Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Dog Whistle Journalism

"Dog whistle politics" is the British term of art for what we in America call "speaking in code": When a politician, usually of the conservative persuasion, seeks to send a message to certain key parts of his or her constituency without stating it explicitly enough for other folks to comprehend. It's usually done in order to soothe and reassure the right-wing racist folks that make up the base of support for conservative factions both here and in the UK, but without actually coming out and saying anything that anyone who doesn't know the code can point to and say "this is racist". The same sort of code-speak is used by many "elite" journalists, though in their case they're trying to soothe and flatter a totally different group of people. Case in point: Last night, Atrios said RE: Franklin Foer's "Mean People Suck" piece on bloggers who dare to correct the elite media --

I think at this point the only explanation is that the New Republic is about to go belly up and all their writers are angling for jobs. I know Foer in particular is smarter than this.
I was thinking along similar lines, Atrios. Very similar lines. Foer's pieces on blogging are dog-whistle journalism: The message encoded in them isn't meant for our ears, but for the ears of his bosses, present and future. And the message he thinks they want to hear is this: "I'm a willing tool who will attack anyone who attacks your paper/network/etc., even if (or rather, especially if) their attacks are justified. Please hire me."

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