Yeah, we know, you’ve been hearing conservatives talking about liberal media bias forever. It’s their version of the Bowery Boys’ Routine 11. But during Romney’s worst week so far, when things were looking temporarily glum for the GOP candidate none of them had ever really wanted, rightbloggers elevated this sullen schtick into something resembling an art form.
You can understand. In these dark days, even reliable rightwing chumps have been shoving for a little daylight between themselves and Romney. David Brooks, for example, compared Romney to Thurston Howell III from Gilligan’s Island, and suggested his campaign was maladroit, for which rightbloggers called the columnist “‘conservative’ David Brooks,” “phony ‘conservative’ back-stabber,” etc.
One-time Reagan speechwriter and longtime GOP apparatchik Peggy Noonan said something similar about Romney, and got similar treatment: Fox News’ Chris Wallace said “[Noonan’s] conservative bona fides I’m not sure I take too seriously,” Ilana Mercer of World Net Daily called Noonan a “D.C. courtesan” and “Ms. Petulance”; others, “faux conservative,” etc.
“Peggy Noonan, of all people, should know that the mainstream media has different standards of conduct concerning Democratic and Republican politicians,” explained Aaron Goldstein at The American Spectator. “Surely, she understands that the liberal press put Romney under greater scrutiny in a single press conference than they have with President Obama over the past 3½ years.” Just as surely, Goldstein would have her understand that it’s her duty to tell everyone everything’s going just fine or keep her trap shut.
Where lamestream conservatives fell down on the job, rightblogger truth squads stepped up. For example, when Romney came out after the Benghazi consulate attack that killed four Americans and told people Obama “sympathizes” with the attackers — something even prominent conservatives thought was gross — they were able to get Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner to write, “How the media turned Obama’s foreign policy bungle into a Romney gaffe.”
They also reengineered the liberal-media schtick into the Obama-liberal-media schtick. This isn’t new: Since before the 2008 election, we’ve been getting tales of lamestream media loyalty to The One on a regular basis from both the high-end rightblogs — e.g. Fox News Insider‘s “Is the Media Protecting President Obama?” — to the bottom-feeding idiots.
There are many such beats at rightblogger sites — for example, Breitbart’s Big Journalism has a “**INSTA-FACT CHECK** LIVE-BLOGGING THE OBAMAMEDIA” story hole purporting to cover the “corrupt media” that is not only corrupt but “breathtakingly corrupt in its push to reelect a failed president.” Sample item: “CNN’s Soledad O’Brien Attempts to Smear Christianity as Anti-Gay.” (“It’s behavior practiced by gays and straights alike that the Bible deems sinful.”)
But last week the rightbloggers went into overdrive, insisting that the Romney’s poor post-debacle numbers had nothing to do with him and everything to do with an insidious liberal media that has declared the election over, thus either manipulating or contradicting a pro-Romney reality.
At the Washington Free Beacon, Matthew Continetti told us that the Lame Stream Media had already called the election for Obama. That would be news, especially since that would leave the media with eight more weeks till the election and no horserace to cover.
Nonetheless Continetti insisted they insisted it was done. He didn’t cite a single all-over headline. Hell, even we, liberal-media biased as we are, can find some — for example, “Today, Mitt Romney Lost the Election,” over at the Marxist Bloomberg site.
We can also find “Despite Romney Missteps, Campaign Far From Over” (NPR), “Reports of the Romney Campaign’s Death Greatly Exaggerated” (Huffington Post), “Four Reasons Why Romney Might Still Win” (Robert Fucking Reich).
And if we go back to August, we can find stories from the presumably no-less-liberal-then media such as “Romney takes lead over Obama with convention ‘bounce'” (Yahoo News), “Romney edges Obama on economy, overall race deadlocked” (Washington Post), “Obama leads Romney in three key swing states” (CBS), etc. Naturally. This kind of hot-or-not back-and-forth is the media’s bread and butter.
Continetti nonetheless pursued his war on media bias, mostly via adjectives, e.g., “the conceited arrogance with which our most sophisticated and well-schooled editors, writers, and journalists voice this conclusion makes it that much more annoying.” Not only are they conceited and annoying, they’re also sophisticated! If only the Beacon had a bigger graphics budget, they could have shown the media wearing tuxedos and drinking out of fancy martini glasses.
Then Continetti broke out the harsher modifiers: “The 2012 campaign suggests that ‘bias’ is no longer a suitable description of the character of the media establishment. ‘Partisan toadies’ may be a better one. ‘Obama’s army’ is another.” Continetti finally got down to citations — of news unfavorable toward Obama appearing in such conservative strongholds as the
Washington Post and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It all adds up!
After much snarling and rightwing laugh-lines (“that first tingle ran up Chris Matthews’ leg”), Continetti finally decided it was not enough to yell at the media; he must also hector his audience. “Be warned,” he Cassandra’d; “If Romney does lose, not only will you have to deal with the consequences of a second Obama term. You also will have to watch as the smug and puffed up soldiers in Obama’s vainglorious army pat themselves on the back, and pompously remind the country that they were right all along. And that is a price even the most eager voter should be unwilling to pay.”
In a way, it’s the whole conservative argument for former RINO Romney in a nutshell: Elect him to piss off liberal elite reporters.
Some of the brethren went small-bore, accusing the lamestream media of malfeasance only in the particular — for example, Breitbart’s Joel B. Pollak claiming that the two minutes missing from the 45-minute Romney tape contained “the most important moment,” presumably the one in which Romney said that everything he’d been saying was just a joke and that he loved all Americans and then brought out the resurrected Jesus Christ to endorse him. (As a kind of inside joke, Pollak cited James O’Keefe as a reference.)
When the Romney campaign finally woke up and countered with a 1998 clip of Obama mentioning “redistribution” — and portrayed it embarrassingly out of context, as a listen to the full clip shows — the old pros at the Media Research Center, among others, took the MSM preference for covering the more recent newsworthy event as proof of bias. (We especially like Conservative Happenings‘ version of the story: “In a clear sign of where their heart lies, the Big Three TV networks, by a whopping 13 to 1 margin, devoted much more coverage to Mitt Romney’s month’s old ’47 percent’ secret video than to President Obama’s 14-year-old but just discovered wealth ‘redistribution’ audio.”)
At The Weekly Standard, Mark Hemingway started by telling us that the workfare requirements for which conservatives like to credit Bill Clinton were weakened by Obama, despite Clinton’s denunciation of that whole argument at the Democratic Convention. Rather than indulging in Lewinsky jokes as one might expect at this juncture, Hemingway got with the current program: “It’s also telling that Clinton is leaning on allegedly authoritative and independent media fact checkers for validation when their track record of partisanship and botching complex policy issues does not inspire confidence.”
Hemingway then indulged the arguments of Republican operatives and rightwing think-tank employees at length before telling us that “the result of all this is a textbook example of how ‘fact checkers’ corrupt political discourse.” He added, “Sure, it was pretty bold to have a convicted perjurer and the man who famously told America, ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman,’ make an extended argument for the Romney campaign’s dishonesty…” Well, dogs to vomit and so forth.
Some rightbloggers seemed to grasp that the polls weren’t faked, and that the election was at least close, but still maintained that something something liberal media oh look a squirrel.
“After all the one-sided media onslaught on Mitt Romney he’s still tied with Obama,” growled Macsmind. “That’s a huge testimony.” Good effort, cowboy!
At The Daily Caller, Ira Brodsky asked, “Why is the race close? President Obama’s re-election hopes should be growing dimmer by the hour… And yet it is a tight race. How can that be?”
Oh, hell, we had that one: As we suggested earlier, voters who might like to get rid of Obama are seeing the crazy arguments conservatives are making for Romney, and running away from them.
For a moment Brodksy seemed to be veering into sanity: Though “conservative pundits complain that poll samples are skewed in favor of Democrats.. even polls conducted by Fox News and the Wall Street Journal show President Obama ahead,” he admitted.
Alas, Brodsky blew his own set-up: “It is a problem,” he said, “that many reporters and editors have bought into the idea that since perfect objectivity is unattainable there is no point in trying to be objective.” He offered no quotes to support this — couldn’t he have at least asked Chris Wallace? — and informed the public that “interviews are conducted not to gather information but to prove points. Investigations are conducted not to uncover news but to create it,” etc. As evidence he said that PolitiFact, which in December called the Democrats’ assertion that Republicans voted to end Medicare “Lie of the Year,” is “owned and operated by the anti-Republican Tampa Bay Times and” — the most damning part! — “its staff includes a number of reporters.”
Brodsky did see some hope for America: “Many voters see through the propaganda,” he said. “They use the Internet to compare what different news sources are saying.” (The internet! That oughta set ’em straight!) “But,” he lamented, “many others trust the major news outlets. They don’t feel they have the time or skills needed to perform their own research.” (It’s easy, Sheeple — just order a John Stossel boxed set.)
Brodksy got a little carried away then: “Likewise public schools help shape what children and their parents think about key issues,” he insisted, grabbing our lapels; “They indoctrinate children by emphasizing teamwork to the detriment and even exclusion of individualism.” Before he could get to the concomitant fluoridated water menace, he shifted to “one other factor that is helping to keep the presidential race close: the swelling ranks of people receiving food stamps and disability benefits… many fear losing their benefits, or seeing their benefits reduced, should Romney win.” The 47% isreal!
“Media Covering For Obama’s Failures,” reported Steve Huntley at the Chicago Sun-Times. Huntley let us know that “each new day seems to bring further evidence of the unremitting failure of President Barack Obama’s economic and foreign policies. Yet the presidential contest remains even, due in large part to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s failure to articulate a specific economic reform agenda…”
It couldn’t be that simple, could it? Ah, no: “…and to the mainstream media’s obsession with what Obama-friendly commentators see as Romney’s gaffes,” Huntley added. Thence commenced a Republican campaign speech, but who needed it? Durnlibrulmedia, pass it on.
(Some of our favorite liberal-media stories come from the liberal media itself — for example, Scott Paulson‘s “Obama’s Security Breach In Libya Is Ignored By American Media,” begins, “As the liberal American press and ultra-liberal bloggers inundate the Internet and newsprints with criticisms of what Mitt Romney…” This appeared on the CBS affiliate in Washington, DC. Well, they should know.)
At Protein Wisdom, Jeff Goldstein learned that the New York Times had gotten involved in a juicy anti-trust case against Romney’s old company Bain and was trying to get key documents unsealed. To most people, this looks like reporters trying to get a scoop, but to Goldstein it was — you guessed it:
“Just so we’re clear,” said Goldstein, “this is the same NYT who wouldn’t print the Mohammed cartoons, but who would print leaked national security documents.” (He seems to mean the Pentagon Papers, which revealed that the U.S. military had been systematically misleading Congress about the Vietnam War — clearly less important than satirical cartoons of a long-dead religious figure.)
“So let’s just note for the record,” perorated Goldstein, “that, as I’ve been saying for a while now, the clean-up and restoration of this country needs to begin with the reclamation of language, followed by a complete reconsideration of the mainstream press and its ‘access.'”
If this is confusing to you, here’s an earlier Goldstein post in which he told readers that “no media should be receiving any federal taxpayer funding.” Presumably he meant PBS and NPR; he did not explain what taxpayer funding the New York Times was receiving, besides that enjoyed by many U.S. corporations. Goldstein also demanded “the end to nearly every federal agency with the ability to produce regulations that are, for all intents and purposes, legislation produced without the consent of the governed and without representation,” and that readers “resist Supreme Court rulings that are clearly based on their own faulty prior rulings…”
Anyway, back to Goldstein’s more recent ravings: He advised the Romney campaign to make “very public, very constant demands that the LA Times release the Khalidi tape,” a far-right bugbear up there with the Michelle Obama “Whitey tape” they’ve also demanded since 2008, and that “Obama release the academic records he’s paid big money to keep hidden from view,” etc.
Then Goldstein shifted gears; “Of course, this won’t happen,” he sighed, “because I’m convinced many in the GOP establishment don’t much care if Romney wins.” They’re all in on it! “They will manage the Rockefeller Republican paradise of supreme central power,” Goldstein went on, “throwing in low taxes and pro-business policies, while horsetrading on liberties under the guise of ‘health’ or ‘the environment’ or ‘the children.’ This is all happening, people. I know it’s hard to wrap your head around…”
Indeed it is, and it got to the point where three media outlets disagreeing with one another was proof to Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey of media collusion (“It ends up appearing more like the media’s narrative-building apparatus is in disarray”).
And so on. The brethren sought new quarrels, like gang members wandering the streets at dawn after an ass-whipping looking for new, less formidable targets. At Power Line, John Hinderaker found a story at Yahoo News in which a writer mistakenly portrayed Leviticus as a New Testament book. A fair point, but Hinderaker’s preamble was curious: While “conservatives tend to focus on legacy news sources like the New York Times, the Washington Post, NBC and so on when they talk about media bias,” he said, “the fact is that the impact of such news outlets has been surpassed by internet sites that traffic in soft news. Soft, but predominantly liberal.”
Soft, but predominantly liberal? Let’s look at the top stories on Yahoo News at this writing: “Chick-fil-A CEO denies making ‘concessions'”; “Second Libya revolution? Anti-militia protests show nation’s frailty”; “Mauled N.Y. man: I wanted ‘to be one with the tiger'”; “Former CIA operative Edwin Wilson dies at 84”; and “Beer flows as Oktoberfest begins.”
The usual gabby linkbait, in other words; nonetheless, Hinderaker warned, “Yahoo, with a market capitalization of almost $19 billion, needs to get its act together and stop peddling rank ignorance and bigotry to its audience of many millions.” Or what, one is tempted to ask: John Hinderaker will get his “soft news” elsewhere?
This is a classic example of what media-watchers call “working the refs” — that is, bitching about getting a raw deal so often that the big papers and news shows give you more play just to shut you up. Except rightbloggers never shut up; and as they multiply, each just shouts louder, trying to to be heard above the others. That may be why they’ve achieved a saturation point in the whatever-you-want-to-call-it media: After a while even the most timid, compliant editors have nothing left to give you, and you’re left screaming at the top of your lungs in a marketplace so full of voices that no one can hear or understand you. Enveloped and frustrated by the din, you start babbling variations on your complaint that don’t make sense, even to you. And that’s where we find ourselves today.