The age of disbelief

Matthew Dowd, who ran Bush's successful Presidential campaign in 2004, sees the outcome to the election in terms of belief and disbelief. He told the Times' Adam Nagourney about the challenge of breaking through the media fog:

“At this point, the ability to create and drive a message narrative isall but impossible. There’s just so much stuff. The average person has 90 channels. They all get the dot-coms. They all get a newspaper. There is so much flow of information that they just to begin to discount it all.”

They just begin to discount it all. So all this media -- both new and old -- is resulting in nobody believing anyone anymore. And thus we get the spectacle of know-nothing Sarah (brilliantly summarized by Andrew Sullivan in yesterday's London Sunday Times), who appears to Dowd's "average person" as equally (in)credible as anyone else.

So can we really blame the chaotic flow of information from the new and old media for know-nothing Sarah?  Even Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the Internet, is worried by the chaos. He told the BBC today that the Internet "needs a way to help people separate rumor from real science." Berners was referring to the recent web rumors that CERN's Large Hadron Collider would create a Black Hole that would eat the Earth. But the rumors on both the left and the right about Sarah are just as (un)believable.

The answer, of course, is not disbelief. Dowd suggests that the flow of information is making "average people" into rigorous postmodernists, believing nothing or nobody, discounting all truth. But in all the "stuff" there is truth and there are lies. Sarah really is a know-nothing. She really did take earmarks. She really did increase taxes in Alaska. Read Sullivan, read Rich. These guys are telling the truth rather than just their  truth.

Is radical disbelief, then, the latest game-winner out of the Republican playbook? Will the death of truth result in the coronation of know-nothing Sarah?