Keeping America Safe From the Ranters
As the Elders of the media die, who'll replace them?
When William Safire died the other day, we lost one of the Elders of journalism and the argumentative arts. We've been losing a lot of them lately: Walter Cronkite, Bob Novak, Don Hewitt, Irving Kristol. "The stars seem to be going out one by one," said Howard Stringer at Cronkite's memorial.
Who are the Elders? They set the standards. They hand down the lore. They're the oldest and wisest. By proceeding through the world each day with dignity and humanity, they show the young what it is that should be emulated. They're the tribal chieftains. This role has probably existed since caveman days, because people need guidance and encouragement, they need to be heartened by examples of endurance. They need to be inspired.
We are in a generational shift in the media, and new Elders are rising. They're running the networks and newspapers, they own the Web sites, they anchor the shows. What is their job?
It's to do what the Elders have always done, but now more than ever.
A few days ago, I was sent a link to a screed by MSNBC's left-wing anchorman Ed Schultz, in which he explained opposition to the president's health-care reform. "The Republicans lie. They want to see you dead. They'd rather make money off your dead corpse. They kind of like it when that woman has cancer and they don't have anything for us." Next, a link to the syndicated show of right-wing radio talker Alex Jones, on the subject of the U.S. military, whose security efforts at the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh show them to be agents and lackeys of the New World Order. "They are complete enemies of America. . . . Our military's been taken over. . . . This is the end of our country." Later, "They'd love to kill 10,000 Americans," and, "The republic is falling right now."
This, increasingly, is the sound of our political conversation.
It is not new to call this kind of thing destructive, though it is. It is a daily agitating barrage that coarsens and inflames. It tears the national fabric. But it could wind up doing worse than that.
Democracy cannot healthily endure without free and unfettered debate. It's our job to watch, critique and question, and, being us, to do it in colorful terms.
But knowing where the line is, matters. Seeing clearly the lay of the land, knowing the facts of the country and your countrymen, matters.
Which gets us back to Safire and Cronkite and Novak and the rest. They knew where the line was. They were tough guys who got in big fights, but they had a sense of responsibility towards the country, and towards its culture. They, actually, were protective toward it. They made mistakes, but they were solid. [...]
It's worth reading the whole thing. We sure DO need some elders in the media.
I think the far Left, in it's desire to destroy the status quo, have coarsened and polarized political debate as part of their plan to destabilize the existing order. Some on the Right are now buying into it, and playing tit-for-tat. It's a trap set by the Left, that should be resisted.
This November 2008 interview with Peggy Noonan is also interesting:
Grace Will Lead Me Home?
Looking toward the future — conservative and otherwise.