Archive for November 10th, 2010

Why Was This Information Produced?

National Review had a lead article about how weak Republicans were in the aftermath of Watergate, and how liberals were prevented from imposing a socialist program during that period.

During that period I was on Capitol Hill, I was working with National Review publisher Bill Rusher, and I wrote two major political books. My boss John Ashbrook led a tiny group that stopped congress in its tracks repeatedly.

I have only mentioned that I saved the space telescope because that was only me doing it and that issue is more easily explained, though it involves a knowledge of Appropriations Committee membership, the primacy of the Subcommittees, and other things that most congressional staff is not really familiar with.

And, incidentally, I was also writing a few articles for National Review.

The reason I scanned the article was to see if there was a single incident or person in the article that I recognized.

There wasn’t.

This is routine, it is as I expected, but if you haven’t spent your whole life in the guts of this business you might start thinking some of Conspiracy to Hide History was under way.

National Review was doing what every magazine does when it deals with history or any other subject. The writer wasn’t going into history to find out what happened. The article wasn’t featured because of some sudden interest in the political history of the late seventies.

As every writer who wants to eat regularly learns, the piece was aimed at making a point about NOW. It was written for a respectable conservative magazine to show that respectable conservatism worked then and is the only true faith now.

There wasn’t a lot of room in today’s NR for the fact that unrespectables were taking over and going for the “Wallace” vote, that a few congressmen, in the teeth of respectable opposition, were using hard ball to stop the congress in its tracks and keeping congress sitting extra days to force items off that the huge Democratic majority in both houses and the White House put in.

So a writer ignores the reality. He also avoids the John Ashbrooks. He avoids the influence of George Wallace. It is obvious that this puts him in Never-Never Land, but the reason the article appears is to serve the purposes of a publication trying to survive in 2010.

I am simply not naïve enough to expect any such an article to overlap with reality a generation ago. I am not only aware that information is produced for a reason, I assume it.

You would think that a man who was in the middle of things in a major historical battle would find any discussion of it at least worth reading. But if you have long since learned that information is produced for a reason, you know that the article is a repetition of what the magazine says in all the things it chooses to publish.

Any source of information survives by putting out what helps it survive. A lot of people are constantly enraged at this. I take it for granted because the simple, basic rule, “Why is this information produced?” makes this, not a conspiracy, but a matter of course.