Friday, December 06, 2002

Krugman Weighs In:

This week Al Gore said the obvious. "The media is kind of weird these days on politics," he told The New York Observer, "and there are some major institutional voices that are, truthfully speaking, part and parcel of the Republican Party."

The reaction from most journalists in the "liberal media" was embarrassed silence. I don't quite understand why, but there are some things that you're not supposed to say, precisely because they're so clearly true....

...The "fairness doctrine" forced broadcast media to give comparable representation to opposing points of view. Restrictions on ownership maintained a diversity of voices. And there was a general expectation that major news outlets would stay above the fray, distinguishing clearly between opinion and news reporting. The system didn't always work, but it did set some limits.

Over the past 15 years, however, much of that system has been dismantled. The fairness doctrine was abolished in 1987. Restrictions on ownership have been steadily loosened, and it seems likely that next year the Federal Communications Commission will abolish many of the restrictions that remain — quite possibly even allowing major networks to buy each other. And the informal rule against blatantly partisan reporting has also gone away — at least as long as you are partisan in the right direction. There's more, of course, but that's the jist of it.

You know, it kind of makes me wonder. Gore has that supposed low popularity rating, and everybody in the Echo Chamber (a term he uses!) is quick to dismiss him... yet when he says something, it inevitably becomes pretty damned mainstream pretty quick.

Personally, I'd like to see a detailed breakdown of Gore support by political position and demographic; that 15% might start ratcheting up pretty quickly. Of course, it doesn't pay to tick off the media; as Atrios ably pointed out, however, you're probably screwed thanks to the "fair" left and the partisan right no matter what you do.

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