If you look at newspapers and TV stations as mere businesses, not as public institutions with unique ethical standards, then you’ll notice a few things very quickly. One is that the Edward R. Murrow model of responsible news is kind of a sucky commercial product. Nobody who is in it for the money is going to ride that horse voluntarily.
The other is that the converse to the Murrow model is resoundingly true: that such things as hatred, resentment, narcissism, fear, secret lusts, and, yes, Schadenfreude have limitless markets, and businesses based upon sales of those things can compete with anything, from investment banking to consumer retail to drug trafficking. People will not stop what they’re doing to listen to a lecture about the dangers of dioxin poisoning, or corruption in Pentagon contracting. But they will stop to gawk at a headless body hanging out of the windshield of a wrecked car.
This was the basic insight that propelled Murdoch to his fortune.
"The Twitter Revolution”: No, this is the Revolution of the Egyptian people. Egyptians resisted for decades. They were tortured, jailed and repressed by the Mubarak and Sadat regimes. Twitter and Facebook are tools. They did not stand in front of the water canons, or go to jail for all these years to get the credit. There were demonstrations all summer long and for a several years through out Egypt but they are rarely covered, because we are worried about what Sarah Palin said, or some moronic Imam saying something stupid. Does it sound a bit arrogant to take credit for a people’s struggle?
When widely followed public figures feel free to say anything, without any fact-checking, we have a problem. It becomes impossible for a democracy to think intelligently about big issues — deficit reduction, health care, taxes, energy/climate — let alone act on them. Facts, opinions and fabrications just blend together. But the carnival barkers that so dominate our public debate today are not going away — and neither is the Internet. All you can hope is that more people will do what Cooper did — so when the next crazy lie races around the world, people’s first instinct will be to doubt it, not repeat it.
It was quite an exhibition in "fair and balanced" TV news. And it demonstrated rather neatly what happens when corporate news channels control the flow of information: They pretend to offer "balance," but facts that undermine the predominant narrative are never given the light of day.
All the more reason to defend our Web freedoms by maintaining net neutrality.