"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."


Glenn Reynolds:

Barack Obama:
"Impossible to transcend."

Albert A. Gore, Jr.:
"An incontinent brute."

Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
"God damn the Gentleman Farmer."

Friends of GF's Sons:
"Is that really your dad?"

Kickball Girl:
"Keeping 'em alive until 7:45."

Hired Hand:
"I think . . . we forgot the pheasant."

I'm an
Alcoholic Yeti
in the
TTLB Ecosystem

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Mainstream Media as Cult

Ali Bubba, at Alabama Liberation Front, asks:
Why are we watching AP repeat the same basic mistake that CBS committed with Dan Rather's fake-but-accurate National Guard debacle?

Two words: "Everybody knows." Anyone who has studied anthropology, sociology or mass psychology understands how false beliefs can become conventional wisdom within groups if (a) high-status individuals within the group advocate the belief, and (b) there is no one inside the group to dispute the false belief.

That, in short, is the herd-mentality explanation of why liberal bias pervades the MSM. It's also the explanation of the Heaven's Gate cult (whose members acted on the belief that they must commit suicide in order to be taken aboard a cosmic mothership traveling behind the Hale-Bopp comet). Where group membership is dependent upon shared belief, where skepticism of key beliefs is viewed as disloyalty to the group, and where non-believers are stigmatized, marginalized and excluded, the truth or falsehood of group beliefs is moot. Logic and evidence, so far as they might undermine belief, are unwelcome. This is how it becomes possible for groups to act upon false beliefs.

"Everybody knows" so-and-so to be true, and those who question what "everybody knows" tend to make themselves unpopular.
We think it unlikely that the editorial board of the New York Times will commit mass suicide any time soon

[we pause while you insert the appropriate joke of your choice]

but this is a point well taken. We see it at work again when Nancy Pelosi explains that she feels "sad" that President thinks that Al Qaeda fighters are in Iraq. "Everyone Knows" that there was no connection between bin Laden and Saddam (except that there was), and our Speaker-To-Be apparently got her talking-points confused. You'll recall that once upon a time "everybody knew" that Al Qaeda fighters had come to Iraq only because American troops were there. Of course, most people rather quickly realized that this was a good thing, rather than a bad thing, and so "everybody knew" it was time to move on to new confabulations.

Comments on "The Mainstream Media as Cult"


Anonymous 'chesty' said ... (5:21 PM) : 

i'm interested in seeing the evidence that there was some link between Osama and Saddam. Tenet was pretty clear in his testimony before the Senate that "sources do not describe Iraqi complicity in, control over, or authorization of specific terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaida" and the Senate's ultimate report was pretty clear that, despite all of the pressure from the administration to find some link, the CIA could not uncover any credible reporting of collaboration between the two. in fact, the best the CIA could do was note "al-Qaida, including Bin Ladin personally, and Saddam were leery of close cooperation" but leave open the possibility that "mutual antipathy of the two" might not prevent limited cooperation at some point in the future. so if "everybody knows" there was zero evidence of a link, it would seem to me like that's because the director of the CIA and a Republican-controlled Senate told us so.

of course, if i have to chose between facts substantiated by "because everybody knows its true" and those substantiated by "because the bush administration really wants it to be true", i guess i'd have to go with the wisdom of the crowd.


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