Der Spiegel:We Heart Tabloids

by Dennis Sanders on July 20, 2011

Interesting and surprising thoughts from the German newspaper Der Spiegel on why people are hating on Rpuert Murdoch:

A glance at the television coverage and the op-eds in recent days would be enough to convince anyone that the media mogul from Adelaide governs Downing Street and that Great Britain is mired in a scandal akin to Watergate. Everywhere one can read about the extent of his media power. His real crime, though, are his views, even if no one will say so. He’s known to be a stalwart conservative whose newspapers reliably bang the right-wing drum — and that was plenty to make him an object of hatred.

It goes without saying that progressives would be more merciful in the verdicts they have passed on the tabloid press had they themselves ever found success in the genre. But it is difficult to create a left-wing version of The Sun. One can only tell readers so often why young criminals deserve compassion instead of tougher prison sentences, or why each foreigner is a blessing for the country to which he has immigrated. People still cling tightly to their prejudices, contemptuously leaving the pedagogical messages behind at the newsstand…

Those who condemn a nation’s tabloid press are actually condemning the segment of the population that makes such products big and powerful. The intelligensia has always struggled with the simple masses. Indeed, it is truly painful to know exactly what is good for the country, but to fail to earn mass approval, whether at the newsstand or the voting booth.

As early as the French Revolution, Enlightenment thinkers were forced to recognize an aggravating gap between the populace as they imagined it and the actual people who took to the stage as revolutionary subjects. In 1793, when food riots shook Paris, one of the era’s key figures, Maximilien de Robespierre, said that while he wouldn’t accuse the people of incriminating themselves, he had hoped they would have loftier aims. “When the people rise up, should they not have a goal worthy of them?” he asked. “Should they be concerned about a bag of groceries?”

It’s been that way ever since: The avant-garde makes lofty, magnanimous plans while the crowd seeks to fill more tangible needs.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Chad July 20, 2011 at 12:14 pm

I feel like this is a self-serving conservative narrative than an actual truth. I think people are titillated by the fact that under his watch his company hacked into the phone of a 13 year old murder victim more than they are displaying contempt for the common tabloid reader.

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