Clicking, Watching, Reading

US political theater as riveting as the debt-default negotiation doesn’t come along very often. The Senate Watergate hearings, in 1973. The House Judiciary Committee impeachment proceedings, in 1974. The Army-McCarthy hearings, in the summer of 1954. The Clinton impeachment shenanigans of 1998 and their anticlimax in 1999 never came close to this level.

EP spent the weekend with the newspapers and magazines.

It is true that developments nowadays break first on the Web and quickly acquire significance there; true, too, that nothing is more powerful than live television when it occurs (the budget negotiations are being conducted behind closed doors, the parties go before the cameras afterwards).

But it’s when the news has been ratified by the finitude of print that developments acquire their real meaning. Then the 24-hour cycle begins anew.

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After experimentally getting by with the digital version of The New York Times for two weeks, I’ve subscribed – under protest – to home delivery. And recognizing the increased scrutiny that the Rupert Murdoch media empire deserves, I’ve added the paper edition of The Wall Street Journal as well. The WSJ editorial page that the late Robert Bartley revitalized, starting in 1972, still sells newspapers. How has it changed under Muroch? It’s worth reading the paper more carefully to find out.

One response to “Clicking, Watching, Reading”

  1. There is a huge, unmentioned difference between the TV Political Dramas you mention as worth having watched and the present sputtering (debacle? – that remains to be seen, but the past three years strongly suggest so,) brouhaha that is the focus of our present attention. That difference is information: in your past examples, we, the unwashed public non-elite, were given the feeling that we knew pretty much what was going on “in the halls of the pols”. But this time we know only of the varied and varying proposals of one side only. We know nothing of the real content of the Democrat-Obama side, either because it is secret, or because there IS no content. While it is true that I am riveted to the goings-on in DC, it is not because of the inherent drama, but because of the importance of the outcome for our country and economy – what’s left of it.

    Thanks, as ever, for your weekly commentary,

    Charles A. Ellis, Winchester, MA

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