The Geocentric Theory of Political Media

by on October 11, 2010 · 2 comments

“There’s no question [cable news is] contributing to the splintering of the political system and the means by which people get information about that system,” said Robert Thompson, who runs the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University. “If there’s no standard base line of fact and reporting, where can the conversation go?”

This, from “Cable News Chatter is Changing the Electoral Landscape,” by Howard Kurtz and Karen Tumulty in today’s Washington Post.

Cable news and, of course, the Internet are definitely splintering the media environment. But there’s a big difference between the political system and the means by which people get information about it. Why on earth should there be a standard base line on which all political conversation must rest?

Speaking of earth, people used to think that the earth was at the center of the universe. Other planets moved erratically with relation to ours, and that was difficult to explain. Now we know that it is the sun at the center of our solar system, and the movements of planets, stars, and galaxies have been rationalized.

Many of us occupy different political and ideological planets, some of which have similar orbits, some very different. Slowly, sometimes, we can align our orbits by inquiring and debating about the nature of humankind, what is good, and the social systems that produce the greatest good for the greatest number.

Finding out that we should have these debates is not a threat to the political system. It’s a threat to the geocentric model of the political system, in which the three major networks provided the “standard base line of fact and reporting.”

The media universe is still not splintered enough, in my opinion. But, increasingly, the conversation will more easily go wherever it is supposed to go, unhindered by the false authority of a small number of news executives.

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