Few issues are more unpopular right now than the prospect of another government bailout, so it's surprising that President Obama seemed to invite a backlash by hinting in a Sunday interview that he would be "happy to look at" bills pitching a government intervention to save newspapers. He dug himself in deeper with an ill-advised potshot at the blogosphere, expressing concern that "the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all
opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put
stories in context."
Waving this red flag before tech bloggers and right-wingers brought the predictable torrent of smirks, rebuttals, and takedowns, which featured the full panoply of "old media" and "liberal" denunciations, depending on who was performing the takedown. Here are the best attacks:
- Outdated Technology, Yael Bizouati at Business Insider runs through a litany of criticisms of newspapers, including: "It's bad to reward outdated businesses based on outdated tech. Newspapers delivery trucks don't run on water. Traditionally bloated monopolies, newspapers don't know how to innovate. Just because newspapers go away doesn't mean sources will. Newspapers employ just 0.2 percent of the nation's labor force."
- Democratic Party Rags, writes Dafydd Ab Hugh at Hot Air. Hugh lays the sarcasm on thick, but says newspapers stopped deserving support once they became Democratic Party organs. "When they shifted from trying to report the news to trying to elect Democrats, they began shedding circulation. When they lost circulation, they lost advertising -- including the critical classified adverts, which were the major source of most newspapers' revenue...Given their business model, of course they let go all the conservatives and moderates, anyone who might insist upon hard facts instead of 'reporting' Democratic spin."
- Huge Conflict of Interest, writes E Pluribus Unum at Red State. "So the industry will not change in order to be profitable. And now Democrats are proposing to 'subsidize' -- aka take over -- the industry, and Obama has expressed that he's 'open' to it. That is code for 'it was his ideal.' We already have Government Banking and Government Motors. Now we can have the Government Press."
- Mythologized Reputation, says Doug Mataconis at Below the Beltway. Mataconis enumerates many failures by journalists over the last forty years, arguing that the storied reputation of print journalists has always been more fantasy than fact. "It was the media that hid from the public things like FDR's affair with Lucy Mercer, his polio, and, most importantly, his deteriorating health during the run-up to the 1944 Presidential election. They didn't seriously question the decision to send tens, and then hundreds, of thousands of American troops to die in a Southeast Asian jungle. And they unquestionably accepted the Bush Administration's representations leading up to the Iraq War in 2002 and 2003."
- Newspapermen Are Not the Only Reporters, blasts Michael Masnick at Techdirt. He makes the familiar but valuable point that it's silly to favor print journalists over bloggers simply because of the medium: "[I]t seems odd to lump the medium in with a certain type of reporting. There are plenty of 'real reporters' who do plenty of 'serious fact-checking' within the blog world too. Blogs are just a publishing medium...So why rescue one bunch of reporters, just because they happen to print on paper?"
[Y]ou have to wonder if Obama was just being nice in the interview with editors of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Toledo Blade.