Who Let Him Out?

Joking aside, Al Gore's manic speech yesterday demanding that various Bush administration officials be sacked was a sad spectacle. You can't help thinking that Al Senior's relentless pushing of his only son and namesake had a profoundly negative impact. I tend to agree with John Podhoretz of the New York Post, who believes that pore Mr. Gore is genuinely cracked. Look at the disturbing picture of Gore speaking, posted on Drudge and Lucianne, and be thankful that this guy wasn't subjected to the pressure of being president on Sept. 11.

Why I Disagree With St. Paul (and John Paul) on Gossip

Even somebody in an infallible office can get things all wrong: Pope John Paul II's call for regulations to ensure that media is truthful and offers undistorted views of the family and morality shows how badly the Vatican understands how the media works. "Thanks to modern technologies, many families can directly access vast resources of communication and information and take advantage of it for education, cultural enrichment and spiritual growth," the pope is quoted saying. But the pope adds that the media can "cause grave harm to the family when they offer an inadequate or even distorted vision of life."

If the pope is saying that parents should monitor what their kids watch on TV, that's fine. But otherwise the best regulation for the media is.competition. I don't like any attempt to regulate the press. That's why I am a big supporter of the blogosphere and even of the positive role of gossip (yes, I know: It's the one subject on which I disagree with anti-gossip epistler St. Paul) as an astringent in the public arena.

A good piece in Reason magazine makes the (counterintuitive) point that gossip is good and that the circulation of gossip in places like the Drudge Report is actually a benefit to journalism. Reason used the rumor that John Kerry had had an affair with an intern, an item that made a brief splash on Drudge before retiring into oblivion, to make the point:

By day five [of the Kerry-intern rumor] it was all over but the shouting about What This Means for Journalism.

"There definitely is a media food chain," the oft-quoted, dour media critic Tom Rosenstiel told The Boston Globe's Mark Jurkowitz in one of the dozens of ethics postmortems. "What you get is...the bad journalism driving out the good."

Rosenstiel has it backward. If there was indeed no affair (and Drudge continues to suggest there was, pointing out that Kerry's oral denial is much weaker than Monica Lewinsky's signed affidavit), having the story vetted and slapped down by elite news organizations before it could gain political traction should be hailed as a triumph of substance over scandal.

I've always been amused by the notion among some Catholics that the Church could somehow "harness" the media and make it a force for good. But really, the media is (as it should be) a system of competitive people trying to get good stories.

Don't get me wrong: I think many members of the media are biased and sometimes despicable. I just happen to think that the only antidote is more competition. FOX is a good start.

The Burden of History

Was a Spanish bishop right to remove a 14th century statue of St. James "the Moor Slayer" from his cathedral? Read the Christian Science Monitor's intriguing piece on Spain's debate about the relationship of its Christian and Islamic heritages.

Relax! The Christians Won't Get You!

I was intrigued by a piece by my dear colleague-in-crime, the Swami, who noted that a group of conservative Christians are going to try to take over a state.

Quoth the Swamster:

"ChristianExodus.org has been established to coordinate the move of 50,000 or more Christians to a single conservative state in the U.S. for the express purpose of reestablishing constitutional governance."

Several southern states were mentioned as places for these Christians to take over and establish their nefarious plan.