Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The Amazing Collapsing Establishment Media

as I write this, the sterling reputation of CBS News is crumbling due to "Memogate"-- running with a story based on documents which were exposed as fakes within about three hours by political blogggers sharing information and expertise on the Internet. That "guys in pajamas" completely and swiftly outworked and outmaneuvered some of the most respected research people in the business shows that we're in the midst of major change.

This election is as much as anything a battle between new and old media-- and the established icons are losing.

Some notes I made to myself, which may or may not be accurate:

The establishment media is the election's biggest loser. Not just CBS News, due to its stonewalling. As discredited is the NY TIMES, whose reputation is sinking daily. The nadir of Michiko Kakutani's career has to be yesterday's review of Kitty Kelley's book "The Family." Kakutani obviously regards the book and the assignment with extreme distaste-- but there she is reviewing the thing anyway; the loyal soldier doing her part. How many hundreds of authors would love to get that kind of space? Yet there she is, reviewing what is acknowledged on all sides as trash.

Wherever one stands in this election -- and I'm no fan of Bush and his gang, never have been-- it's impossible to ignore the TIMES' political bias, as one-sided as Sean Hannity's on the other side. (The ULA, incidentally, has noticed the TIMES bias in the lit realm for a long time, giving full page spreads to no-talent Manhattan glitterati like Tom Beller and, er, Mr. Moody.)

If Kerry loses the election, a part of it will be the American public's disgust with the shilling of CBS News and others. Kerry suffers by association with these elitist people. (Not that he's not elitist himself. "Ditto" for Mr. Bush.) Many folks embracing conservative "new media" do it in reaction-- they're fleeing liberal media into the waiting arms of people like Hannity.

The Trend of History is obvious-- it's AGAINST the fossilized immobile decayed flagships of the 20th Century like the NEW YORKER and the NY TIMES. The ULA has been the only lit group to recognize this sea change and to be at the forefront of it. Our literary competitors, to say the least, are lagging behind.

The ULA is the vanguard of literary change, and we're willing to work with other writers who are interested in change; who don't wish to be left behind. (End of notes.)

I'll have much more to say on this topic as things develop, as I sort out my thoughts on the matter. I welcome the input of other writers. While I think that this is a phenomenon of small versus large-- that things have to do more with centralized concentrations of power breaking down than any phony designations of "Left" and "Right"-- one can also recognize that if Bush wins this election, despite the tower of baggage he carries (the war not the least of the problems), his victory will because of the noise generated by bloggers and their radio talk show allies, as evidenced on both the Swiftboat and Memogate stories-- enough noise to defeat the combined weight of the major networks and major newspapers, past holders of the power of the Fourth Estate.


Anonymous said...

Hey Karl,

Tim Hall here. I'm not here to post any political views, but to add my support for your new blog and to respond somewhat to your "Demi-Puppets" post earlier. The fact is, you and the ULA have already changed the nature of discourse in the Lit World, and They are scrambling to co-opt your message (as you already well know, from the Believer hit job and elsewhere), without giving you proper credit. You are a key "primary source" for the vampires, who are trying to hijack your relevance/arguments for their own tepid approximations. That's the nature of the beast: what do expect from trend-following litomatons but that they would automatically, instictively, glom onto your trendsetting narrative to give their own anemic efforts a much-needed shot of literary adrenaline in the ass?

They've got money, power, connections, and an inbred sense of their own infallibility. What have you got? Truth and a keyboard, supplied no doubt by the Philly public library system. My money's on you, though you're still a long shot. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

This does not concern the Big Media post. It comes from a comment I read (some time), or maybe it comes from a collection of comments that morphed into one.

Since someone who has been 'trained' in (I guess) Flavor-of-the-Day style, that automatically makes the person condemned never to make anything worthwhile?

Well, I want to say this, and it does not matter about his mature body of work, or his pre-mature work: Picasso was crap. He didn't do anything, ANYTHING, to push forward painting.

Picasso sucked. He was 'trained' in the Academy.

Once again: Picasso sucked!

King said...

Tim: I remain optimistic. History is on our side. Those who get in the way of history usually get run over.

To the Picasso fan-- there are actually worse artists than him. His stuff was at least often striking and colorful. Much contemporary stuff is just a big con. When Patrick King was in town, I went with him and his brother to tour the Philly Art Museum. (They wanted to run up the steps like Rocky.) The funniest thing in the museum was a painting we discovered had been hung upside down! No one had noticed, because it didn't really matter-- it was junk whichever way you looked at it.