In pro journalism, American style, the View from Nowhere is a bid for trust that advertises the viewlessness of the news producer. Frequently it places the journalist between polarized extremes, and calls that neither-nor position “impartial.” Second, it’s a means of defense against a style of criticism that is fully anticipated: charges of bias originating in partisan politics and the two-party system. Third: it’s an attempt to secure a kind of universal legitimacy that is implicitly denied to those who stake out positions or betray a point of view. American journalists have almost a lust for the View from Nowhere because they think it has more authority than any other possible stance.
Rosen's been on to this tendency since the early Dubya years, nearly a decade now. He's certainly nailed the process and the why: It's used to suck all the legitimacy out of either side in a political argument and bestow it on the writer.
A perfect example of that is this Mark Fisher piece in the Washington Post equating Romney's tax returns to...you guessed it, President Obama's boirth certificate. Fisher is careful to keep his View from Nowhere intact as he compares the two and throws up his hands, blaming both sides for the "lack of trust" in our politics.
When Obama’s birth certificate, passport records and medical files remain an issue for some voters through his presidency, it means that some people are still trying to resolve doubts about his exotic background — his role as a racial pioneer and his biography as the child of a father from Africa and a mother who took her son across the globe.
And when Romney’s tax records become a political albatross, that dispute is not so much about the merits of running a transparent campaign as about the discomfort some voters feel toward the candidate’s wealth and whether he understands the lives of those who have less.
Document battles — whether trumped-up election-season kerfuffles or genuine quests for important information — have been a mainstay of every national campaign since 2000. That should tell us that the hunger for proof stems from something much deeper than our search for the immaculate candidate. It’s part of our larger national neurosis, the corrosion of the sense that whatever our political leanings, we all share a common fact base. The fraying of that consensus has led increasingly to an entrenched popular skepticism, a stance toward politicians and institutions of all kinds that’s not just an arched-eyebrow “Show me,” but an obstinate and insistent “I don’t believe you.”
Not only do Americans increasingly segregate themselves in information silos arranged by political ideology, but even when we’re ensconced in the comforting echo chamber of Fox/Drudge World or MSNBC/NPR Land, we’re cynical about the very nature of facts.
Obama's birth certificate and Romney's tax returns are the same! Both should be dismissed as things you shouldn't believe in. The controversies surrounding them are just ginned up, because FOX and Drudge are the same as MSNBC and NPR. Only the Village stands above it all.
And this is how our press will deal with the Romney tax returns issue now. "It's the same as the Obama birth certificate thing, it's all nonsense, both sides do it. We'll tell you what you really need to know about the candidates. Stay tuned!"
Our press is trying to get you away from anything that would sink Romney and leave the campaign season meaningless. They'd be out millions in political ad revenue if the race wasn't close, and more importantly nobody would ask them what they should be thinking about the candidates.
We're "cynical about the nature of facts" alright. Especially with this press.