Subscriber Thread on the Media and UATX Event
Join me on Substack or in Dallas
My article on why the media is honest and good now has the second most comments of any Substack I’ve written yet, so as I suspected people have very strong opinions on this issue. Steve Sailer wrote a response, and I have a response thread to him on Twitter. See also Bryan Caplan’s reaction. I think that Bryan is right on the “current thing.” It would’ve been better if the media just didn’t cover terrorism at all, and the same is true for covid, at least since the vaccines became available. But I don’t know if this generalizes. The economist James Miller makes an interesting point related to nuclear power, though I don’t know if it’s true. Maybe I’ll write more of a response later. Anyway, I don’t know if “nothing” is really an option. People are always going to be curious about the world and will probably read the National Enquirer and think it’s real if they don’t have the news media.
No matter how you feel, paid subscribers are invited to talk to me about the article Wednesday night at 6ET/3PT, and then again at 10ET/7PT for those who can’t make the first one. I’ll be there about an hour each time. The way it works is if you’re a paid subscriber, you’ll get a link when the thread starts either through e-mail or an app notification, and it’s going to be sort of like a Reddit AMA thing. I’ve never used it before, so that’s at least my understanding. I’ve been looking for new ways to provide benefits to paid subscribers while still not paywalling any of the articles, and this seems like it meets that purpose.
Also, this is happening.
This means I’ll be in Dallas for a UATX (formerly University of Austin) event this summer as part of its Forbidden Courses series. I’m going to do a panel with Rob Henderson and Steve Hsu. Topic is TBD. You apply to the program (deadline March 8), and then if accepted you get to attend our discussion. Note that my event is during Session 1, I’m unsure if you can enroll in Session 2 and still show up (UPDATE: You can in fact attend the lectures of a different session). Before and after the discussion I suspect I’ll be standing around and stuff so it’s a time to socialize with all of us in attendance. Tentative time is June 21, 4:00-5:30 PM central.
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This discussion about "the media" deserves more clarity. We can appreciate good reporting the media does, and an intelligent reader capable of identifying ideology and "de-biasing" articles can learn a lot from the MSM. But this is different from the question of what effect media has on society. In addition to simply informing the public, the media plays some role as the information or propaganda arm of the state (and is thus responsive to state power, e.g. the military-industrial complex). The liberal media is also a consensus forming instrument that bridges ideas from politics, culture and academia in creating the evolving liberal consensus. In playing these roles, the media uses (correct) facts but reports them in a highly selective way to develop particular narratives. I would argue that these narratives, in the long run, are more important than factual reporting. Certain narratives have been quite destructive (anti-nuclear, COVID panic, root causes). I think the correct approach is not to attack the media per se as an institution but ban certain narratives, the "DeSantis strategy."
James Miller is actually making a great point. I had forgotten how badly European media had mangled the Fukushima aftermath; most likely Merkel wouldn't have closed down nuclear plants if not for the media outrage (which, to her, has always been indistinguishable from the vox populi). German MSM is a net-negative actor for the world for this reason alone.
Has US media been better on this? I wasn't paying attention back then; by now the wind has turned and we're seeing fairly positive coverage of nuclear power.