Yesterday I posted the excerpt from my interview with Tom Brokaw which dealt with the CNN/YouTube fiasco. (The interview will play in its entirety on Tuesday.) We circled back to the topic later in the conversation, when we discussed longtime Los Angeles Times reporter Carl Greenberg’s dismay with the political rhetoric of 1968:
HH: Do you feel a little bit like Greenberg now when you read the Daily Kos, or the other virulent blogs of the left?
TB: No, I think…I’m still tracking the patois. He had not ever heard a speech like Al Lowenstein gave in California, when he was trying to organize the anti-war movement, within the party. Carl had grown up, you know, covering…I remember the story that Carl told me. In 1948, they were doing the winners of the Congressional election, to get them into the paper, and this man came up and handed him his card, and it was Richard Milhous Nixon. It was the first time he ever met him. And Carl was the one that Nixon singled out on that infamous news conference in which he said you won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore. And the only fair reporter, he said, was Carl. So you know, rhetoric did change. The politics didn’t operate within the confines of smoke rooms anymore. You couldn’t go to a few bosses and get the story. It was spread out across the landscape, and he was having a hard time keeping track of all that.
HH: Isn’t that, though, playing…I think that’s playing out again. I won’t put it as a question. I’ll put it as a statement, and have you comment. That’s playing out again as old media looks around, whether your colleague, Dan Rather, during the meltdown on the false papers about Texas Air National Guard…
TB: Yeah, right.
HH: Or last night’s YouTube debate. I just don’t think the suits at Rockefeller Center or in the other networks know how to deal with this new media environment. They’re scratching their head like Carl Greenberg did.
TB: I think everybody is going through that with all…look, we are in what I call the second big bang. We’re creating a whole new universe out there, all of us. You included, by the way. And we’re trying to figure out which planets are going to support life, and which ones won’t, which ones will drift too close to the Sun. Who knows how long talk radio will be around, and before it becomes a medium that’s under assault as well. How are we going to marry all of these traditional forms of delivery together? I was at the Washington Post the other day, and in the lobby, they’ve got a great testimonial to their very modern, state of the art printing press. And I was reading it, and fascinated by the numbers that were there, about 75,000 copies an hour, and the automatic role of ink that goes in. And as I walked away, I thought, I wonder if in ten years, I’ll see that at the Smithsonian.
HH: How interesting. And Jim Brady is the editor of Washingtonpost.com. He’s got it. I mean, he’s figured it out. I just think there’s a lot of Carl Greenbergs wandering around.
As Trochilus Tales points out, CNN is either incredibly incompetent or deeply deceptive given how its senior executives sold the debate:
As has been duly noted elsewhere, here is a CNN story, “Funny, poignant questions pour in for GOP debate” dated just this past Monday (11/26), in which CNN Vice President, David Bohrman made it quite clear that the specific intention of the hosts of Wednesday night’s debate was for Republican questioners to ask the Republican candidates questions.
Here is exactly what Bohrman said on topic in the story, just a few days ago:
“This debate is to let Republican voters pick from among their eight candidates,” said David Bohrman, Washington bureau chief and senior vice president for CNN. “We are trying to focus mostly on questions where there are differences among these candidates.”
Both claims were utterly and completely untrue.
More on the debate meltdown in the San Francisco Chronicle’s blog, and across the new media.
A smash-up of this magnitude in other than a media corporation would result in heads rolling, but the peculiar defensiveness of old media about its infallibility is kicking in. Confronted with overwhelming evidence of its premeditated mediocrity, the network plus along as though nothing happened, and its old media colleagues are happy to assist in the attempt to induce amnesia. (Glenn Reynolds gives a couple of examples.)
The Chron blogger Joe Garofoli wrote that I got Brokaw “to pile on his mainstream media bros.” Brokaw’s very mild observation of the obvious screw-up is piling on?
But of course it is viewed that way from within the beseiged towers of old media, where ad revenue is draining away, and the generation gap is as obvious as the sun in the sky.
Mark Steyn, as usual, put the arrow in the bullseye (the transcript of our conversation from yesterday is here):
HH: What did you make of that spectacle last night?
MS: Well, I thought it was a joke. If we’re going to have gimmicky novelty debates, if politics is too boring that you can’t have serious, meaningful debates, I’d rather we just got the candidates to take part in Dancing With The Stars. I mean, that would be a lot more fun than these lame attempts to oomph up political debate, starting with that pathetic guitarist. It’s a sort of quintessential thing of what kind of square guys do when they’re trying to make something interesting. This guitarist who sang a novelty song about the candidates, with these insipid lyrics, a funny song that isn’t funny with just these lame lines about Tancredo wanting to build a fence, and Huckabee’s lost weight, they’re not even funny couplets. And it set the tone for it, pathetic, squaresville CNN producers trying to get hip with the beat, and just looking pathetic and demeaning, and degrading everything they touch.
HH: You know, I think you’re right. It’s the Austin Powersization of cable network news, and they were looking pathetic as the night went on. But let’s get to some substance about this. It is so wrong to have Ron Paul invited to this debate, then put him in the corner for 35 minutes, and then ask him a conspiracy-nutter question.
HH: That is to me emblematic of everything that went on last night.
MS: Yes, and I think in fact, CNN behaved disgracefully. I don’t know, I mean, you’ve been on CNN before. I find CNN a very tiresome network in part because when you, when they try to book you on something, they want to have these pre-interviews, which are big time wasters, and I never agree to do them, where they want to discuss your views for an hour beforehand, before you do your two minute on-air bit with whoever the host is. So it seems to me incredible on its face that for example, this gay general who’s supporting Hillary, that they couldn’t have done the minimal amount of work necessary to find out that this guy is not Mr. Undecided Voter, but he is in fact on the Hillary campaign, that the woman who asked the abortion question is not, you know, Little Miss Undecided Feminist Voter, but in fact an explicit John Edwards supporter. I simply don’t buy the fact that even the overmanned, deadbeat production staff at CNN simply were incapable of finding out the truth of this thing.
CNN is of course going to the mattresses, just as every MSMer does when the collision with their own bias and/or incompetence arrives.But like Rathergate, the YouTube/BoobTube debate is already a major milestone in the accelerating collapse of credibility of the MSM.