair) at NYU in journalism. Just think, this guy "has been a leading figure in the reform movement known as 'public journalism', which calls on the press to take a more active role in strengthening citizenship,improving public debate, and reviving public life."

Yeah right! He behaves as if he has been locked up in the ivory towers too long and reality doesn't suit him.

As interesting as the topic was, I will NOT be revisiting Mr. Rosen's site again until he is able to act like a grownup and truly engage in the "public debate" he supposedly advocates.

At 1:09 AM, August 23, 2005, Blogger neuroconservative said...


Once again, I agree with you not only in substance but in spirit/tone. I have gone back and re-read the thread several times tonight, and remain flabbergasted. I have the feeling that this may become a long-remembered milestone in MSM/blog relations. My detailed comments can be found here.

I also find it ironic that you've been hit by an especially malicious troll (spambot?) tonight. Bruiser? Indeed.

At 6:47 AM, August 23, 2005, Blogger goesh said...

Critical discussion is what makes a Blog. The site meter here reads 114K+, a good sign of slow but steady growth. I'm sure it takes considerable work to run a decent Blog (saloon?) and I like the standard of deleting racial slurs, strong profanity and harsh, personal attacks by any respondent.
Some editors make note as to why a response has been deleted.

At 7:26 AM, August 23, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"To Daniel Conover:

Bias can be (and often is) unconscious. So the vast majority of press bias would not necessarily have anything to do with a conspiracy, and those who exhibit it would not necessarily be aware of it (this of course is true whether the bias be on the left or the right)."

I am convinced that there is no conscious conspiracy. Everybody is simply on the same page. The top people employed by the MSM perceive themselves as dispassionately objective, fair, and above the fray. Alas, most of them are “moderates” who socialize with others far more liberal then themselves. That’s it in a nutshell. Imagine being Dan Rather or Barbara Walters and consistently hearing that you’re too soft on President Bush and the Republicans!

At 8:24 AM, August 23, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm also pretty stunned by Rosen's last post. It seems quite out of character for Rosen, whose blog I do like. In his defense, as he pointed out there was a fair amount of hyperbole, but I saw nothing that was too offensive.

And it's clear I was wrong in my initial post. I would like to see a reasoned discussion of how an administration that is literally leading the nation in a life and death stuggle should handle a fundamentally hostile press. And ultimately I'd be more interested in the utilitarian question - regardless of whether that hostility is earned or not how should the press be treated to advance the goal of winning the war. Yes that ducks the question of whether the administration is justified in treating the press as it does, but without ducking that question I can't see how you can get a meaningful contribution from liberals and press honchos.

Ultimately this is Bay's point - the administration has every possible reason to distrust the press and is therefore fully justified in (per Bay) marginalizing it. But he's saying that even though this is fully justified it's tactically unwise. I think that's a very important point, whether he's right or not. The discussion on the blog wasn't about this point at all.

I tend to think that was we call press bias is really more sympton than disease - it's a reflection of bigger problems in the press. I thought that Rosen tended to agree with this viewpoint - especially after what he wrote on Rathergate.

So it's looks like I've been projecting my views on Rosen. He asserts that all views of press bias are propoganda ("the opposite of education"). He tars all commenters with the brush of the most extreme ("the press is a fifth column, the press desires a U.S. defeat, the press supports the enemy, the press will do absolutely anything to 'get' Bush"). Breathtaking.

At 8:25 AM, August 23, 2005, Blogger Brad said...

I too am astonished by the last comment in the Rosen thread, not by the nature of the comment, but by the honesty he displayed (including the childish “take my ball and go home” attitude that someone noted). It is truly rare for someone to so clearly demonstrate the complete lack of connection to the worldview of others; usually there is an element of décor to disguise it. It suggests that the disconnect is fundamental: often we think of differences of opinion as resulting from separate examinations of a problem that yield different conclusions, but this is more basic. I would argue that in this case, and many more, it is not a matter of punching different numbers (variables) into an equation and arriving at different results, the problem is that the equation used by those with whom Rosen disagrees does not exist in his worldview. There can be no parallel analyses. His final statement, “breathe some truth,” does not mean get your facts (variables) straight; it means, “adopt my equation.” In Rosen’s analysis of the problem (using his equation), there is no combination of variables that equals media bias; therefore, those who make such a claim must be delusional, “…with their victim's mentality raging at their own abstractions....”

At 9:12 AM, August 23, 2005, Blogger Tom Grey said...

Can I suggest, Neo-neo, that Jay Rosen has NOT read your fine "A Mind is a Difficult Thing to Change."

Jay supported the anti-War policy of "Out Now" in Vietnam. He refuses to accept any responsibility for the results.

Via Marc Cooper I was referenced to (moonbat?) Leftist Juan Cole on Iraq:
"If there is a civil war now that kills a million people, with ethnic cleansing and millions of displaced persons, it will be our fault, or at least the fault of the 75% of Americans who supported the war."

I'm surprised to see something I agree with so much -- but the same logic holds for Vietnam, where there WAS over 2 million folk murdered, and it was (partly) the fault of the USA when we stopped fighting evil commies. The policy the press supported.

I don't think Jay read your fine referenced Vietnam Redux article either.

Jay "knows" he's right, but the logic and the facts don't support his position. He wants the press "to make a difference" -- and to be "neutral, impartial, just the facts" observers. Usually not possible.

Jay and Steve L also avoid my very pointed "measuring" the effect of the press. Minimum, Maximum, or neutral number of US soldiers lives. Jay refuses to accept the existence of the Moral Hazard of a Free Press -- that more US soldiers will die than if the press was merely "Public Relations for Bush" (an idea John Cole complained about on an earlier thread).

Even more US soldiers die if the press is PR against Bush (almost= PR in favor of terrorists). That's closer to what many Reps on Jay's thread think the press is now doing.

I smilingly flatter myself that I'm helping to drive Leftist Mr. Rosen "crazy", suffering cognitive dissonance -- in need of really questioning why he believes what he believes. Based on what facts and values.

At 10:34 AM, August 23, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm very glad to see that I wasn't the only one reading the comment thread with such interest.

I though the comment thread was a smashing success in many ways - which is why Rosen needed it shut down. More and more, the more light that gets shined on "journalism", the more the journalists get upset.

Transparancy for thee, not for me. And certainly, there's absolutely no bias. Just ask Rosen or Lovelady (one wonders if he's yet apologised to Yost for his insulting "unemployment" comment?)


At 11:36 AM, August 23, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom Grey: "Jay "knows" he's right, but the logic and the facts don't support his position. He wants the press "to make a difference" -- and to be "neutral, impartial, just the facts" observers. Usually not possible."

I think you're misstating his position. Here, in his words, is what he thinks about "making a difference" and being "impartial"

"Similarly, “making a difference” was never a good enough standard for teaching or doing journalism. It was a lazy idea, the press putting one over on itself. For the liberal journalists and professors who were the believers in make-a-difference journalism were babied by their profession, and their J-school training, which allowed them to believe in agenda-less journalism at the same time.

And in fact, they wanted the innocence (we do just the facts journalism) and the power (we do make a difference journalism) but this could never be. We in the J-schools failed to catch that. The people on a mission never got around to justifying their mission in the language of democratic politics. They talked about it as a neutral public service instead, but speaking truth to power isn’t neutral, and making a difference isn’t just a service to others. We in the J-schools didn’t do well with that, either."

(this is on the post right after the one he shut down)

You can see that he's clearly on the side of the 'make a difference' rather than the 'impartial' side. But he sees that it's a choice. I personnaly think he's right - we need multiple voices with mulitple point of views. No one is without bias - let's have all reporters (and blogs for that matter) be clear about their agenda and have the people decide.

At 11:52 AM, August 23, 2005, Blogger knox said...

I have no problem with reporters being up front with their bias and presenting the news accordingly. Indeeed, this would be my preference! Unfortunately the problem with agenda-driven news, or "make a difference" journalism, as it exists now, is that those on the left only see their point of view as legitimate. And they are running the show. As a result, the MSM sees reporting good news from the front as mere propaganda for the administration, and we don't see much of it.

I agree with others here that no liberal conspiracy exists in the MSM--it's enough that the vast majority of journalists are liberal and have been educated in our very liberal journalism schools. Rosen seems to be at least somewhat in denial as to the extent that this corrupts the news.

At 12:46 PM, August 23, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I'm embarrassed that this thread appeared at my weblog. I'm embarrassed that something I wrote and edited was the occasion for it. I embarrassed that the letters "edu" appear in the Web address at the top of this page, since most of this is the opposite of education. I'm embarrassed for having entertained, even for a second, the notion that Austin Bay, a Bush supporter and war veteran, might get a hearing for some of his warnings from those who agree with him on most things.

And I've had enough of anonymous tough guys with their victim's mentality raging at their own abstractions...

Those who wish to continue can head over to Austin's thread, where the story is pretty much the same. But four days of this pathetic spectacle is enough for me. Thread closed. My advice: Go home to your wives and children, and breathe some truth.

While it is clear Rosen wanted some particular results from his efforts in posting the discussion between him and Austin, one wonders why Rosen gave no... "hints" while the discussion was ongoing.

Hints could be anything from, and this is from the beginning of the comments to the end...

Shut the hell up, people, don't talk about X or Y

That's certainly in his rights, if he wants people to discuss something, he should say so.

The whole PURPOSE of this thread is X, Y, and Z, not F and U.

Maybe if he wants us to understand his viewpoint, he should clarify just what his intentions were all along.

And that is probably the great annoyance many people, who either contributed to that comments section or read it entirely, feels.

I feel, and think, that his annoyance is not understandable because Rosen did not make it understandable. Since he did a little "rollback" on the commentators on his comment section. Withheld crucial information, and simply "un-whatchamacall it moderated" the comments section, and when the end result was not to his liking, he said "Forget this".

No wonder he is embarassed. He knows he has to close down a comment section because his own personal biases won't allow him to communicate his own personal biases so that his own commentators could talk about the things he wanted them to talk about instead of the things he felt was pedantic or juvenile.

Captain Wrath,

I did see the initial comments to you concerning his condescending tone and insulting word usage. Even though I was not personally involved in the discussion, that was clearly a violation of common decency, to such an extent that it angered me. And I wasn't even involved.

If I had to grade that thread, I would give high marks to most of the conservative media bias exists and matters group. Including Simon, even though he might not be originally conservative, and you along with Antimedia, and Turncoat.

Because while the opposition always ended their remarks with some snarky comments about the character, stylistic choices, or what not of you guys, you took it in stride and tried to steer the conversation to some safer waters.

Normal people, who are usually polite in person, seem to become crazy out of control ideologues on the internet. And I've had personal experience with that phenomenon.

I do not know what Rosen's personal stance is, nor his philosophical imperative, and that's primarily because he doesn't talk himself or his views. He talks about things from his view, not about his view, which is sort of the problem. Lack of introspection and communication.

But still, it reminds me of the debate between Hugh Hewitt and those who defended Tancredo. Otherwise normal and reasonable people, get unreasonable when their own biases and preconceptions control their thinking. And this can happen to anyone, good or bad.

As to the problem of Bush, I have come to the conclusion that Bush is terrible at PR. Manipulation of information, ability to spin events, and so on. Normally, you would want a politician to not be good at telling lies, but in a war, having a lying Roosevelt might not be personally palatable, but if that is the price of victory then that is the price of victory.

It remains to be seen whether we will win or lose this war because Bush avoids the media and avoids being corrupted by the lying, distorting, propaganda centered actions anyone dealing with the media has to committ.

Because if Bush stops his whatever Rollback strategy, then there is only two conclusions.

Either Bush succedes and the media becomes his manipulated plaything, and Bush in effect makes the media into the Ministry of Truth, then does it really matter if we win the War on Terror by giving government the single tool they need to perpetuate their power without voter confidence?

Propaganda has kept the black population in Democratic hands, for a very long time now. Do not underestimate the long term, socio-political consequences of giving the government, any of the branches, the tools to manipulate and control information.

The second scenario is that Bush loses the war against the media, and having taken the eye off the terrorism ball in favor of molding PR, the War on Terror goes slowly or badly.

Austen is indeed in the Unreality Trap. He is stuck between recognizing that choice 1, Rollback is justified, and Choice 2, that rollback is not as effective as co-opting the media. The problems he faces is that both choices are not satisfactory. Choice 1 is not effective, but you can do it easily. Choice 2 is more effective, but it isn't easy to do. And has unintended consequences in the future.

So you're probably left with the wait and see approach, wait till New Media ascends, then ditch Choice 1 (rollback) for Choice 2(co-option).

At 3:13 AM, August 24, 2005, Blogger Tom Grey said...

Nittypig: you agree with me that Jay "wants" the press to be honestly on their mission.

But it's clear to me, without specific quotes, he also wants some "professional journalist" superiority based on impartiality.

He knows, rationally, he can't have both. But he wants them (feelings).

At 8:06 AM, August 24, 2005, Blogger M. Simon said...

If I had to guess what most bothered Jay it was the consensus on the right that the MSM no longer matters.

I don't think, given how the topic was framed, that that answer was what he was looking for.

I think that what he wanted was a prescription of how the press could be important again.

Funny thing about that thread was that the lefties had no answer either, except to say: the press matters and is doing a good job.

Note that I presented a number of cases where the press left, right, or center was not asking good questions.

In a private e-mail Steve Lovelady did agree with that premise. It is not just bias. It is the poor quality of the thinking.

At 8:10 AM, August 24, 2005, Blogger Captain Wrath said...


Thanks for the feedback. Like I said, I certainly felt I had been treated shoddily by Lovelady, and had right to take offense. My only concern was that in my attempt to drive home my point, I can get very caustic. Not that it is the same thing as being nasty or using vitriol. I think being caustic, and sarcastic, has its place. I was just worried that I was allowing myself to get dragged down by Lovelady.

I have since decided Rosen does not merit apologies from me. I reread parts of the thread, and still don't see justification for his actions, just more of the hubris people on the thread were trying to combat.

I agree with you, sadly, about Bush. Last year I was telling my wife that Bush and the administration is maddeningly unable to defend himself and his the issues, EVEN WHEN THE FACTS ARE ON HIS SIDE. It has little to do with the fact that he is not as articulate as many other pols. That can be endearing or at least can make him seem down to earth. Its the inability to=== refute some of the most basic distortions thrown at him that drives me crazy.

What so much more crazy about it is at times the administration sometimes seems so savvy in some instances, and so bumbling at others.

At 6:15 PM, August 24, 2005, Blogger Tom Grey said...

I posted on the new open thread at PressThink a subversive thought.

By keeping the MSM bias, the Reps remain "victim" underdogs, at least in the people vs Big "Branch 4" of gov't.

At 4:48 PM, August 25, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

What so much more crazy about it is at times the administration sometimes seems so savvy in some instances, and so bumbling at others.

In one of the weirdest coincidences in history, Bush who campaigned as a domestic policies expert, got pushed into a war game scenario where he was the defender of the American people and realized that this was what he was destined to do.

You know that show, Rescue Me? That firefighter that is inept and unable to live civilian life, yet when danger is there he acts perfectly in sync with survival? That's like Bush. He is super cool when it comes to war and killing people, but when it comes to the politics of war and killing and what not, he flunks.

That means that the military is given more or less a free reign, but when they need "political support" like nuking Iran as a deterent to NK or something like a naval blockade to break the will of the North Koreans, they don't get nothing.

That means that while Bush listens to the military, and gives them everything they ask for, Bush does not have the political intiative or the political ingenuity to come up with political actions that will help the war on terror.

If you listen to his speeches to the military and his speeches to the American people, it is so freaking different that it might as well be two different people.

The things he says to the Special Forces, that they are the worst nightmare of our enemies, and that while most people do not know about their accomplishments, the President (he) does know.

That is the kind of the raw rah morale boosting comment he needs to give to us civilians. But he treats civilians like we're a different kind of human than the military, when both civilians and the military need High Morale.

There is no real difference, Bush doesn't recognize that.

He doesn't talk about Americans and how we are at our best when challenged, nor does he talk about the exceptionalism of America, that we do things that other people neither can or wants to do.

Americans would gladly do the jobs illegal immigrants want, the fact is that since the immigrants will accept far less wages, Americans can't support themselves on those jobs.

Bush does not... articulate American exceptionalism, while at the same time articulating American Military prowess and supremacy.

Bush was born to be a military war president, not a domestic politician. The problem was, he was bred, raised, and had all the expectations of "being" a domestic policitian who haggles and compromises over social security.

But his real aptitude laid in war, in iron will contests. Unfortunately, he wasn't trained, nor did he train himself, in warfare and maintaining PR with civilians in war. He is a natural with the military, because the military already knows the facts and doesn't need it be articulated. They just need to see the confidence the CINC has in them, and the sheer willpower of the CINC in finishing the conflict that he put the military in.

Civilians, like us, need more than that. We need a reason, we need leadership. We aren't military privates, we just can't hear "we're going to finish the mission, and that's it" without knowing WHY or HOW.

Clinton would have been a great wartime President, if he had Bush's spine and philosophy core. Bush would have been a great domestic and wartime President if he had Clinton's PR prowess.

But currently, Bush is only "above average". And that is the reason why many Americans are dissatisfied with his leadership in the War on Terror.

We want to see hardball, we want our SFs to kidnap mullahs in Iran and strap them to an ICBM to a deserted spot in Iraq, we want to assassinate Chavez, he annoys us, we want to take out Castro, he annoys us too, and we owe him for the Cuban Missile Crisis as well.

We want to see talk about how the terroists made the worst mistake in 2,000 years when they awoke the American giant, the American power that is unrivaled in the entire history of this world. We want to HEAR, and SEE our leader believing in "us", because if he doesn't believe in the power of the American people, the strength of the American people, if we don't HEAR that, then what reason would we have to give him our support, our power?

None of those political actions will occur without leadership, but since none of those actions occurs, deep resentment and dissatisfaction in the Jacksonian part of American rises. People like me, an immigrant, would have already done a naval blockade of Syria and Iran, and assassinated most of the people we could get our hands on in those countries.

We only need to make someone an example, and if Iraq wasn't a good enough example, we'll jst make another country an example, except this time without the mercy. And that's the whole point, if we are overstretched, we must PUSH and ATTACK, not get on the defense and stretch ourselves to infinity.

But Bush acts as if defense is OKAY politically, while Offense is necessary militaristically.

That is so wrong and inconsistent.

Listen to Arnold Schwarzenegger's speech at the Republican Convention of 2004. Then see it in a "war setting" on the eve of 9/11, on the aircraft carrier after the invasion of Baghdad, and now after the elections in Iraq had been held. BIG difference, I predict compared to Bush. Arnold knows how to jazz up the patriotism, Bush doesn't. At least not on a national scale.

The reason? Simple, Arnold knows how to manipulate cameras, he started in Hollywood. Bush started in business, where people around him were already competent.

One of the common things I hear is that Bush is a divider, not a uniter. What I don't understand is why does the Left want a fascist, Bush, to unite the country... Then again, I never did understand Left-Logic.

I want Bush to be a uniter, but I'm a Jacksonian-Republican, a defender of Tancredo. "we like nukes"

And that's no joke.


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