Have you ever wondered what Aaron Sorkin’s “media diet” is? No? Neither have we, but he’s going to tell us. And guess what? He does not like this newfangled media stuff on this interwebs thingy. No, he likes his news the old-fashioned way: propaganda dressed up as objective journalism by “the media elite,” printed on dead trees, and thrown at his front door every morning. Why? Because he knows it’s news he can trust.
When I read the Times or The Wall Street Journal, I know those reporters had to have cleared a very high bar to get the jobs they have. When I read a blog piece from “BobsThoughts.com,” Bob could be the most qualified guy in the world but I have no way of knowing that because all he had to do to get his job was set up a website–something my 10-year-old daughter has been doing for 3 years. When The Times or The Journal get it wrong they have a lot of people to answer to. When Bob gets it wrong there are no immediate consequences for Bob except his wrong information is in the water supply now so there are consequences for us.
Yeah! Fuck that Bob guy. If he gets a story wrong — like, say, a story about how there are DEFINITELY ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT ABOUT IT weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and that is why we MUST go there and shock-and-awe ‘em to death — there are no immediate consequences for him being DEFINITELY ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT ABOUT IT wrong. Unlike that time New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who cleared a very high bar to be able to spread propaganda on the front page of the Times, was completely wrong about all those weapons her secret friends at the White House were pinky-swearing were really there, but at least she was held accountable when the Times editors finally got around to saying they were kinda sorta sorry about how they kinda sorta had “a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been.” Oh, except that their kinda sorta apology never even mentioned Judith Miller — and also Aaron Sorkin’s old bon-ee Maureen Dowd still has not been fired — but hey, whatev, that’s how accountability at our newspaper of record works we guess. We don’t know; we are just a dinky little website Mr. Sorkin would not approve of because we do not have to clear — or even pass! — any kind of bar at all.
Anyhoo … Sorkin has a lot of other kernels of wisdom to explain why he reads The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, and he watches CNN with the sound off (because that is a great place to find out exactly what isn’t happening), and Yahoo is his homepage (excuse us while we laugh our asses off at that), and why he is proud of his friend Dame Peggington Noonington, who “puts country before party and journalism before everything.” Which gives you everything you need to know about Aaron Sorkin, Media Critic.
The upside of web-based journalism is that everybody gets a chance. The downside is that everybody gets a chance.
As the saying goes, the problem with free speech is that you get what you pay for. Obviously there are great writers and thinkers publishing on the web and there have also been times when citizen journalists have made a positive contribution to the public discussion, but I think the cost/benefit is way out of whack.
Gosh, that’s deep, isn’t it? Thank you, Mr. Sorkin, for explaining journamalism to us and also the internets. No wonder your new show Newsroom — about the sanctity and nobility of archaic media institutions — sucks almost as bad as that last one, about the sanctity and nobility of fucking Saturday Night Live.