: In today’s Times, Andrew Kohut of Pew starts to recyle the well-worn meme about more partisan media yielding a more partisan nation. But at the end of his op-ed, he takes a 180 (if not a U-turn) and acknowledges that, no, Mr. Little, the sky may not be falling after all:
Still, perhaps all is not lost.
In his new book, “The Wisdom of Crowds,” James Surowiecki argues eloquently that “under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably intelligent, often smarter than the smartest people in them.” That’s because a diversity of experience, opinion and knowledge can render the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Whether a more partisan news environment undermines or enhances the cognitive diversity of American culture – or diminishes the “gut rationality” of the public – remains to be seen.
“The public’s judgment has been pretty good over the past 75 years, when we pretended that we didn’t have a partisan media,” said Maxine Isaacs, a lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “Everyone knew that we did. It’s now just more overt.”
Yup. When we care about issues — which aren’t necessarily the issues media think we should care about — we manage to get our smarts together and do pretty damned well, through eras of press of greater and lesser yellow hues. The Internet and cable choices and weblogs and all these new sources of — uh-oh — partisan media will, I believe, only help the process of democracy as we air more opinions and more diverse viewpoints. It’s called democracy.
: I’m watching John Kerry and John Edwards on 60 Minutes and can’t decide whether Edwards is the annointed attack dog or whether he is a camera/microphone hog. Edwards is at least coming off at the over-eager assistant, or the horny guy on the second date. The odd effect, for me, is that he’s making me like Kerry more by contrast. Parallel impact on the wives. So maybe Kerry did the really smart thing: He chose someone to make him look good.
: I’m back. My week-long nightmare of dial-up AOL is over. It feels so good when it stops hurting.
We went to our favorite vacation spot, Skytop in the Poconos, an island of civility in a sea of trailers. It was our tenth year there, so you can tell we like it and the kids love it. We dress up for dinner every night and ask for our favorite waiter, Fernando. We go on nature walks with John Serrao, who fearlessly picks up every log and rock to find us amazing critters. We swim. And I make believe I play golf. Gawd, I am bad at it. My father, trying not to watch here, said he broke a hundred. I said I broke the next hundred. I lost balls. I accidentally hit another player’s ball on the next fairway. I hit the damned ball so often I lost count. But we the family bonded. And we had fun.