Michael Wolff of the Vanity Fair Roundtable offers an entertaining, somewhat pointed, and occasionally uncomfortable look at the structure and limitations of the liberal media universe vs. conservative alternative media. Actually, some of Wolff's barbed comments about liberal media styles struck rather close to home here on Winds of Change.NET.
"Now I am getting older, moving deeper, with my friend Atlas, into the middle ages. So it may be that I am missing the new trend. THE NEW EARNESTNEST the old New York magazine might have headlined it. MEET THE NEW OLD FOGIES. I'd have enjoyed a light essay on the subject by David Brooks.
Except that, judging by the commercial health of the liberal media — not least of all its systemic inability to get anybody under middle age interested in it — it may be that all the earnest, respectability-seeking old fogies are on the inside working for the liberal media while the wisecracking vulgarians are on the outside ignoring it."
Wolff uses the word "we" to describe the liberal media, and he certainly has part of the picture - when you ask which side seems to be having more fun these days, it's pretty clear. That's why Brian C. Anderson writes about South Park Conservatives.
As he wrtes about the world he lives in, Wolff also describes how status plays a role in the dynamics that he writes about - and we're talking status in a Bonfire of the Vanities kind of way. The part about getting his friend James Atlas into trouble when they publicly estimated that it took an annual income of $500,000 to be a Manhattan liberal may be the killer 'graph of the whole piece.
Vanity fair, indeed.
Meanwhile, here's another piece of the puzzle.
Brian C. Anderson was good enough to send this major South Park fan a copy of his book "South Park Conservatives," and the Vanity Fair article finds a lot of echoes with his excellent City-Journal piece on the new generation of campus conservatives. They were people who looked and sounded nothing like Bill Buckley - and nothing like the New York Times either.
A generation raised on South Park's wicked skewering of political correctness and idiocy isn't going to. A generation with more media choices than ever doesn't have to. And the market will correct the problem, given time. Hence the trends described in Anderson's book.
Vive le media libre.
UPDATE: Since the NYT forms part of both Wolff's criticism and mine, I offer its public editor's farewell "13 Things I meant to Write About But Never Did." Some directly hit what Wolff was talking about, while others are revealing or interesting in different (and in some cases, even positive) ways.
JUNE 8 UPDATE: Ed Driscoll adds more weight to all of this stuff with a series of thoughtful links around this theme.