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April 17, 2012

Washington Post: We Placed a Story About ObamaCare Increasing the Deficit on Page 3 Because We Didn't Want It To Go Viral


You -- wait, I had it, then I lost it. You had a scoop and you didn't want people to notice it?


Washington Post columnist Patrick Pexton made a rather startling admission in the paper’s Sunday edition: The Post never meant for their recent story about how President Obama’s health care law expands the budget deficit to become a viral Internet sensation. In fact, they deliberately tried to bury the story.
Putting the story (inside the paper) on A3 was the right judgment for a print publication. (Story author Lori) Montgomery urged her editors, correctly, not to put it on the front page: it wasn’t worth that.


Pexton, the Post’s resident ombudsman (an in-house critic-scold for those not familiar with journo-speak), admits that they are ambivalent about this success, calling story’s popularity a reflection of our “our reactive, partisan, hyperventilating media culture.”

ObamaCare is one of the most important issues this cycle, in terms of both public interest and actual importance. Sometimes the two aren't in sync -- Kim Kardashian's sexual exploits get more coverage than they warrant, obviously.

But here they are in sync. This issue is both objectively important and is of great interest to the public.

Here, a study demonstrates that a central selling point of ObamaCare -- that it will reduce the deficit -- is a lie, or, to put it less harshly, completely wrong, and that the critics were right -- it will increase the deficit.

And the Washington Post thinks that's an A3 story, at best?

And they worry about the reaction from "partisan" critics? What is the fear? That partisan critics will shout out, "We were right!"?

Well, uh, why shouldn't partisan critics shout out "We were right"? We were.

Is this too much for the Washington Post to admit?

Of course it is.

While the Washington Post fears hyper-charged partisans outside the walls of its offices, hyper-charged partisans have already established a dominant position within those walls.

This story sums up everything that is wrong with the media, and why it is dying -- and why it should die.

The media is no longer in the information business.

They are in the instruction business.

This is an important distinction.

If you're in the information business, your stock in trade is information. You have no particular concern about how that information will be received, or interpreted, or used for making political arguments. That's not your business-- you are in the business of data, not Narrative and not the internal contents of your readers' minds.

You are not your readers' minders, nor their tutors: You stand equal to them. They are citizens are you are citizens; you have no special insight into The Truth, and they no special disadvantage in discovering The Truth.

Now, if you're in the Instruction business, things are quite different. You stand not as an equal with your readers, but as a Teacher. And, worse yet, they are Children in need of your guidance.

You cannot just offer information willy-nilly to children. You cannot tell them, for example, that the odds of a heterosexual, non-intervenous drug user contracting the AIDS virus are trivially low, or they will Draw The Wrong Conclusions from this.

You must be protective of Children, who are, in final analysis, incompetent (legally as well as actually) individual who need to be told what to think and how to think. You cannot give them license to think whatever they like, for they are not mature enough for that.

They haven't yet learned the skill of thinking.

Thus, everything you tell a child must be with rounded corner and soft padding. Children are dangerous, after all, to themselves and others, if not properly minded at every moment.

Why do people -- and not just strong partisans, but most anyone who isn't a diehard liberal partisan -- hate the media?

Because of this, this belief of the media that we wish or need their Instruction in ordering our lives and ordering our thoughts.

But they are determined to do just that.

Why is every terrorist story underplayed, at least after the media can no longer pin it on a Tea Partier? They are afraid of what their fellow childlike, incompetent readers will think, and what they will do. So they have to make sure you mentally-retarded ward-of-the-state adults don't do anything rash.

Ditto every story involving a black criminal. You can't possibly handle that information; you didn't go to the right colleges. Only if you are educated to the media's satisfaction can you be trusted with a story about black criminals.

This isn't even restricted to news -- the media's strong belief that it is the Thin Black and White Line between semi-retarded barbarians from Idiocracy and civilization is present in films and fictions, too.

Every goddamned movie is a children's movie, with a soporofic, corporate-approved Moral (don't hate strangers; be yourself!).

Even movies for adults. Especially movies for adults.

This is called "being responsible." It's also called "being condescending" and "making infantile, bad art," but they prefer "being responsible."

The media will die, and it deserves to die.

Frankly, no one in the media is terribly intelligent. These people selected a career which involved a fair amount of social skills and a goodly amount of Wearing Make-Up on TV, and not so much deep thinking, for a reason.

There are relatively few people in media who would have succeeded in a field requiring deep thinking.

Although a lot of people enter the media industry from deep-thinking fields, I am aware of not a single reporter who has exited his industry to pursue a medical or engineering degree.

I don't know about you but I'm getting a little sick of people who couldn't break 550 on the Math SATs presuming to lecture me about what I should think about data.

By the Way: I'm not actually a complete "We're all equal" populist.

I have elitist tendencies.

It's not that I don't think there's a group of people who could be termed a Cognitive Elite.

It's just this:

I know for a fact the media is not well-represented among them.

I ain't sayin' there ain't smart people.

I'm saying, Media, very specifically: They ain't you.

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posted by Ace at 04:32 PM

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