The Hess Report

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Nothing big or crucially important in the Hess House tonight, except that I just finished reading Stephen Den Beste's latest essay. It baffles me how great writers like Den Beste, James Lileks, and "Wretchard" at Belmont Club are giving it away for free, while the hacks who write copy for the news feeds and the bigger, supposedly more reputable news and analysis sources are getting paid to basically crap into their keyboards.

Read Lileks' Bleat when he's on fire, like when he was lambasting Salaam Pax, the Iraqi writing superstar who, once he got his sorry ass out of Baghdad, went on to whine about the very people who made it possible for him to extract said ass and safely write in the first place. Why does this man not have a column in national syndication, or at least in a major daily, when there are so many horrible hacky hacks cranking out word-poo week in and week out?

Read Belmont Club's analysis and interesting speculation about the current situation in Falujah. Start with The Ceasefire Begins, then scroll up to read Thrust and Parry, and again to read Nightfall. The anonymous writer may be correct, or he may be badly mistaken. But isn't this the kind of thing you would think intelligent investigative journalists would be doing? Piecing things together and trying to figure out what is happening, even though it is obscured from our direct view? Does this not make any analysis in Newsweek, Time, CNN, FoxNews, etc. look like the pathetic lip service to serious thought that it is?

And read anything by Stephen Den Beste, except for his anime reviews. I sometimes wonder if Rumsfeld gets his talking points from Den Beste. A lot of what he writes is obvious stuff, but he seems to have a knack for deconstructing (at length) a lot of the concepts and situations that most other writers take for granted, and by doing so, comes across as amazingly persuasive. Whenever he gets to talking about European decline, it gets particularly good. In fact, it was this essay of his that prompted me to write this.

Okay - maybe I do understand it. They're doing this because they love it, and because they are good it. The guys and gals in the press - they're just there to get that next promotion - to move into that next market - to sell 5,000 more copies of their upcoming book. And that's fine. A system in which everyone's looking for a break means that things cannot be easily covered up. Every single one of them, from cub reporter to seasoned vet dreams at night about breaking that next, incredible unbelievable story that will set their star ablaze. In fact, it's what I tell people when they start talking about conspiracies and secret nefarious government plans. So, like, what do the guys in the black helicopters do about all those freshman journalists who would just loooove to get themselves a Pulitzer by outing the scheme of the day? They usually don't have too much of an answer to that.

If the newspapers had this kind of writing, I'd read them. But they don't, so I won't.

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