Advertisers only need to reach that same audience so many times. When every magazine is elitist and when the elite is narrow and inbred, there are suddenly too many llamas in a single paddock. It’s hard to engage readers when they’re not engaged with any one thing; when they’re reading six sites and glancing through your latest Fareed Zakaria or Andrew Sullivan screed just to be able to tell their friends that they read it.
The media know that they have many options and that their readers are barely paying attention, so they caper like court jesters to try and capture their attention with another showstopping attack on Republicans. But even as they trot out Andrew Sullivan or Tina Fey or any of the other players in the vanishing line between entertainment and journalism, they know that the attention is fleeting. Today its gay Obama cover makes the headlines, but what will it do next week?
An inbred elite is dull and in constant need of sensation. It has a brief attention span because it is always bored with itself. It feeds off a diet of constant mockery to reassure itself of its own fragile superiority. It wants the appearance of ideas, without the hard work of digesting them. Most of all, it wants the legitimization of its own right to rule. The theme of every elite is its own superiority, and the one we are saddled with is no different. Its message is that it has lifted up our society from a dark time of repression to a new era of enlightenment and that only it can lead us into the light.
America is a foreign country to them. More so than Indonesia or Pakistan. And the 1 percent that they still speak to feels much the same way. A foreign colony on American shores that disdains the natives with their queer morals and prejudices, and fears what might happen if they should rise up against their rightful rulers. That leaves the rulers with little choice but to redouble the propaganda barrage defending their right to rule. And that means another Newsweek cover coming up.
Newsweek might as well become a full-time Pakistani magazine because it isn’t an American magazine anymore. It’s the David Remnick New Yorker with all the class of the Tina Brown New Yorker. Its only signature feature is the transcontinental sneer and that’s the signature feature of the entire media class, which knows more about Indonesia than it does about Indiana, and believes that the problem with America is all the Americans.
But even that is a sham because not only do they know nothing about Indiana, but they also know very little about Indonesia. The pretense at being globetrotting journalists that fills the pages of magazines and newspapers is a sham. Theirs is not the age of the classic correspondents who could cross a war zone and telegraph in a report. It’s the age of media trolls who put a picture of a nuclear-armed North Korean leader under the headline, “Lil Kim.” The Muslim Brotherhood can twirl them around its fingers because they’re fools who can spend years in a country without learning anything more about it than the common knowledge at the expat bar.
The only function of the media is to spin talking points into something more glamorous. they always know what the story should be. The only thing to do is dress it up and take it out for a night on the town. But no one reads it or pays attention to it anymore because it has nothing to say. The antics of Time or Newsweek are signs of desperation from media brats who know that the only way to hang on to their vanishing audience is by clowning around for them.
They can’t engage the audience, no matter what they promise advertisers, because they have no intellectual or journalistic capital with which to engage them. All they can do is tell their audience what it already believes in an entertaining way. That is the traditional function of a court jester and it is the new function of the media, which may style themselves as “Protectors of Democracy,” but are in reality just the tyrant’s capering fools in the rainbow halo.
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