Yesterday I read that on Friday, President Bush sat down with a group of “milbloggers” to discuss how things are going in Iraq, and more importantly, get his version of the truth out to the public without its being filtered by people who give a crap about whether or not what he’s said is true or even makes any sense.
This is, actually, what all the crap about bypassing the MSM comes down to. The relationship between the press and politicians need not be adversarial, but it is pretty close to the relationship between the press and its advertisers. In both cases, the media makes its living by delivering readers, viewers, some sort of audience, to organisations which wish to lie to them. Advertisers pay cash; politicians compete with each other in this market largely in other ways. Usually, they pay in power, or the opportunity of profit, to the owners of the newspaper.
Because these two markets were for a long time largely independent, savvy media were able to play off one against the other. But now the terms of trade are shifting. Politicians can get the committed audiences they really want without going through sceptical, neutral, or independent intermediaries.
Of course, like most forms of voluntary organisation, this was worked out centuries ago by the churches.