Placeholder on Atlas Shrugged Guy: Uncle!

I have arrived in New York, during a welcoming blizzard, to find the mailbag blowing apart at the seams with responses to the Atlas Shrugged Guy.

1) No more! I'm grateful, but enough.

2) By around 11pmam EST tonighttomorrow I'll serve up a unified-field-theory of this topic: why I quoted him to begin with, a sample of what people have said in reply, and what I'll know later on about his real plans. Then I will close the mailbag flap and move on.

3) See line #1.

4) To amuse yourself in the meantime, by all means read Conor Friedersdorf's excellent item on how the closed information loop of the Fox/Rove-centric right wing, which for so long has been a message-discipline plus for the right wing, now is a serious strategic minus. Short version of the argument: people inside the information bubble are so unaware of surrounding real-world reality that they can't adapt to it in time. Viz the apparently genuine surprise of many on the right that their side lost last night.

4a) With that in mind, consider this item at Media Matters, which directly bears on a member of this closed information loop who is employed by the Washington Post. Today she discloses that she had been deliberately spinning news during the campaign -- saying things different from what she actually thought, so as to reflect better on her favored candidate. For instance, she tells us now that various speeches etc were unimpressive, but in real time during the campaign she touted them as turning points for her candidate's success. I am not aware of a comparable case at another mainstream news organization.

Many, many people in all parts of the media have their preferences and biases, which they advance -- usually in all sincerity -- in the way they approach and explain the news. I can name you five mainstream columnists whose hearts are obviously with the Democrats, and five who are obviously with the Republicans. But I believe that what they're writing or saying reflects what they actually think. I don't know of another staff member of a mainstream news organization who has so blithely admitted to telling the public things different from what the journalist actually thought, so as to boost the cause. Is the Post entirely comfortable with this? 

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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