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April 25, 2017

The Media Bubble

Mollie Hemingway has written a new Encounter Broadside ("Broadside" being the imprint name for long essays about a subject) called Trump vs. the Media. She talks about the media bubble and daily social media freakouts with Ben Domenech.

The book was released early today (like 12am or thereabouts) and should be available on Amazon now. In the interview, starting around 11:30, she talks about the media's groupthink and open coordination with the Clinton campaign, citing the media's embargo of pre-briefed details about Fat Whore Miss Universe until Hillary had initiated the attack line herself in a debate.

At 28:30, she gets into something particularly fascinating to me: the groupthink and virtue signalling of reporters on Twitter, what Sean Davis calls the #BlueCheckmarkMafia who freak out virtually every morning about the Outrage of the Day. She notes that she planned to watch their twitter accounts to find the final proof of bias, but did not expect them to continue showing off how biased they were -- eventually, she expected they would figure out "that this doesn't make them look good."

So she thought this would be a brief opportunity.

But they never stopped. In fact, they just got worse and worse.

She concludes that maintaining credibility with other progressives, especially other progressive media-types, is more valuable to them than credibility with the public at large.

Meanwhile, Politico has a good story arguing that Hell Yes, the "media bubble" is real and it is spectacular.

He looks to where the media cohort is living to prove his point. Not only do almost all media people live in blue states, and blue counties in the blue states, but they tend to live in the bluest counties of blue states. Thus, they have little diversity in background, and upon relocating to the Bluest of All Blues, they have next-to-zero diversity in the thoughts and modes of life in their current everyday lives.

He suggests that this is due to the rise of the internet, strangely enough. The internet was supposed to bring about diversity of thought in the media, but it's had the opposite effect. The internet is destroying the newspaper industry -- no problem so far on that!

But the problem is that while the Bluest of All Blue big media was always liberal, it was also fed (a bit) by reporters hired from small papers in the interior of the country. So it had some diversity of background and political ethos.

But the industry has faced big cutbacks and many small local papers have closed up shop. The big media papers have cut staff too.

So anyone who wants to aspire to work in media really sort of has to be a progressive to have a shot at a long career in an increasingly progressive industry.

Furthermore, even worse, internet media hires now exceed traditional media hires.

You'd think this is where the diversity the internet promised would come in -- but no, internet media employees live almost exclusively in the Bluest of All Blue bubble cities -- even less diversity of zip code than the old media.

And let me add something to that: given that with the internet you can do your job of Media Reporter from practically anywhere (and most internet media people are not doing first-hand reporting, so they don't have to be in DC or NY or wherever), and given that "flyover states" and smaller cities in those states are much, much cheaper than NYC or DC or LA, you'd think that some of these internet media companies would set up shop in, say, Lincoln, Nebraska or Boise, Idaho.

No such luck.

And then ask yourself why -- you can make more money and own more property and have a richer lifestyle on the same level of income in one of the non-capital cities in the US. Why are almost all internet media companies, then, located in the exact same places as the old media?

Answer: Because progressives want to live in big, blue cities. It makes no financial sense, but it makes perfect cultural sense, because they assign a huge premium to the advantage of living in massive clusters of their fellow progressives, with whom they can chat about all the art installations and edgy off-Broadway plays they intend to check out some time but never do because they're always locked indoors watching Girls and Orange Is The New Black.

(Which by the way are on offer in Boise and Lincoln as well.)

At any rate, I assume that the people running these companies know where the employees they want to hire want to live, and it's not in a red county, and it's not even in a purplish county in a red state.

They want to be among their fellow correligionists.

And that tells you quite a bit about their biases. They'd rather live in an expensive, cramped studio five-floor walkup in Brooklyn than have a three bedroom house in Lincoln.

Only someone who places a very, very high premium in being Among the Tribe would sacrifice so much of more tangible lifestyle benefits.

So I think Jason Whitlock is right -- the leftwing Silicon Valley tech-culture has in fact hacked the media culture, moving it further to the left than ever before.

The very thing that was promised to expand diversity of thought has in fact greatly reduced it. Fewer and fewer opinions are acceptable to this claque any more, and less and less dissent is tolerated.

Rather than being fertile loam permitting thousands of different flowers to bloom, the internet is a relentlessly culled garden containing a single ugly species of flower that looks an awful lot like a weed with bright petals.

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posted by Ace at 02:01 PM

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