March 3, 2006

On "the astounding baseness to which Liberal journalism has sunk." -- 1917

PLUS CA CHANGE, and so forth:

One of the two or three streaks of light on our horizon can be perceived in this: that the moral breakdown of these papers has been accompanied by a mental breakdown also. The contemporary official paper, like the "DailyNews" or the "Daily Chronicle" (I mean in so far as it deals with politics), simply cannot argue; and simply does not pretend to argue. It considers the solution which it imagines that wealthy people want, and it signifies the same in the usual manner; which is not by holding up its hand, but by falling on its face. But there is no more curious quality inits degradation than a sort of carelessness, at once of hurry and fatigue,with which it flings down its argument--or rather its refusal to argue.It does not even write sophistry: it writes anything. It does not so much poison the reader's mind as simply assume that the reader hasn't got one." -- LIBERALISM - A SAMPLE, Utopia of Userers, et al by Gilbert K. Chesterton
A nice little summation of our current run of "leading" newspapers even if it is almost a century old.

More to the point of how Chesterton means more at this moment than in many decades is what comes next in a comment that prefigures the "new" media.

A long while ago, before all the Liberals died, a Liberal introduced a Bill to prevent Parliament being merely packed with the slaves of financial interests. For that purpose he established the excellent democratic principle that the private citizen, as such, might protest against public corruption. He was called the Common Informer. I believe the miserable party papers are really reduced to playing on the degradation of the two words in modern language. Now the word "comnon" in "Common Informer" means exactly what it means in "common sense" or "Book of Common Prayer," or (above all) in "House of Commons." It does not mean anything low or vulgar; any more than they do. The only difference is that the House of Commons really is low and vulgar; and the Common Informer isn't. It is just the same with the word "Informer." It does not mean spy or sneak. It means one who gives information. It means what "journalist" ought to mean. The only difference is that the Common Informer may be paid if he tells the truth. The common journalist will be ruined if he does.

Posted by Vanderleun at March 3, 2006 7:35 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Don't be silly.

Posted by: Raw Data at March 4, 2006 8:09 AM