Friday, January 07, 2005


Dan Rather Isn't The Only Partisan Hack

I drove to Detroit today for business, and that usually means lots of flipping through the radio dial. I stumbled across some top-o'-the-hour news, so I paused my use of the Seek button just long enough to hear that commentator Armstrong Williams accepted money from the Department of Education to promote the No Child Left Behind act. You know - the bill that created the largest increase in spending in the history of the DoE that was pushed forth by a Republican White House and approved in a Republican-controlled Congress. More on that towards the end of this post, because I first wish to address the significance behind Mr. William's actions.

First, why'd he accept nearly a quarter-million dollars to push forward the White House's agenda?

Williams said Thursday he understands that critics could find the arrangement
unethical, but "I wanted to do it because it's something I believe in."

Oh, that's nice. I'd think that, as a commentator in a free society, one would advocate all sorts of things that they believe in, especially if they're already getting paid by their publisher or broadcasting company. Shit, this blog is filled with commentary on all sorts of stuff that I believe in, and obviously there's no pay structure involved. So, yea, Mr. Williams had damn well better understand that "critics" might find his arrangement "unethical", and he needs to go a step further and realize for himself that it was unethical before anyone should even think about publishing his work again.

So, why did I feel the need to invoke the name of a tired Old Media slob who couldn't even be bothered to put on an appearance of fairness and accuracy? Because he became the whipping boy for everything that was perceived to be wrong with the mainstream media. The noises of the circle-jerk coming from the AM airwaves the partisan blogs this summer during Rathergate were simply overwhelming, and why? Because it demonstrated the outragous lengths at which the MSM will go to push forward their agenda, and because this convinced everyone involved (especially those in the "blogosphere") just how important of a role they play in providing "balance". Fair enough, but if that's going to happen, then I also want to see the same standard applied to anyone attempted to provide non-mainstream commentary on the basis that the "liberal media just doesn't get it"

I've often wondered if some of those guys on the radio are willing to sell their souls in order to promote the agenda of their prefered party or candidate. It's frankly painful to hear Hannity talk about "how often I critique the President" (certainly less-frequently than you pat yourself on the back for how often you do it), or Limbaugh discussing Michael Jackson's arrest for nearly a week instead of addressing the fact that Congress was passing the biggest increase in social welfare in four decades (the prescription drug plan passed the same week that Jackson found himself in an interview with his local DA). Now we know that they're not only willing to sell their souls, but a price has been established. And what about those bloggers? Big props to Glenn Reynolds who addresses this topic; Power Line has noticably ignored the whole issue, which unfortunately comes as no surprise.

At this point, I see two directions that we can take in establishing media outlets for the 21st century. First, the partisan radio shows and blogs can take their critique of the mainstream media, and start living up to the same standards they expect of Jennings, Brokaw, et al. As much as I'd like to see some basic journalistic standards applied to the radio shows that reach approximately 25% of the country and the blogs that reach who knows how many more, I don't think it's going to happen. The other option is for the radio jocks and the bloggers
to get off their high horses, and apply only the standards to the mainstream media that they wish to apply to themselves. Not going to happen, either. So it's basically going to come down to whatever's the easiest way for the average mouthbreather to obtain their "news".

Now, why was No Child Left Behind passed? Sure, the "neo" part of "neocon" implies a liberal background, but Bush and most of the Republicans in Congress don't really fit the definition. Maybe it was passed to irritate the NEA? Just a guess. We can probably place this one in the "two wrongs don't make a right" category.

EDIT - added the link for Instapundit above. I was thwarted in my attempts to do so last night while crafting this point; turns out that there was a DOS attack taking place on a few right-wing blogs.

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