Epistemic Closure by the Numbers

Some economists at the University of Chicago have tried to answer the question of whether the Internet allows people to isolate themselves in an echo chamber. They’ve come up with an “isolation index”. The higher the index, the more isolation. Here are the media numbers:

The isolation index we estimate for the Internet is higher than that of broadcast television (1.8), magazines (2.9), cable television (3.3), and local newspapers (4.1), and lower than that of national newspapers (10.4). We estimate that eliminating the Internet would reduce the ideological segregation of news and opinion consumption across all media from 4.9 to 3.8.

But then there’s this:

It is significantly lower than the segregation of actual networks formed through voluntary associations (14.5), work (16.8), neighborhoods (18.7), or family (24.3). The Internet is also far less segregated than networks of trusted friends (30.3).

The conclusion is clear: if you want to be “open minded”, stay the hell away from friends and family.

(via Ars)

They Never Learn

So CBS decided to give Ben Domenech an online column, and guess what happened:

The White House ripped CBS News on Thursday for publishing an online column by a blogger who made assertions about the sexual orientation of Solicitor General Elena Kagan, widely viewed as a leading candidate for the Supreme Court.

Ben Domenech, a former Bush administration aide and Republican Senate staffer, wrote that President Obama would “please” much of his base by picking the “first openly gay justice.” An administration official, who asked not to be identified discussing personal matters, said Kagan is not a lesbian.

CBS initially refused to pull the posting, prompting Anita Dunn, a former White House communications director who is working with the administration on the high court vacancy, to say: “The fact that they’ve chosen to become enablers of people posting lies on their site tells us where the journalistic standards of CBS are in 2010.” She said the network was giving a platform to a blogger “with a history of plagiarism” who was “applying old stereotypes to single women with successful careers.”


The Post’s Web site briefly hired Domenech as a conservative blogger in 2006. He resigned three days after his debut after a flurry of plagiarism allegations that were trumpeted by liberal Web sites. The sites found signs of plagiarism in a movie review he wrote for National Review Online and, earlier, in his writing for the College of William & Mary’s student newspaper.

And thus ends our bi-annual Ben Domenech drama, until he is hired by ABC News in 2012 and we have another “incident.”

“The Paper of Record”

Billmon. Go.

Beltway Drama Queens

The #dickwhisperer is concerned:

World leaders arriving in Washington for President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit must have felt for a moment that they had instead been transported to Soviet-era Moscow.

They entered a capital that had become a military encampment, with camo-wearing military police in Humvees and enough Army vehicles to make it look like a May Day parade on New York Avenue, where a bicyclist was killed Monday by a National Guard truck.

In the middle of it all was Obama — occupant of an office once informally known as “leader of the free world” — putting on a clinic for some of the world’s greatest dictators in how to circumvent a free press.

The only part of the summit, other than a post-meeting news conference, that was visible to the public was Obama’s eight-minute opening statement, which ended with the words: “I’m going to ask that we take a few moments to allow the press to exit before our first session.”

Reporters for foreign outlets, many operating in repressive countries, got the impression that the vaunted American freedoms are not all they’re cracked up to be.

Sorry you weren’t allowed to report on what kind of cheese they ate while negotiating privately ABOUT NUCLEAR SECURITY, you jackass. By the way, this is what he is really upset about:

Over the weekend, Obama broke with years of protocol and slipped off to a soccer game without the “protective” pool that is always in the vicinity of the president in case the unthinkable occurs. Obama joked about it later to Pakistan’s prime minister, saying reporters “were very upset.”


I Pity Anyone Who Isn’t Them Tonight

At the Pulitzer site, the page on the commentary prize explains a hell of a lot about our current media culture.

For example, “witty” seems to be Pulitizer-code for conservative. Like Kathleen Parker (“perceptive, often witty”), Krauthammer’s ’87 prize called him “witty and insightful”. I think Parker’s alright, but how perceptive is it to file a whole column on the Stupak compromise without even mentioning the Hyde Amendment?

As for Krauthammer, I suspect he was better before the war, which might explain his ’87 prize. Not so for Friedman, who got the prize in 2002 for “his clarity of vision, based on extensive reporting, in commenting on the worldwide impact of the terrorist threat.” Suck on that.

That page also lists every Villager who will never be fired, including MoDo (’99), Ruth Marcus (runner-up in ’07), and of course Broder, who was the third recipient of the commentary prize in 1973.