US Politics

America’s Echo Chamber

I remember a discussion among several a-list bloggers about “blogs as echo chambers” earlier this year. While I largely agreed with the theory that blogs can become echo chambers – a public sphere simply reflecting and reinforcing opinions already held by readers and writers mutually self-selecting each other for the precise reason of not being confronted with world-view-challenging opinions – I am also quite confident that this risk is particularly important in America – still the dominant part of the world’s blogosphere.

I suppose it would be impossible for blogs to entirely escape the general echo chamber that the American public sphere seems to have become given the apparent progressive ideological division of the country. If you’re not sure what I am talking about, take a look at some of the headlines about the 9/11 commissions interim report about the alleged connections of Saddam Hussein government officials with Al-Qaeda.

Some might wonder why the Bush administration is not changing their talking points in light of the amount of evidence challenging its stance instead of thouroughly demonstrating once again that George W Bush might have a black and white world view except when it comes to telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Maybe Richard Cheney told Mrs Bush to read Machiavelli’s “The Prince” to the President…

But whatever the reason, both men seem to know very well that to keep lying will not do more harm to their reputation than it has already. However, changing the tune now would certainly alienate those on their side of the American echo chamber, those who, for one reason or another, if only to avoid cognitive dissonance, still believe – or pretend to believe – that the administration was not lying all along.

Unfortunately, it is these people that President Bush needs come November, not those who believed he was bending the truth with or without a commission report.