Media Criticism

Barney Frank Explains The "Trouble With New Media"


The Atlantic Wire's Media Diet series is fast becoming a forum where important old people say stupid things about the Internet. Last month, Aaron Sorkin complained about "" This week, Rep. Barney Frank bemoans the fact that "anyone can publish anything."  

[Frank]: The trouble with new media is the fact that there's no screen. Anyone can publish anything. We still have the notion that if it's printed it has some validity. Previously, you had to convince at least one other person that it was worth printing. Now, anyone can print anything in this medium. In general, there's a lot more gossip and fragmentation. People are starting to just get reinforcement in the media. On the left, it's MSNBC, Fire Dog Lake and The Huffington Post. On the right, it's Fox News and the talk radio hosts. People interpret facts differently through these parallel universes. It's what makes compromise so hard because your partisans just think your selling them out because that's what everyone they know says. It deepens and sharpens a partisan and ideological divide.

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  1. “anyone can publish anything.”

    Won’t somebody think of the gatekeepers?

    1. Beat me to it. It’s still amusing to see the elites bemoan the fact that there are more choices out there of where people get their information. Man, things were so much simpler (for them) when there were only three news networks and they got to pick the frontrunners in elections and even which issues were going to be debated. Now the little people can get into the act, and it sucks (for them).

      1. I’ll admit my own nostalgia for the 80’s, when things were “simpler.” Would I trade it for the technological progress and the near-instant access to information we have now? Not a chance, but the large problems seemed to be more manageable and nowhere near as complicated as they are today. Hell, even the politicos seemed a better class.

        Of course, I was in college and having more sex and fun than I will again, so that might have something to do with it.

        1. Not that the “new media” is not a vast wasteland of lies, half-truths, paranoia and narcissism.

          1. Because the old media was so much better at hiding all of that from you, you’re nostalgic?

            1. I’ve been wise to “old media” for a long, long time, and no, I’m not nostalgic for it. Just pointing out reality. “New media” is no better than old. There’s just more of it.

              1. That’s why it’s better.

          2. That’s just Huffington Post.

  2. It’s what makes compromise so hard because your partisans just think your selling them out because that’s what everyone they know says

    Said without irony by an abject partisan. Good to have how fucking stupid partisans are reinforced by a fucking moron like Frank.

    1. But the morons in his district elect him again and again. When anyone can vote everyone loses.

      1. Those morons probably don’t have much of a choice. The saner option is not to vote, but alas a slight majority of us seem to obligated to do so anyway.

        1. Not voting is not just the saner option, it’s the moral one.

            1. Los hijos de puta aca no me dejan escribir: ‘si, si’, con los acentos.

          1. Yes! And I vote to enslave you.

        2. The last election was the first time I can recall anyone even running against him. Unfortunately his opponent had too many things going against him. He was:

          1. Young
          2. Smart
          3. Well-spoken
          4. Had common sense
          5. (worst of all) A former marine

          I’m amazed though that the guy got more than 20% of the vote.

  3. It’s as though he never heard of US pamphlets and newspapers from 1800 to the 1930s. Most US newspapers were even more explicitly party-affiliated than today, and people definitely got reinforcement.

    It’s not just conservatives who view the 1950s as a Golden Age.

    1. Just like those that claim a coarsening of political speech in recent times never bothered to read the history of our nations first elections.

      1. Blaine Blaine
        John G. Blaine
        Continental Liar
        From the State of Maine

      2. Maybe Reason should make a video about it! (That one does still crack me up.)

    2. It’s almost like he doesn’t think people are smart enough to read several different viewpoints and make up their own minds whether it is a reliable source or not.

      1. That’s a core belief of statists: the commoners are stupid so they need philosopher-kings like Barney to think for them.

        1. Like they qualify for that role in the first place. The idea that our “best and brightest” are in government–especially elected office–is laughable.

          1. you mean “public service”

    3. It’s as though he never heard of US pamphlets and newspapers from 1800 to the 1930s. Most US newspapers were even more explicitly party-affiliated than today, and people definitely got reinforcement.

      But back then, network media did not exist, so no one ideological tribe had a monopoly over nationwide news coverage.

      1. William Randolph Hearst would like a word or two.

  4. We still have the notion that if it’s printed it has some validity.

    Well, maybe you do.

    People are starting to just get reinforcement in the media.

    Yeah, they never did that when the media agenda-setters all lived on the Upper West Side.

    1. The notion that “if it’s printed it has some validity” was stupid to begin with. I’m not surprised that an idiot like Barney Frank still clings to it.

  5. Where the hell is my “alt text”? For that photo surely demands it!

    1. “Dis mai I no happy fayce”

    2. I find the lack of Alt text disturbing

    3. “You know what? I’m happy”

      1. “Is that…asparagus? When did Jim have asparagus?”

    4. I got your alt-text right here.

    5. You would look like this too after years of excessive felching. And the extra chromosome surely isn’t helping the situation.

    6. “I’m super!
      Thanks for asking.
      All things considered
      I couldn’t be better
      I must say.”

    7. Barney Frank thinks “don’t swallow yet, don’t swallow yet, don’t swallow yet…”

  6. That goddman Thomas Paine! He can print whatever he wants in those pamphlets!

  7. Wasn’t there a time when authoritahs were upset with clandestine printing presses (think revolutionary period) since “anybody could print whatever they felt like”?

  8. “People interpret facts differently”

    At least he said one thing that’s true

    1. im stealing ur screen name on other forums. thx

      1. i’m a god damn parasite

        1. well dont get all huffy google eyes. jeesch

  9. It deepens and sharpens a partisan and ideological divide.

    You know what else deepens and sharpens the partisan divide? When EVERY SINGLE FUCKING THING IN THE NEWS is framed in political terms, and judged by its potential impact on an election years down the road.

    I wonder how that fits into Barney’s narrative?

    1. Of course, what really deepens and sharpens the old divide, is when every single fucking thing has been made political, because the Total State asserts its authority over every single fucking thing.

      1. When people like Barney Frank do something, they are acting for public good. When people like you RC resist people like Barney Frank, you are being mindlessly partisan.

        don’t you see how this works?

        1. It’s almost like some citizens still have a healthy distrust of government.

          1. Yeah – paranoid nutbags! Probably a filthy teabagger.

            1. I’ll score that an 8 of 10, BSR. If you’d have thrown in a Koch reference, you’d have completely nailed it.

        2. STOP RESISTING!!!

      2. Indeed. If only we could have government control of society without dissent!

      3. That first amendment nonsense really pisses me off!

        At least with the gatekeepers we could trade access for control of the message. Now that’s almost gone!

        1. Dat firtht amendment nonthenth weally pitheth me off!

          At leatht with the gatekeeperth we could trade accetheth for control of the methage. Now dat’th almotht gone!


          1. > FTHFY


    2. Ooh, questioning the narrative, that’s not gonna help Obama’s chances…

    3. This is precisely the problem. Everything happens in the lens of the civil society, not that of government. Making EVERYTHING about politics, political parties, and government is not only a bad idea, it’s also inaccurate. Even today, most of the important stuff happens outside of DC.

  10. Print? I don’t even own a fucking printer!

  11. Mm, Barney Frank’s tears are so yummy and sweet!

    1. Hmmm….I always figured they’d be viscous and greasy.

      1. Not when they’re the tears of unfathomable sadness.

      1. Are you calling Barney Frank a dick?

    2. If I were you I’d make sure those are his tears you’re lapping up and not his boyfriend’s ball sweat.

  12. It deepens and sharpens a partisan and ideological divide

    He’s says it as if a bad thing.

  13. Is anything published in Massachusetts worth reading once in a while?

    1. Nope, not anymore.

  14. I like sticking my cock down Barney Franks throat. Many reasons. 1) He likes it. 2) He has no gag relflex. 3) He swallows. 4)He brings a towel with him.

    1. what, you don’t get the complimentary, post orgasm rim job ?

      1. Depends on how good I tipped him before.

    2. eeuuwww!

    3. He does seem to be a blowhard.

  15. Barney Frank is one of the few in Congress who can claim legitimately that he’s for the Teabagging Party.

    Congress is a magnet for courtiers, the effeminate kind of male, who likes to compete based on gossip, innuendo, fleeting alliances.

  16. Yeah, because Barney Frank doesn’t deepen or sharpen the partisan or ideological divide with the shit that spews from his gob.

  17. Frank: “I guess on the other hand the intertubes are good for some things, take this Weinergate thing, I’ve always wanted to know…”

  18. At least he didn’t call for arresting people who listen to the new media.

    1. …yet.

    1. There will be blood.

  19. Barney says: “People are starting to just get reinforcement in the media.”

    Yet a few paragraphs earlier he says: “Paul Krugman is great. I’m very much guided by and reinforced by Paul Krugman. I think he does very good stuff.”

    So is “reinforcement” good or bad?

    1. Barney Frank: A veritable Ouroboros of economic stupidity.


  20. My understanding is that Free Press and the FCC via Net Neutrality rules are going to crack this nut.

  21. Much as I detest Mr. Frank’s politics, what he says here is true. How many of us actually read the NY Times or Boston Globe unless called to an article by one of our friends here? Doesn’t just about everything here on Reason have a pro-liberty/ anit-statist political overtone? Haven’t we always needed a skeptical caution about anything read (remember being told growing up: “believe nothing you read and only half of what you see’).

    Yup, Barney is generally just one more fascist rat, but in this case, he may have uttered some truth.

    1. For the larger question of “Where do we go to find the truth?”, I agree. But the problem with Frank and others of his ilk is that they believe the press (some of it, anyway) is and was the appropriate gatekeeper. It’s pretty apparent today that the press has always been heavily biased by things other than “speaking the absolute and complete truth”, whether that bias is political, economic, geographic, etc.

    2. Wait, there are news sources outside of reason? Because you’re implying that there aren’t, or that if there are, we don’t know about them.

      Your meandering little rant had about as much sense as Frank’s.

      And buddy, I subscribe to reason, the New Yorker, and the Economist. They provide very different perspectives on similar issues, and somehow, human though I am, I can comprehend these conflicting viewpoints and draw my own conclusions.

      Not everyone is as dumb as you apparently believe. Sorry to be the bearer of disillusionment.

      1. Would that everyone (even regulars on Reason) sought out a wider range of views. Glad to hear that there are some who do!

    3. If only there were still a place to get the actual unadulterated news.

    4. I read a few dozen different news websites each month looking for articles to blog about. The NY Times and the Boston Globe are relics. The Times of India is now the most popular English newspaper in print and online. I particularly like its articles on world events, because they give the facts without any coating of Western self-hate.

  22. People are starting to just get reinforcement in the media. On the left, it’s MSNBC, Fire Dog Lake and The Huffington Post. On the right, it’s Fox News and the talk radio hosts.

    That’s quite a dramatic change from the good old days, when people self-identified as either Washington Post people or Washington Star people.

    People interpret facts differently through these parallel universes.

    Back in the good old days, The Post and The Star simply cherry-picked different sets of facts for the sheeple to interpret.

  23. The problem with the printing press, is that now everyone is reading the Bible, AND political tracts, and interpreting them on their own. This is sharpening social unrest and the divide between the peasants and the landed gentry.

    1. Funny. Great point.

  24. Nobody gives a shit about Barney Frank or his fucking opinions.

    1. Unfortunately that’s not quite true.

      1. Yeah, I’ll rephrase it —

        Nobody worth two ocelot shits cars about Barney Frank or his fucking opinions.

        1. *Cares

  25. “You know what? I’m happy”

    “Droopy” references always brighten my day.

  26. Reading Frank’s bable is comical. If only someone could read his words aloud in a cartoon voice, it would be hilarious.

    1. What, his own voice isn’t cartoony enough for you?

    2. Maybe it means I’m sick or something but when I read his quotes I actually hear them said in his voice in my head. I wish it weren’t so but I can’t stop it.

      1. Is it hilarious?

  27. I grant Barney the point that people tend to consume media that reinforces their own beliefs, but what’s so wrong about that? What’s wrong about more choice and speech, not less?

    Frank is focusing here on his perceived negative effect of the new media, instead of the benefits it provides. What about the act of publishing itself as a therapeutic thing for the individuals who publish? A lot of people on the internet just need to let off steam, and in many cases that’s assumed. If someone clearly and provable commits libel or slander, that’s one thing. Otherwise, where’s the harm?

    Restrictions on speech shouldn’t be defended. And someone in the government suggesting that we should go back the the “good old days” of three networks is scary to a lot of folks. Cause this is a guy who has the power to restrict speech if he wants to.

    Clearly it’s important for readers to be aware of and consider the source of their news. You still probably can’t get away with quoting drudge report in a scholarly publication (although you could probably quote huff post, which says something about academic liberal bias), and that’s fine. Some news sources are more opinionated and do less fact checking than others. But even a blind squirrel catches a nut sometimes, so why have “blind” faith in the mainstream media?

    1. Some people consume this politcally slanted news just for the entertainment value, not necessarily as a trusted source.

      Being capable of choice and critical thinking, most competent human beings should be able to distinguish between a source that is heavily biased and one that is not. Why not trust the individual to evaluate news sources themselves?

    2. “I grant Barney the point that people tend to consume media that reinforces their own beliefs, but what’s so wrong about that?”

      From Frank’s perspective it is that too many people are consuming media that does not reinforce Frank’s beliefs, and may in fact be critical of Frank as a policy maker and a person. Frank cannot abide that, because Frank knows what he believes is True.

  28. Barney Frank, teh ghey!

  29. The trouble with democratically representative government is the fact any shithole district in America can elect any fuckstain to represent them. There is absolutely no screening involved in the process as the results of several decades of legislation unworthy of toilet paper print design has shown.

    1. Yeah, if only there was a government run screening program for congressmen, so we could ensure we have 535 Barney Franks.

  30. The more voices the better. Unless you have something to hide.

  31. I refuse to be lectured by a man who doesn’t wear his teeth.

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