April 08, 2003

IT'S DUMB BECAUSE IT'S CONVENTIONAL

IT'S DUMB BECAUSE IT'S CONVENTIONAL: Newsweek's "Conventional Wisdom" feature-- you know, the one with the arrows-- comes in for an Insta-beating from Glenn Reynolds. Reynolds overlooks that the issue dated yesterday, which he cites, was actually published last week; the date on a print magazine is the day that it goes off the newsstand; this might mitigate somewhat how ridiculous they look.

The CW writers are obviously sensitive to this criticism; see the new "War Whiplash Edition", with the blurb:

Reminder: The CW charts the manic movements of media/Beltway blowhards, whether right or wrong. Occupational hazard: Arrows can spin overnight.
My father, a long-time CW-hater, has been corresponding with Newsweek over last week's all-arrows-down look at the administration. He's forwarded me responses from one of the CW writers, who offered basically this same defense. (I also know that he's seen the Instapundit item, because my Dad sent it to him; his response was to point out the new issue.)

There's one problem with this answer: it's so 1992. Meaning: there really is no monolithic conventional wisdom anymore. The top cable news channel, Fox News, ran with the administration's "this is only the first week" line. Internet commentators had that angle even before the administration, and added extra historical perspective on how incredibly successful the early days of the war really were.

Eleven years ago, it would make sense to report the "conventional wisdom" as if it were from the center-left perspective which overwhelmingly dominated the media. Back then, CNN was the only 24-hour cable news channel, and widespread internet usage was but a gleam in the eye of a few visionaries. With a heterogeneous and non-stop conversation about the world going on, any attempt to distill the conventional wisdom into up and down arrows will inevitably give short shrift to a big part of that conversation, and this tends to come out tilted toward the bias of the authors. The CW tilts toward reporting the liberal or neoliberal view of the moment; consciously or not, that's the part of the conversation they listen to, to the exclusion of other influencial and important voices. That makes the CW nearly useless, except perhaps as a parlor-game for like-minded journalists.

Posted by John Tabin at April 8, 2003 04:11 PM
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