Strong opinions, weakly held

The impotence of political journalism

I have never agreed with anything so wholeheartedly as I do with this Matt Welch piece calling the media out for its obsession with “narratives”.


  1. Really? I think Welch is correct to observe that this preoccupation with bumper stickers has made political journalists even stupider than they need to be. But the piece overall is full of little libertarian “faith-promoting rumors,” like the casual assertion that “politics has always been the systematic organization of hatreds.”

    When my 74-year-old father goes out into the Arizona desert with Humane Borders to replenish the water supplies they leave on the tracks that migrants use to get into the US, he’s certainly engaged in a political act, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the “systematic organization of hatreds.” Quite the contrary, it has to do with actually believing that human beings need to love and take care of one another.

    Matt Welch is a perceptive dude. In the immediate wake of 9/11 his weblog seemed to me terrifically sane. It pains me to see him becoming such an everyday libertarian, complete with the obligatory contempt for “politics”, which really comes down to contempt for the idea of everyday people managing their disagreements and working stuff out rather than letting smart rich people make all the decisions.

  2. I think the article was pretty thin on the libertarian propaganda, especially for a column from a libertarian. I think that in using that quote, he was trying to distinguish between campaigning (which he refers to as politics in that context) and governing. There’s been a lot of media criticism lately focusing on the idea that one reason we have politicians in the “permanent campaign” mentality is that journalists treat politics as though it’s a permanent campaign, and I’m very sympathetic to that argument.

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