Thursday, March 25, 2010

Who Originally Championed Eltism in America

Who originally championed elitism in America? An interesting question in and of itself if you ask me, but more so interesting once you examine it through the prism of media and how elitism has become not only a political science but an industry in this country. Especially as it concerns the media.

I was listening to Glenn Beck's radio program earlier today and he was attempting to explain why the majority of media in this country is so determinedly liberal. He attributed much of it to the teachings of a man named Walter Lippmann. A man who it seems has become the iconic figure of reason to all journalists in this country over the past seventy five years. A man whose reasoning and philosophy (according to Beck) are taught to this day as required reading to all journalism majors.

So when I returned home today, I did a little research on Mr. Lippmann and the information that I soon found, speaks volumes to precisely what Beck was referring to.

Wiki reference
According to Lippmann, however, the public does have one specific role, one particular capacity, which is to intervene during a moment of social disturbance or “a crisis of maladjustment.” In such a crisis, “It is the function of public opinion to check the use of force” (74) by using its own force. Public opinion responds to failures in the administration of government by deciding—through voting—whether to throw one party out in favor or another. The public, however, moves to such action not by its own volition but by being led there by those insiders who can identify and assess the situation for them. The public is incapable of deciding rationally about whether there is a crisis: “Public opinion is a rational force … It does not reason, investigate, invent, persuade, bargain or settle” (69). It can only exert force upon those who are capable of direct action by making a judgment as to which group is better able to address the problem at hand: “When men take a position in respect to the purposes of others they are acting as a public” (198). This check on arbitrary force is the most that can be expected of the public. It is the highly circumscribed but “special purpose” of public opinion.

There is much written on Mr. Lippmann and the peculiarities of his observations and perceptions of his fellow Americans in the early twentieth century, but the wilkipedia excerpt above fairly summarizes the crux of the man's ideology and the subsequent perceptions of generations of journalists who have been steeped in his teachings once you stop to think about how media operates in
America today.

The question therefore, begs asking again. "Who originally championed elitism in America?" The same people who perpetuate it and cultivate it to this day. The media.

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