Tony Blankley

Decide whether the battle is won or lost, whether the war should be abandoned or not before we even know what happened. Admittedly, this is an extreme case of news ignorance driving political debate and its derivative policy decisions. But it is a harbinger of things to come.

Consider that second news story I mentioned, The New York Times story that reported: "CBS, the home of the most storied news division in broadcasting, has been in discussions with Time Warner about a deal to outsource some of its news-gathering operations to CNN. Broadly speaking, (there were) conversations about reducing CBS's news-gathering capacity while keeping its frontline personalities, like Katie Couric, the CBS Evening News anchor, and paying a fee to CNN to buy the cable network's news feed."

This is only an extreme example of a seemingly inexorable trend. Collecting news is too expensive, so almost all news organizations are cutting back on newsgathering. Every year, every month, every day, more and more commentary and analysis are based on less and less actual newsgathering. Often only one or two wire reports are the only real news. Everything else, as they say, is mere commentary.

We can see in the Basra event an extreme example of the kind of danger that -- at a more incremental and less obvious way -- increasingly is happening to our news. The ever-more constricting economic forces tightening around the feasibility of effective newsgathering may lead to a crisis of current event epistemology: In the future, we may not know enough about events to make rational decisions.

This is not a liberal problem or a conservative problem. This is a threat to having an informed electorate. Public knowledge is the first barricade against tyranny. (Gun ownership is a necessary, and very close, second.) We all have seen the shocking bias of certain Reuters and AP reporters. As newsgathering further shrinks to such minimal levels, the light of knowledge will go out. Even now, it flickers from time to time. Basra was an early warning.


Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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