In Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw is feeling Barack Obama's pain in an article titled "Imagine the Tweets During the Cuban Missile Crisis." The pull quote was "The JFK who charmed the press would have had a harder time in today's media world."
Translation: JFK wouldn't have had as many eager myth-makers as he did. Brokaw despaired about how he was working on a JFK special while observing the shutdown -- "food fight, meltdown" -- between Republicans and Obama. He couldn't help but recall the good old days before New Media challenged liberal orthodoxy:
50 years ago the major national information sources consisted of a handful of big-city daily newspapers, a few weekly news periodicals and two dominant TV network evening newscasts [ABC didn't count].
Now the political news comes to at us 24/7 on cable, through the air, the digital universe, on radio and print. And it comes to us more and more as opinion rather than a recitation of the facts as best they can be determined. News is a hit-and-run game, for the most, part with too little accountability for error....
Watching the recent government shutdown debate, I tried to imagine how Kennedy's Bay of Pigs disaster -- the invasion of Cuba with a small surrogate army in April 1961 -- might have played out in today's Benghazi climate. How long would it be before a national chorus of critics arose, demanding his impeachment? Can you imagine the wall-to-wall, channel-to-channel blog-to-blog tsunami during the 12 days of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962? That's when Kennedy had arguably his finest hour as commander in chief, cooling off potentially catastrophic war fever with imaginative diplomacy.
Then Brokaw recalled the civil rights movement during JFK and how it might have been overmediated. The rant against New Media continued:
The virtual town square has been wired and expanded -- but the question remains whether more voices make for a healthier political climate. With a keystroke, we can easily move from an online credible source of information to a website larded with opinion or deliberately malicious erroneous claims. Have we simply enlarged the megaphone, cranked up the decibel level, and rallied the like-minded without regard to facts or consequences?
Brokaw then tried to claim "I much prefer the contemporary news and information culture" after spending several paragraphs trashing it. Don't buy it. He prefers the good old days, when elites could carefully filter out the inconvenient information.
Brokaw isn't admitting that NBC News is "larded with opinion" and that under Brokaw, it was guilty of "deliberately malicious erroneous claims" -- remember Dateline placing incendiary devices under GM trucks?