This is what I kept thinking this weekend: if I wasn’t online, an avid blogger and reader of blogs, and if I didn’t frequent the New York Times, I wouldn’t know a damn thing about the phenomenon in Iran. It would feel like just any other story from the “crazy Middle East.” I wouldn’t have seen images of the streets of green-clad protestors. I wouldn’t have seen the beatings or the fires or read the twitter feeds or the first hand accounts. I wouldn’t have seen the youtube videos. And lest it be forgotten, the news most people receive if they receive any at all is from their televisions.
I don’t have television, but I was at the gym this weekend and flipped through all the channels and literally there was almost nothing to be found. There were talking-heads opining. There was Bill Kristol on Fox, doing the whole Kristol song and dance. The only place I could find it was at the Dish where Andrew et al have been doing what can only be described as brilliant coverage, and at some other blogs and sites like Juan Cole or Michael Totten (including the NYTs).
Here’s what irks me to no end, though. I “watch” this all go down via the blogs and youtube and it is gripping. It’s emotional – or at least I feel emotional watching it. It’s surprising and dramatic and frightening and hopeful. It’s, as they say, great TV, only it’s not on TV. You can find it only in soundbites and under the veil of talk-shows, or confined to the small segments the networks were able to devote to it. But this is the sort of news that should be on all day.
I mean, we’ve toyed with the idea of going to war with these people. Don’t we at least owe it to them to watch what may very well be a democratic revolution there? And if we, as a society, can’t turn off the other noise and actually take the time to learn about these historic events across the world, then maybe we aren’t in a responsible position to go to war in the first place. If we are that apathetic, not just individually, but as a culture, then we sure as hell aren’t ready to even begin considering an invasion, or discussing the potentiality of aiding an Israeli strike.
We are witnessing two revolutions here – one, the “green revolution” in Iran which may or may not be a success, and the other the technology and news information revolution. We are witnessing the unwitting suicide and slow death of the news media as we know it, as they cave to ratings and apathy rather than getting out there and covering a real story, as they aid and abbet the numbing and dumbing down of the American people.
If you were reading the Dish this weekend you were living in a different universe from someone watching Fox or MSNBC. There is very little difference between no information and misinformation. That is what the American people are getting – a starvation diet of no news and lots of empty carbs. Fatty, salty food with no nutritional value. And we’re too damn apathetic to demand better. There is a great divide in the decisions we make as an informed populace vs the decisions we make as an uninformed or misinformed one. The people I know who rely on the MSM for their news consistently know less about what actually happened than my blogger friends do, and have less nuanced opinions about these events. That’s a damn shame if you ask me. It leads to the support of bad policy.
And seriously, even if you’re not a fan of Sullivan, you should be reading his blog right now. Those guys are all over this.