What do we know and when do we care about it?

Posted by Rob Walker on July 27, 2010
Posted Under: America

There is nothing that has been raised that will be a surprise to someone who reads the newspaper every day.

Pentagon spokesman reacting to the flood of documents released by Wikileaks

This is probably pretty close to true.

But it could also be restated like so: “Much of what has been raised will be a significant surprise to most of the American public.”

If you see what I’m saying.

The question would be how much of the American public is even really paying attention to the coverage of the Wikileaks material. I was interested to read that Wikileaks decided to essentially team up with mainstream media outlets to distribute this information because the Wikileaks head honcho “is frustrated that some of the site’s other disclosures, such as a database of military procurements in Iraq and Afghanistan, didn’t garner more attention.” (According to “people familiar with the matter,” anyway.) His thinking is sound: As I’ve noted before, in a more frivolous context, mainstream media coverage is the new media’s seldom-acknowledged secret weapon.

Even so, it remains the case that today’s media culture is vastly more fragmented than in the time of, say, the Pentagon Papers. So while it’s easier to distribute information, I think it’s a lot harder to get the majority of the public to pay attention, let alone care, for very long. So I’ll be curious to see what the effects of this incident really turn out to be.

But in the short term, it does seem to have minimized the Shirley Sherrod non-incident as a topic of conversation and pundit-blather, and I’d count that as a big plus.

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page. Tags:

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