Placeholder on Atlas Shrugged Guy: Uncle!

By James Fallows

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? 

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/11/placeholder-on-atlas-shrugged-guy-uncle/264945/