I have long marveled at liberals’ air of superiority and lack of self-reflection, which have always been particularly evident among liberal media elites and journalists. They tend to view themselves as sacrosanct and above scrutiny.
Perhaps this attitude sprang from the British and, later, American tradition that the press is the Fourth Estate. It doesn’t just serve to inform the people and make them better contributors to the democratic process. It is the virtual fourth branch of government, operating as a watchdog on the formal branches to further check their potential abuses of power.
It is a heady concept to believe you function to keep the powerful in check. It is even more so when no one has ever told you that you, too, need to be kept in check. As a result, some journalists seem to believe that what they do is so important that nothing will deter them from ambitiously exposing to the public every titillating morsel of information, even if that information might unnecessarily harm people or the national interest. To some of the most self-righteous among them, catering to the public’s “right to know” is like an unbending religious ritual that transcends every other value in the universe and justifies the vomiting of all information, no matter its actual value to the public or its likelihood of gratuitously harming others.
If you’ve ever watched a panel interview of major-network talking heads, you have heard their professions that they have a crucial role in keeping our government honest. That’s fine as far as it goes, but it is rarely tempered by humility and an awareness that they, too, are capable of corruption and vulnerable to the trappings of power. They are astonished that anyone would ever question their noble character and honorable intentions. It is as if they are saying, “As to the dissemination of news, we are gods, and gods do not need oversight.”
You could especially see their indignation at the rise of the alternative media — e.g., conservative talk radio, Fox News Channel, blogs, other Internet news sources and conservative speech on a variety of social media platforms. Surely, you’ve seen some of the major news media figures of yesteryear shaking their heads in consternation over the lack of proper journalistic processes in the alternative media, which, they contend, has resulted in sloppy and biased reporting.