In his column today Jonah Goldberg places the phenomenon of blogging in the context of the development of conservative opinion journalism and talk radio: “The medium isn’t the message, actually.” Although Jonah expresses limited enthusiasm for the phenomemon, he kindly mentions us — and I don’t think it’s only because I joined the unanimous group of Cornerites urging Rich Lowry to give Jonah a raise when we had pizza and beer with Rich in St. Paul last spring.
Jonah rightly locates the conservative bloggers on a line that begins with the founding of National Review in 1955, continues with the editorial reign of Robert Bartley at the Wall Street Journal, and carries on with the growth of conservative talk radio. I personally feel steeped not only in National Review, but in Bill Buckley’s brilliant media criticism in The Unmaking of a Mayor (now sadly out of print) and elsewhere. Moreover, writing for Power Line, I have always kept in mind the model of the reported editorial that is the staple of the tradition that Bartley raised to the heights at the Journal.
As the title of his piece suggests, however, Jonah seems to me to miss the power of the medium. The immediacy and interactivity facilitated by the blog and the Internet allowed the exposure of the 60 Minutes fraud within hours. Nothing like it had happened before; it seems to me to represent a historic event. I think something is missing from Jonah’s thought-provoking analyisis here. If the medium isn’t the message, I don’t know why not.
Rocket Man and I will have much more to say on this subject at the Center of the American Experiment’s “Dan Rather Retirement Party” at the Mariott City Center Hotel in Minneapolis on March 9 (click here). Tickets are $30 and include a buffet dinner. Please join us if you can.
UPDATE: Reader Mary Daly writes to set me straight on Jonah’s column:
I should first tell you that I’m the person (ordinary, no-special-influence L-Dotter variety) who e-mailed Lucianne Goldberg at the crack of dawn, after reading Jonah’s column at the Townhall Web site, and told her that it should be a Must Read for the last paragraph alone.
Having confessed that, may I suggest that you have missed the point of his essay? It’s not about Technology, per se. I don’t think Jonah misses ‘the power of the medium’ at all , and believe that he would be the first to agree that Internet availability (and accompanying speed) is the launchpad of the Information revolution.
Seems to me that in this essay he’s simply focused on calling attention to:
– the creativity, necessitated by the leftist bias of the MSM (MainStreamMastadons), that conservatives have employed over the years to get out their message
– the fact that the leftist response is devoid of similar creativity. They are copycats, without alternative ideas, who are simply aping the tactics of conservatives (magazines, radio, blogs) in hope of similar success. They have the same technology conservatives do, but are failing miserably for want of ideas
The whole technology thing, as we used to say at IBM, is the subject of another meeting.