Thursday, July 26, 2007

Do "New Media" just let us surround ourselves with views we already agree with?

This is a common canard now among people who fret about the terrible polarization ripping our country apart. Aren't people now able to surround themselves with blogs, websites, cable news programs, and/or radio programs filled with views they already agree with, and become incapable of receiving the wisdom of opposing views, thereby propelling partisan division and rancor?

Two things in response:

1. I read things I disagree with all the time. My favorite magazines and bloggers, I find I disagree with frequently. Look at my beef with Mark Kleiman, below. I had an equal beef with The Economist's recent "leader" (British for "editorial") on Murdoch's prospects for the Wall Street Journal. And even aside from these differences - even if I agreed with Kleiman and The Economist in these posts, how can someone getting their info & analysis from both Kleiman and The Economist possibly be isolating himself to a narrow range of views? (Just to pick two at random.) Beyond that, I purposely seek out and read people I know I'm probably going to have big disagreements with. I read every George Will column; Mankiw's blog; Ross Douthat; Christopher Hitchens; and on. There are other factors involved, but I soak up a lot more different angles on issues of the day than I did in the days before Das Internet-Maschine.

2. Sorry, but all sides in this partisanship are not created equal; I try to select my opposing views carefully, because the outlets that still favor pro-Bush opinions are quite frankly, raving idiots. "Aha", David Brooks says, "so it comes down to plain old partisanship after all!" No, it really truly is a case of lots of intelligent, and widely varying, views in the great reality-based majority, in complete imbalance against the small minority of divorced-from-reality, lockstep, shrieking madmen that set the intellectual standards among the extremist pro-Bush propaganda cabal - partly surrounded by a fringe of milquetoast irrationals (yes David Brooks, this is you) who always redefine "moderate" and "bipartisan" to mean exactly halfway between the reality-based and democratically-minded majority and the stark raving lunatics of our current White House.

Exhibit A for the driveling lunatic irrationality that now governs the dwindling Bushies: I bring back, for our common amusement, the Laffer Curve according to the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page (as covered by some hilarious citizens of reality-based America):

* DeLong: Most Dishonest Wall Street Journal Editorial Ever

* Hilzoy: The WSJ: Twenty-Odd Data Points On A Mission

* Cosmic Variance: Best Curve-Fitting Ever

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