We need a grown up Media

Maybe David Brooks can do for the left and right media “mavens” what Obama is trying to do for the Democrats. That is: help them leave high school and grow up. Mr. Brooks must be lonely, never being invited to all the hall way fights. It must be terrible not to be among the gifted verbal contortionists shouting out the latest gossip, rumors, and name calling nonsense. How can he have any fun if he doesn’t learn how to tear quotes out of context and whip would be warriors into a frenzy of fanatical fratricide?

I hope he takes solace in knowing that he is doing what the rest of the grown ups appreciate. That is: carefully, with clear thought, putting the pieces together, and then deliberately putting them back into context. Without context there is nothing that can be called information. Fractured formulations won’t do. And saying something over and over again does not make it true, and certainly does not make it interesting. And pretending that telling us from morning til night what one of the pundit pack peddled the day before is not news.

What is happening seems easy enough to understand. Those of us who would like to increase our understanding of this dangerous time we live have to go mining for the gold we seek; and it is more and more difficult to find. Meanwhile, the high school sophomores wave their ironclad convictions just like so many sixteen year olds having just obtained their driver’s license: “I know what I’m doing, I’m not driving too fast, everyone else drives over the limit and that damn guy should have seen me and gotten out of my way.”

Only, in this world, at this time, crashing into each other is getting old, and the grown ups soon will leave the streets, retreating into their homes while the run amoks continue to light matches, first to fire crackers, and then without warning, to sticks of dynamite. When the generals face reluctantly into the terrible truth that they are all that’s left of order and civility they will turn to the rest of the grown ups. And they will find the support they need to impose the kind of discipline and control that those who should have known better refused to exercise upon themselves. The lesson of adolescence is how to internalize the rules of responsibility in order to play this delicate game of freedom. When enough members of a society refuse to learn that lesson, they discover in dismay and despair a harder lesson. Too many members of the media who command the flow of information abuse that privilege to further their own personal agendas. They are beating their drums while they lead us down the road to perdition.

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