The moderate revolution?
: Howard Kurtz writes that blog coverage of the moderate revolution was filled with anger from the right and left while mainstream media celebrated the moderation (as did I… apparently because I am either strange or mainstream, take your pick). He’s onto something:
It was the perfect storm for the blogosphere, an issue on which both right-wingers and left-wingers could rise up in rare unison and smite the craven offenders.
Both sides hated, castigated and otherwise took a dim view of the last-minute deal this week that averted a nuclear showdown over Senate filibusters.
Let the mainstream media praise as bipartisan statesmen the mushy moderates who cobbled together the compromise. Many bloggers were infuriated, castigating the so-called Gang of 14 (and especially John McCain) as knaves and turncoats.
It was another reminder, as if one were needed, of the yawning gap between the establishment press, which loves moderates and moderation, and the cyberworld, which tends to be driven by partisan passions.
But I think that says more about the media than about the nation.
I do believe (because I want to) that the people prefer Congress to shut up and do its work and not fight from the fringes and that the people are inherently moderate — or at least the wisdom of the crowd is — and that’s why no party takes over the country for too long (yet).
In that sense, I think, neither the blogs nor mainstream press reflect the people, who talk, think, fret, and argue about Congress a helluva lot less than either reporters or bloggers.
What this split in coverage really indicates, as Kurtz says, is the essential difference between big and citizens’ media (and I’m repeating myself): because newspapers are institutional and blogs are personal, newspapers try to be dispassionate while blogs are passionate.
And that’s what we see in the coverage of what I hope to call the moderate revolution: Blogs speak up when they have cause to be pissed about or to celebrate over but rarely to be moderate and thus dull. The big press has to cover the story and thinks it has to see both sides; it likes to show both sides yelling but, of course, it doesn’t want to be caught yelling itself.
And, in the end, it’s hard to get a red-faced rant in defense of moderation, compromise, and the middleground, though I’d like to try to figure out how.