Back in the bad old days, “samizdat” was the name given to that body of politically forbidden literature that was clandestinely published and circulated in the Soviet Union. In 2010, the Internet serves as an American samizdat, to the advantage of conservatives of one shade or another.
The Internet advantages “conservatives” more than “liberals” not because there are more or better conservative websites, but because of (1) the larger numbers of conservatives; and (2) the failure of the legacy media to portray conservative views and concerns.
No issue better illustrates this phenomenon than the extraordinary revelations of fraud and abuse in the “global warming” debate. Despite the steadily growing number of Internet stories challenging the findings and practices of such as the IPCC and the East Anglia CRU, the mainstream U.S. media (the broadcast networks, newsweeklies, wire services, the Washington Post and New York Times) have shown little or no interest in these stories.
Instead, most of these news outlets continue to print or broadcast reports that are oblivious to the damage done in recent weeks to the claim of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). And even where they have made mention of this development, they’ve often done so in a way that’s calculated to minimize the impact of the exposes.
A good example is the story published in the Washington Post by Julia Eilperin and David Farenthold. Under the headline “Series of missteps by climate scientists threatens climate-change agenda,” the authors offer a perfunctory rundown of the many allegations that have recently been made against AGW literature, while repeating, mantra-like and in virtually every other paragraph, some variation on the claim of a scientific consensus that “climate change is happening.”
The contrast between this kind of coverage, or non-coverage, by the MSM, and the multitude of critical stories available on the Internet, many of them links to articles published in major British newspapers, is startling. But news aggregators like the Drudge Report aren’t the only example of the way the Internet is empowering conservative voices re this and other issues.
The online comments sections of the MSM themselves are proving to be fertile soil for conservative opinion. In fact, one sometimes wonders what the MSM’s reporters make of the comments that follow publication of their pieces online. As of the time this piece is being written, for instance, the Eilperin/Farenthold story has attracted about 200 comments, perhaps 70 percent of them critical of the reporters for whitewashing, or failing to mention in sufficient detail, the “Climategate” revelations.
Other examples of the ways in which the American samizdat is facilitating right-of-center news and opinion can be seen in the widespread circulation of important stories similarly ignored until late in the news cycle, like the Acorn scandal, and more recently of exposes of the role of public employee unions in the deteriorating financial condition of so many states and municipalities.
There was a time, not so long ago, when news coverage by the MSM could set the agenda, and prosper, whatever its slant. No more. The issue today is how much longer the MSM will continue to practice center-left journalism in a center-right country. At a time when their business models are in disarray, and the economy on its uppers, how long before the MSM come to believe that this is just bad business?