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David Carr Was Our Guide Through a "Dead-Bang Ugly" Media Moment

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Reprinted from The Nation


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We could not afford to lose David Carr.

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And yet, we have.

After an particularly unsettling week for the jumble of journalism, entertainment, folly and possibility that we now call "media," we are now without the one ink-stained -- or is it now "digit-damaged" -- wretch who seemed to be capable of making sense of it all.

The New York Times columnist on all things media, who died Thursday night at the absurdly young age of 58, waded into the greatest debates of our time with a warmth, humor and humility that belied his amazing ability to get to the heart of the matter -- as he did in his final interview, just hours before his death, with Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Edward Snowden.

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What made Carr the necessary guide through an ever-expanding maze of conflicts and contradictions was not that he always knew the way. In an age of stupid certainty, and the cruel choices that extend from it, he reminded us to cling to our humanity as we explored the unknown together.

Jaron Lanier, the great examiner of our still-forming digital age, titled his book about these times: You Are Not a Gadget. David Carr, who sought to examine the whole of our media moment, understood the premise that we needed to master our new technologies -- as opposed to being mastered by them. But he extended the notion to suggest a second premise: You Are Not a Troll.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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