President Obama gave a speech on the shutdown and debt-ceiling deal Thursday. It was a wide-ranging set of remarks, but one specific comment jumped out for us bloggers here at The Switch. Here is the full quote, with emphasis added.
And now that the government has reopened and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists, and the bloggers, and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do, and that's grow this economy, create good jobs, strengthen the middle class, educate our kids, lay the foundation for broad-based prosperity and get our fiscal house in order for the long haul. That's why we're here. That should be our focus.
That sounds an awful lot like the president claiming that bloggers are tearing America apart. And there really are some perverse incentives in the online news business: When there is conflict, people want to read about it. And more page views directly translates to revenue in most cases. So bloggers and other journalists do tend to produce a lot of content when there are major news stories that revolve around conflict, like, say, our government shutting down for 16 days and Congress pushing our economy to the precipice of disaster.
But blaming the blogging field for the way the Internet and the entire journalism industry works seems like a bit a a reach -- especially lumping them in with professional activists and lobbyists who are literally paid to advocate one side or another, as well as partisan talking heads. Is the president trolling us?