The world has become a very strange place when someone like Van Jones -- a certified left-liberal, a member of the progressive political movement that has spent decades denoucning the biases and unfair coverage of the mainstream media -- says he misses the old days when a few editors controlled what the public saw. From an oped he wrote in the NYTimes July 26:
Anyone with a laptop and a flip camera can engineer a fake info-virus and inject it into the body politic. Those with cable TV shows and axes to grind can concoct their own realities. The high standards and wise judgments of people like Walter Cronkite once acted as our national immune system, zapping scandal-mongers and quashing wild rumors. As a step toward further democratizing America, we shrunk those old gatekeepers — and ended up weakening democracy’s defenses.
Jones also wrote -- and I agree -- that the era of rampant character assassination by fraudulent bloggers will eventually end:
The worst of the partisans will get their comeuppance and become cautionary tales for others. Public leaders will learn to be more transparent. We will teach our children not to rush to judgment. Technology will evolve to better expose fakers.
But wow, when we start to miss the old CBS/ABC/NBC monopolies, things have gotten pretty bad. Or else we've finally started to realize that, in an era when anyone can be a mass-media publisher, credibility, standards and principles still matter.