Glenn H. Reynolds
With Donald Trump out of office and de-platformed, you’d think mainstream media gatekeepers would be happy. You’d think wrong.
Though the media-Big Tech regime is doing its best to silence opponents and seize control of the high ground, the news from within is grim. They aren’t happy with how things are going.
That’s because they know they’re losing. Some are losing audiences and revenues. But more important, they’re losing control of the narrative.
And since control of the narrative, and the power and self-importance that accompany that control, is the most important thing in their lives, they can’t be happy.
Consider the cri de coeur of Washington Post public editor Hamilton Nolan, inspired by Tesla’s decision to scrap its media-relations department. How could that happen?
Nolan knows how, and that’s what bothers him: Tesla scrapped its media-relations department because the media don’t much matter to it. Tesla has plenty of ways to get its story out without relying on the media, and that makes the media much less important — and much less powerful. And it’s the power part that hurts the most.
Writes Nolan: “We are living through a historic, technology-fueled shift in the balance of power between the media and its subjects. The subjects are winning. . . . As journalists, we all view this as a horrifying assault on the public’s right to know, and on our own status as brave defenders of the public good. And that is all true, for what it’s worth. But this is about power.”
It sure is. And the media have less. Some of that is because of technology, but more of it is because reporters and editors have lost their standing with the people whose “right to know” they allegedly uphold.
The “right to know” claim rings hollow when The Washington Post, along with virtually every other mainstream outlet, did its best to kill the still-undisputed Hunter Biden stories published in these pages ahead of the election. Do the people have a “right to know” things in general? Or just the things Nolan would want them to know? Seems more like the latter, and people have noticed.
Right now, much of the media regurgitate news releases for those they favor — like the stories about President Biden’s firewood or First Lady Jill Biden’s scrunchie that were served up as news this week. And the media shut down stories they don’t want people to know about, like Hunter’s. Why should Tesla or any other news subject go along with that?
Meanwhile, The New York Times ran a hit piece on the “Slate Star Codex” blog, on the basis, apparently, that lots of Silicon Valley people read it and it says un-PC things sometimes. As Matt Yglesias wrote, the coverage boiled down to this: “Scott Alexander’s blog is popular with some influential Silicon Valley people. Scott Alexander has done posts that espouse views on race or gender that progressives disapprove of. Therefore, Silicon Valley is a hotbed of racism and sexism.”
As Reason’s Robby Soave commented, “one starts to get the feeling that the Times simply wants to tarnish every view that exists outside its own narrow purview, perhaps because the Times has appointed itself the gatekeeper of the unsayable and resents having to relinquish this role to newer media ventures.”
One starts to get that feeling because it’s true. The Times has also gone after the Clubhouse app, an audio forum that lets people talk about things in real time, also apparently because the paper doesn’t like the idea of free speech. In a tweet, the Times warned that “unfettered conversations” are taking place on Clubhouse. Quelle horreur! Bring out the fetters posthaste!
Actually, fetters seem to be what the Times wants. In an earlier episode, New York Times hall monitor Taylor Lorenz falsely accused Clubhouse participant Marc Andreessen of using the word “retard” in a conversation, then issued a non-apology apology when cornered. Other journalists complained that because Clubhouse doesn’t keep or allow recordings, there’s no way to hold people “accountable” for saying something controversial.
In all cases, the complaint is that people are bypassing the gatekeepers and saying what they want to say. Given the behavior of the gatekeepers, that doesn’t seem like a bug but a feature. Bypass away!
Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a professor of law at the University of Tennessee and founder of the InstaPundit.com blog.