Blogging changed the media business for the worse

Media criticism was the bread and butter of blogging for one simple reason: It’s easy. I’ve often said that if the New York Times didn’t exist, conservatives would have to create it, because much of the right is more interested in how the Times covers the news than the news it delivers. Jay likes to say there are two kinds of writers: those who write about the world, events, issues etc., and those who write about the people who write about such things. Blogging was made for the latter type…

Conservatives were complaining about liberal media bias decades before Spiro Agnew was decrying “pusillanimous pussyfooters” and “nattering nabobs of negativism.” But in the blogging age, the complaints metastasized into cancerous obsessions. Yes, part of the story is the way in which the mainstream media often strived to earn much of the contempt conservatives have for it (a development that also has a lot to do with the influence of blogging). But part of it was simply structural. Blogging encouraged writers to focus less on the news than on the way it was presented and those who presented it. Commenting intelligently and quickly on actual news is pretty hard. Finding fault in others is much easier—and more fun.

Just as Starbucks educated the consumer to think it was normal to spend $3 (and then $5 or $6) on a cup of coffee, blogging educated the consumer to think this kind of stuff wasn’t merely fun, but deadly serious. The mainstream media is weaker than it has ever been. Yet many conservatives today would have you believe it isn’t just powerful, but tyrannical.