Thursday, March 30, 2006

Penguin on the Equator

When somebody names their blog something like Penguin on the Equator, I just have to go and take a look. It turns out AK of Penguin on the Equator has a post on Norm Ornstein who has written about the media:
It's been a couple weeks since my last post on wonk extraordinaire Norm Orntein, but a friend today forwarded me a great article written by him in the current edition of Legal Affairs. In it, he criticizes the Washington press corps for failing to get to the stories about corruption in the GOP Congress -- those about the K Street Project, the Abramoff and Delay scandals, and lobbying reform generally -- given the warning signs that were present many years ago. As usual, Norm says all kinds of smart stuff.

He starts by talking about how, several years back, he began asking reporters why they weren't reporting some of the earliest efforts of the K Street Project...
In a way, the change in journalism began with Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich who spent so much time on the attack in the nineties that they gave cover to a lot of nonsense that was going on. Or maybe it began sooner when the media refused to dig very deep into the Iran-Contra story and the side story of the senior Bush saying, "I was out of the loop, I was out of the loop..." I'm a pragmatist and a realist, not a conspiracy buff, but there were too many nuts and bolts stories that simply didn't get covered for whatever reason.

My first impression is that AK and Norm Orstein are independent thinkers. I don't know enough about AK or Norm Orstein to comment further but there are times I want to widen the discussion and read people outside my usual haunts and usual inclinations. The progressive blogs have led the way on a number of fronts in the last four years but there are three dangers that progressives need to watch out for: groupthink which begins to lead to stagnant thinking; getting so far out ahead of the electorate that bloggers forget to make their case to Americans of varying backgrounds (and not just to each other); and finally, the habit some bloggers and many thread commenters have of slipping into the hubris of having little sympathy for people who don't spend at least forty hours a week devouring the news. It's important to chase down facts but it's also important to be able pull those facts together and to tell a story that draws people in enough to start absorbing those facts. I still haven't read a good summary, for example, of either the Duke Cunningham story or the Jack Abramoff story (If anyone knows of a good summary of those two, feel free to leave a comment).

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