Media Madness: The Corruption of Our Political Culture
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Mr. Kurtz’s column in the Post is, like the various “ombudsman” columns that have sprung up like mushrooms in the newspapers of America, practically founded on the journalistic trick of citing allegations of bias or malfeasance, beating the columnar breast about it for a paragraph or two, asking if objectivity and professionalism can be preserved or reestablished, and concluding that—well, yes they can. Merely asking the question thus becomes a means of reinforcing the self-satisfaction that creates bias in the first place while simultaneously implying that it doesn’t exist, except in trivial ways or by inadvertently going “too far.”
Self-regard is no substitute for self-restraint or humility, and neither Bowman’s diagnosis nor his brand of eviscerating clarity is likely to be very popular with those who play such games. For anyone seeking a deeper examination of the media- industrial complex, however, Media Madness will likely be a revelation. Indeed, it is a book that, especially if taken in tandem with the superlative Honor, can in the space of a few hours radically alter the way one understands the structure (and frequent artifice) of the modern world.
Such is the incisiveness of this singular cultural critic, although he would probably warn us not to take his or anyone else’s word as the end-all decree on this or any other matter: “The word ‘reality’ as used by the media carries the same import as it does in ‘reality TV,’ ” Bowman writes, “which is to say that, whatever else it means, it cannot mean reality.”
Shawn Macomber is a contributing editor to The American Spectator.
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