Paige Schroeder Born
Wall Street Journal Editor Helps Instigate Iraq War

the bitter lapse into everyday life, the hideous dropping off of the veil

Many people seem to be experienceing what Edgar Allen Poe called the bitter lapse into everyday life, the hideous dropping off of the veil: It seems that trust in the media has hit a near-record low level, surpassed only by our low regard for the media during the Bush/Gore post-election period, and that this distain has relatively little to do with Jayson Blair, in whom most people (including me) take little interest.

Public confidence in the media, already low, continues to slip. Only 36%, among the lowest in years, believe news organizations get the facts straight, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll shows.

Trust in the media has dropped from 54% in mid-1989 -- about the time of the fall of communism -- to a low of 32% in December 2000, during the post-election confusion over George W. Bush and Al Gore.

When most people consider the impact of megacorporate ownership of the media and increasing media concentration, they think about sameness of product, conflicts with corporate interest, entanglement with government, etc.. What doesn't come up much, but probably should, is that the megacorporate owners could strip-mine it -- maximize profits over a 5 - 10 year period while destroying the news media industry as such. And when they've used it up, when this House of Usher falls, they can just move on to another industry.

Think about the declining trust in media. What if only half of the current number -- 18% of people -- trusted the media? What would America be like if only 9% trusted the media?

One is tempted to envision a future in which people like us take over, that individuals on the Internet replace the outdated news media. But without the budget and professional expertise for news-gathering provided by the major media sources, where would we be?

What was it -- I paused to think -- what was it that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the House of Usher? It was a mystery all insoluable; nor could I grapple with the shadowy fancies that crowded upon me as I pondered.

MEANWHILE: The Guardian profiles Senator Byrd:

Some of us suddenly find we do agree with him. Last week, Byrd said: "The American people may have been lured into accepting the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation, in violation of long-standing international law, under false premises." You would have thought a few more politicians under the age of 85 might acquire the courage to say that, but they haven't.

AND ON THE HOME FRONT (at 3:36 PM), we have a live chipmunk loose in the dining room, a nest of tent caterpillars in the kitchen (in a creature keeper), and a violent thunderstorm moving in, which seems likely to hit just about the time Peter's supposed to get off the school bus. BOOM! BOOM! (I'd better turn off the computer.)