By disposition, I trust the functioning of establishment institutions and the decent intentions of my compatriots. In a country with rapidly falling social trust and growing political dysfunction, I try to hold on to my belief that some key organizations are doing their best. Until a few years ago, it was obvious to me that I can trust what is written in the newspaper or what I am told by public health authorities.
Now, I am losing that trust. I still believe that most people, including the journalists who write for established newspapers and the civil servants who staff federal agencies, are the heroes in their own stories. They genuinely mean well. And yet, I no longer trust any institution in American life to such an extent that I am willing to rely on its account of the world without looking into important matters on my own.
On cue, the reliably-ridiculous Guardian dims the lights, holds the flashlight under its chin, and warns us in a spooooky voice that the real danger to the well-informed citizen is…podcasts. Why, a cynic might get the impression that what these media outlets fear the most is not “misinformation,” which they are fine with as long as they have a monopoly in distribution, but competition. The other day, just to pick one immediate example, I listened to one of Joe Rogan’s podcasts from earlier in the autumn, a conversation with Douglas Murray. Today, I see that the august New York Times is elevating the discourse by publishing “news” items that shouldn’t even qualify as Facebook drama. It’s a stark contrast. The chasm between the two in terms of substance and quality is evident to anyone who cares to compare. And yet, not content with the embarrassing lack of integrity and professionalism they showed during the pandemic this year, let alone their absurd four-year LARPing as the Hashtag Resistance, members of the media decide at year’s end to treat us to congratulatory orgies and shameless acts of autofellatio. The asteroid can’t come soon enough for this dinosaur industry.