Monday, November 8, 2010

Juan Williams and Keith Olbermann

What did we learn from the Juan Williams (fired by NPR) and Keith Olbermann (suspended by MSNBC) controversies?

Other, that is, than both were gross overreactions?  Let me toss out a few lessons.

  1. Partisanship and ideology have become fully integrated into news.  For those who thought it was always this way (it wasn't), you'll be happy to know there's no way around it now.  Congrats.  It's the New World Journalism Order, and it ain't pretty.
  2. Research has long suggested that conservatives are less open to hearing an opposing viewpoint than are liberals.  I wonder whether that still holds.
  3. Journalism is now being held up to even more ridicule.  Thanks NPR and MSNBC.  Good job.
  4. The First Amendment is used today like a blunt instrument, even when it doesn't really apply, not unlike a surgeon choosing the wrong tool to open up a chest. 
  5. Straight news is dead.  Not because it doesn't exist, not because it isn't done.  For most people, Straight News is like the Tooth Fairy.  Nice to believe in, but that's about it.

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