One question we’ve come back to several times on HT is how resistant to change are elite cultural institutions? Obviously the answer is “very,” but what we really want to know is whether it’s so much we have little hope of accomplishing a lot of change, or if the levers of culture change available to us are long enough to move the elites. We’ve looked at both positive and negative signs.
Before too much more time passes, I want to make the point that media coverage of the Gosnell trial is a big datum in the “hopeful” category. Pro-life activists forced the dinosaur media to cover the trial. A Washington Post editor even admitted that they were wrong not to cover it sooner. The pro-lifers had no monetary or political pressure points; what they did have was shame. They could point to the ethical standards professed by the journalistic profession and show that the journalists were not living up to them. And the journalists ended up responding to that. Of course the Boston bombing pushed it all off the front page soon after, but still – when we get smart about how cultural influence works, we can have an effect.