Monday, February 14, 2005

The Aristocracy of Pull...

Eason Jordan Resigns Amidst Blarring Condemnation of the Messengers


“We are at the dawn of a new age...”

“We are breaking up the vicious tyranny of economic power. We will set men free of the rule of the dollar. We will release our spiritual aims from dependence on the owners of material means. We will liberate our culture from the stranglehold of the profit-chasers. We will build a society dedicated to higher ideals, and we will replace the aristocracy of money by—” ...

“—the aristocracy of pull,” said a voice beyond the group - Ayn Rand

Welcome Hugh Hewitt listeners/readers. Blogging has been rather light as late for a variety of reasons. Home for two weeks with the boys, I have been concentrating on the duties of Mr. Mom. Teaching one to coo and roll, while experiencing the genesis of conversation with another and the challenges of potty training proves to be much more of an endeavor than tracking the foolishness of a Network News Executive and his enablers. It is certainly more endearing as well. In addition, time has come for me to complete the rigors of the NCARB to transcend the final obstacle to professional licensing. Its going to be an interesting year. Between Dueler88 and other Sandmen recruits, we'll try to keep things here interesting. Dueler is a profound analyst and thinker while Badger is a poet cloaked in warrior's prose.

When last I posted, the Eason Jordan issue was poised at the end of one week of deliberate ignorance on the part of Old Busted Media, beginning another. Hugh introduced the story to Chris Matthews and the panel on his Sunday show - the previous Sunday.
Howard Kurtz finally broke his silence in the Washington post. Larry Kudlow flirted with the issue on his show and his blog. But, several bloggers and a few Freepers continued a relentless pursuit of the story's details last week, verifying its accuracy and qualifying its implications. Senators Frank and Dodd expressed tardy outrage. If the story had been a test of their political reflexes, they'd be rejected 4F. The story became as much a tale of selective discretion as irrational lunacy. Bravo to Hugh Hewitt, Captain's Quarters, Powerline, Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, the team at Easongate, JayRosen, Jim Geraghty, RogerLSimon, LaShawn Barber, SisypheanMusings, AustinBay, LittleGreenFootballs, and BlankNoOne for his follow-up on the postings at Resonant Information.

Here, over a week later, and
Jordan's quiet resignation announcement released in the veritable dead of a Friday evening news cycle preceeding Fat Tuesday, has finally sparked the beginning of a firestorm... with the blogosphere the target of collective indignation on the part of the aristocracy of the annointed: here, here, here, and here (HT's to Hewitt, Easongate, and MichelleM.). Sadly, many see this scandal as a free speech issue with Eason Jordan as the victim of a neo-macarthyan witch hunt, on the part of Conservative bloggers eager to silence dissent. Curiously ignored in that bit of absurdity is the fact that it was bloggers who have for over two weeks been calling for full public disclosure of Eason Jourdan's exchange at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Not only have traditional fingers of the Old Media remained clasped in their collective silence, but even the folks at Davos have refused to release the audio or video recordings of the panel proceedings. Furthermore, few outside the New Media even seem to be curious about the actually statement much less interested in allowing Jordan his moment of free and open disclosure and dissent, by demanding public broadcast. Silence has been imposed by those who wish to shove this issue down the Memory Hole.

In my last post, I made the point that was reiterated on Hugh's show today, that the silence regarding Eason Jordan's statements accusing U.S. soldiers of targeting and torturing journalists in Iraq was, in itself, a conspiracy of sorts. Conspiracy?! Clearly, it is not a concerted effort on the part of diverse members of Western media and the folks at Davos to hide Jordan's scandalous remarks. Rather, their silence is the product of a collective sensibility that simply rejects scrutiny of their credibility. Journalism, like education, bureaucracy, the Arts, environmental and social sciences, ostensibly transcend qualification. That is why I liken them to an aristocracy of sorts. Ayn Rand once described this growing regime of influence as an Aristocracy of Pull whereby achievement, effort and integrity is ultimately replaced by an integrated caste of patronage, dependency, and influence.

In his discussion in
Ideas on Liberty, Thomas M. Wilson sums it up this way...

In any system that overemphasizes status, personal connections, in fact, become central to day-to-day life. Whom you know and how they regard you become the principal questions. Without other measures of achievement, manipulation is essential.

Public bureaucracies epitomize reliance on status considerations. How ironic it is to apply the term “merit system” to the bureaucracy, where one is seldom rewarded on the basis of merit, accomplishment, or achievement. Those in the “merit system” are those who are never fired, almost cannot be; who are never demoted (and rarely promoted); and are usually given raises on the basis of non-achievement criteria (longevity, seniority, position, and personal connections)...

The temptations of status are difficult to resist. Why struggle to achieve if I can be rewarded for who I am rather than what I do, especially if I can rig the system in my favor? There is no shortage of Americans who want more importance attached to status-based criteria for distributing rewards. Ironically, many of those we call liberals are constantly trying to strengthen status criteria, especially that of group membership. This is usually hidden in the rhetoric of affirmative action programs, “rights” talk, and the like. It finds its way into demands to abolish standardized testing for jobs and academic evaluations, and “gender norming.” Let us, they say, choose those we will reward on the basis of their officially approved status as a member of some group.

Rather himself hit the tip of an iceberg; and an unavoidably titanic one at that. The shock of witnessing the deposing of one of Media's titans, may have been far too real and intimidating even for folks at the Wall Street Journal. Nevermind the acts of malfeasance that earned Dan the professional guillotine or that Jordan threaded the noose for himself back when he operated as Saddam's personal CNN press agent; concealing atrocities from the world. The annointed should remain beyond reproach and the discrimination of rational judgement, it would seem. But, separating the act of conveying a concept from the public's responsibility to evaluate its precepts undermines the value of discourse itself. The defenders of free speech, on the one hand, desire the right to express themselves without consequence, or question, and without corresponding judgment on the part of the audience, while demanding that audience. On the other hand, those engaged in exercising their fundamental inalienable right, trade in the free market of ideas where desires for exposure and consumption depend on consistency, quality and integrity. Scrutiny and judgment are the mechanisms for success... or failure. Aristocracy was formally and violently deposed in America over 200 years ago. Free markets of speech, like capital, are built not on demands for respect, but on the consent of the genuinely respectful.

Update from dueler88, 16:30 Lima:

You are too kind, Atos. From my point of view, thoughtful analysis is critical in maintaining the "high road" when discussing issues with Leftists. I just call 'em as I see 'em.

The Thomas Wilson quote is good stuff. Too many examples of irony in a "merit system" exist all through society, so many that it has become a sad prerequisite of becoming "successful." One hates to play the game, but must in order to maintain an upward career path. One can only hope that enough genuine relationships based upon true merit and respect start cropping up along the way that one's day-to-day activities maintain a basis in what one does rather than who one knows.

Regarding Mr. Jordan. He can say whatever he wants - as a private citizen. What is at the center of the issue here, though, is denial of any existence of bias. Is it so difficult to understand that EVERYBODY runs information through a personal filter? Surely it must be incumbent upon a journalist to understand that the filter exists in everyone. It is also, then, incumbent upon a journalist to endeaver to overcome this filter, IF one is to maintain objectivity. Most media consumers understand this - the media purveyors are only just coming around to the realization.

The first step to overcoming a problem is recognizing it. That's it, isn't it? The MSM are so addicted to information-based power that they are in denial that biased dissemination of it is a major problem. If only there was a Betty Ford Clinic for power-addicted journalists . . .

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