Sunday, February 19, 2017

- The Media's "Status" Suicide

Losing your high status must be a terrible thing. I wouldn’t know myself. Yes, I was a Portfolio Manager at several very elite hedge funds. But most people outside that industry think one hedge fund is the same as the next, and that they’re all lying, cheating, thieves anyway. Which means that the minute I walked out the office door, my status would immediately fall to zero. It’s an ego drug I never got the chance to get used to.

After money, status is the thing all men want, and all women want their man to have. Women, particularly young women, may even prefer it to money. Which is why the press is so doggedly clinging to their progressive narrative, in spite of it already laying in near ruins at their feet.

To them, the narrative makes them important. It elevates their individual opinion and their individual view. With it, instead of simply reporting on the actions and decisions of others, they become a part of the story. They are integral to it. They are framing it and explaining it. It’s their individual understanding of the news that becomes in some sense, the most important part. Without it, they’re just scribblers and file clerks – the record keepers of public life. And that means the end to their lofty status as the great explainers.

Credibility is an input to this media formula. With it, their opinions are powerful and they can influence people easily. Without it they can flail at people who don’t share their view, but never do any real damage to the opposing opinions. But credibility is a consumable resource. And the more they rely on it to persuade others, the less of it they retain.

At the high point of media influence of public opinion, Water Cronkite claimed that the US was losing the Vietnam war, in spite of virtually all evidence on the ground pointing to the contrary conclusion. The subsequent turn in public opinion weakened the government’s ability to prosecute the war, and Cronkite’s self fulfilling prophecy became the truth.

But that was a different time. These days there are too many new sources of information, and too many outsiders offering perspective. It’s become too easy to disprove the most obvious lies, so lies (or if you prefer…errors) like Cronkite’s don’t survive well. And the harder the traditional leftist media tries to sell its view and it’s framing of the debate, the more quickly they burn their credibility.

If the American news media wants to regain its credibility all it has to do is frame the stories they cover as being consistent with what most Americans can see for themselves, and what they inevitably will online. If what they tell us turns out to be consistent with history, with common sense, and our own lying eyes, their credibility would be instantly buoyed. Tucker Carlson and Milo are both doing that very thing, and both have begun reaping the benefits of it. But the liberal narrative is not a source of information like that.

This forces a choice on the media, which it hasn’t yet been willing to accept. They can either frame the news in a way that raises their credibility, or in a way that raises their status, but not both. So far, they are sticking with status. But they can see it dribbling away, even if they don’t see precisely why.

Chuck Todd is aware of the problem, or at least is feeling it’s effect. In a tweet particularly lacking in self reflection (even for an American journalist) he said:

This not a laughing matter. I'm sorry, delegitimizing the press is unAmerican

He doesn’t realize that it’s the press delegitimizing itself. And leaning on his own specific view of what is and isn’t “unAmerican”, isn’t going to help the situation. This is a journalist trying to leverage his status to restore his credibility, without realizing that the formula only works the other way around. You can leverage credibility to restore status, but not status to restore credibility.

There is a broader psychological and philosophical war going on in America that goes way past the sparring between the press and our chief executive. And ever time the American public see’s online video of “peaceful protesters” throwing rocks and burning cars, the media loses a little more credibility. Every time they tell us that biological facts are social constructs, or words and punches do the same damage, the media loses a little more credibility. Their status will only follow.

I think the whole thing is a kind of slow motion suicide. It’s the media consuming the addictive drug of high status, and in the process burning their own credibility to the ground.


MikeCLT said...

Brilliant observation and analysis.

Muzzlethemuz said...

Burn baby, burn.