Somehow I Think I Knew This Already...
Sarah Kugler Constructs a Sensible Narrative

Information Flow (Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?)

I think Ezra Klein gets this wrong:

EzraKlein Archive | The American Prospect: [O]ne aspect of the modern press that doesn't get enough attention... is the transition from the fundamental scarcity being information to... the fundamental scarcity being mediation. For instance, the attitude... [of] Marc Ambinder post is fully understandable if you... [thought] there were eight political stories... different each day.... [If] one of them had pointed out that Palin actually did support the Bridge to Nowhere, then the press would indeed have done its job....

But cable news and blogs and radio... changed all that... consumers largely rely on the press to arrange that information into some sort of coherent story.... [T]he press assumed that role.... They fill this new role through the methods storytellers have always used to tell stories: the repetition of certain key themes and characters.... [I]f the press reports something and never mentions it again, the public knows to forget it. It's not important. If they mention it constantly -- "I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it" -- they know it is important. The job of the media, in other words, is now to also emphasize the right parts of the story.

This requires deciding what matters.... I think it's important that one of the central arguments the McCain campaign is making for Palin is a lie. I think that should be reported a lot, at least as often as the McCain campaign repeats it, and then if the McCain campaign doesn't stop repeating it, their lying should be emphasized a lot, because that's also important. On the level of first order principles, I know the press agrees with me, because they did this with John Kerry. The crucial problem in this discussion comes here: The press isn't allow to admit that they construct these narratives.... [This] creates mistrust and anger.

It also gives rise to a more fundamental incoherence.... Ambinder waves this media conversation away as a "Greenwaldian debate about the duties, obligations and frustrations of the press" because he thinks of all this as media criticism. But this isn't about the press, it's about the campaign. And he's the guy we all look to for that type of coverage. His job is to report on the motivations and actions and effects of the major political players in the election (and he's among the best at it). But there is arguably no political player as important in the election as the aggregate media...

First, we don't look to Ambinder to fill this role. The fact that he has decided to report on campaign-minus-media disqualifies him from filling it. We hope to prevent others from looking to Ambinder to fill this role by pointing out what he and his fellows are doing. We have limited success.

Second, this isn't new. This isn't the result of radio or the internet. This has been the case ever since Odysseus's press agent first got people to refer to him as the guy you could always count on to come up with a clever plan.

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