Dec 182006

It seems that on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos this Sunday, George Will went off on Time Magazine for naming the users of the Internet and the blogosphere as “The Person of The Year.” Will thinks it’s all just about narcissism, and writing diaries.

I’m with Will. A functioning and effective instrument of journalism has no place in a free and democratic society. That’s why it is imperative that both access to the Internet be rigidly controlled and that its content be scrupulously censored. We should be thrilled to delegate to trustworthy patriots like George Will the troublesome burden of keeping us informed. I’m only too happy to let towering paragons of intellectual gravitas like Mr. Will decide what we need – or don’t need – to know.

Seriously, for George Will to say that anyone else is narcissistic may be the most disingenuous comment ever made by a pundit. Will says, “So much of what is done on the web is people getting on there and writing their diaries as though everyone ought to care about every one’s inner turmoils.” So how is it I know about Will’s love of baseball, the Cub’s in particular, with the O’s a close second. Or that he has a child w/Down’s Syndrome? Why should anyone care when George Will waxes on about Tony LaRussa?

Remember all those times you talked back to your TV and no one could hear you? Well, now they can.  In Mr. Wills voice, we hear the plaintive whine of the Elite he has always served, worried that the common folk have finally found their voice, and are literally ‘speaking truth to power’. But not only speaking; recall that before the Iraq War, millions around the planet were coordinating anti-war protests courtesy of the same means you are using to read these words. The Powerful have always feared an information medium that they could not control…and so far, this is it. Watching stooges like these dismiss independent news, blogs, etc., provides that rare glimpse of a once elite group going through a controlled panic attack.  

At one point in the conversation, George Stephanopoulos makes the point that only 13% of Americans say they read blogs. First, the web is about much more than just blogs, but even in that case, 13% represents 39,000,000. That’s a large audience by any standard.

Yes, there is plenty of narcissism in the blogosphere. And a lot of seriously good content, too. It is an indication of Will’s own narcissism that he would appoint himself as sole arbiter of what is legitimate and what isn’t, as if he is one of the very few who is qualified to discern the difference. By making his statement, he is betraying his own contempt for the viewing audience, because he is telling us that we are too stupid and dim-witted to make the distinction between drivel and integrity for ourselves. As noted by a blog commenter on Crooks & Liars:

Will is a classic “gatekeeper,” a guardian of media orthodoxy, and he sees his position threatened in two ways.

  • First, blogs enable news to sidestep his screening, often providing different, sometimes contradictory, takes on the same subject.
  • Second, blogs make it harder for anointed journalists to “put out fires.” One can imagine Will et al trying to dismiss the George Allen “macaca” blunder, shove it under the rug, but this can’t be done with people replaying it on YouTube any time they want.

George Will’s just a dime on the railroad tracks of mass media at this point. If he equates political discourse as narcissism, then he’s once again proved himself an elitist boob who’s grown far too comfortable in the spotlight. How is it he doesn’t see that he’s just describing himself and every other pundit here? Just the medium is different. And he’s jealous because he knows newspapers are losing circulation by the boatload and he feels increasingly irrelevant. Well – he’s right -he IS increasingly irrelevant.

George — your bow tie’s on crooked. Or maybe your tie’s on straight and your head’s on crooked?

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