Like the Bowery Boys, rightbloggers have a number of “routines” they can rely on to get out of a tight spot. There’s one we might call “Routine MSM,” in which the negative reaction to a conservative idea or effort is blamed on something called “Liberal Media” (a/k/a “Mainstream Media,” a/k/a “Lame Stream Media”), thus supporting the validity of the idea or effort against all evidence. This routine has been in operation for a long time, though, and in recent enactments — such as the last Benghazi hearing — it hasn’t had the same pizzazz as in days gone by.
But when Republican presidential contenders declared war on CNBC and the media before, during, and after last week’s debate, rightbloggers rose to the occasion (or the bait, depending on how you look at it) and showed not only some moxie but also some impressive improvisational skills.
Conservative claims of victimhood at the hands of Liberal Media go back decades. In early days it was mostly grumbled about by rightwing pundits, intellectuals, and the occasional Republican vice president, and in mailings like this one by Jerry Falwell (“The liberal media has for too long suppressed the other [pro-apartheid] side of the story in South Africa”).
But with the coming of Drudge and Limbaugh, the Liberal Media shtick went big time, and with the rise at the turn of the century of rightbloggers like Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Sullivan (who considered themselves insurgents against Lib Med) and the decay of traditional journalistic financial models, conservatives began to feel that the internet had “Changed Everything” (and 9-11 Changed Everything even more!). Their rightwing “we-dia,” they thought, would inevitably replace Liberal Media. “If I owned a newspaper, I’d sell it, wouldn’t you?” Jeff Jarvis (not the funny one) said in 2005. “If I were Yahoo, would I buy it?…. What we’re seeing, I’ll say again, is just the dinosaurs huddling against the cold of the internet Ice Age. The poor, old, lumbering beasts have to stick together.”
Flash forward ten years, and we see something less like speciation and more like adaptation — many of the dinosaurs continue to lumber (some, like the Washington Post, financed by internet mogul money), and some rightbloggers have found new relevance by working with them (like Eugene Volokh and — oh hey, the Washington Post). Some top rightbloggers endure as independents, either due to admirable pigheadedness or a sweet PPC advertising deal.
Like those grand dreams of conquest, the Liberal Media routine has not worked out as expected. But when the situation arises, the brethren can be moved to impressive performances of it, like Gilbert Gottfried in The Aristocrats.
Last Wednesday the Republicans held yet another debate. The event drew more viewers than sponsoring network CNBC is used to, though only about half as many as Fox got with its August debate. (Maybe the target audience, or their home health aides, couldn’t find CNBC easily on the remote.)
Perhaps sensing that their own act was losing its punch, some candidates lit into the moderators and the media. Donald Trump announced beforehand that the debate would be “very unfair.” During the debate itself, when the moderators tried some “let’s you and him fight” stuff and teased the famously reactive Trump so viewers could feel as if they’d gotten their cable-fees’ worth, Trump and fellow candidates Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Chris Christie tiraded on Liberal Media.
Some folks looked at the questions afterwards and didn’t see how they much differed from those in other recent TV debates, nor how CNBC, a business news network, could be called “liberal” in the first place. But that’s just more Liberal Media bias, see? The rightblogger response was rapid — and, one assumes, relieved, as they could now forgo the tedious chore of defending the horrible candidates and join their heroes onstage, as it were, in Routine MSM.
“WHO HAD THE BEST ANTI-MEDIA SLAM OF THE DEBATE?” cried Newsbusters, which ran videos of Cruz’s, Rubio’s, and Christie’s zingers. “Sean Hannity slammed CNBC debate moderators tonight after the very biased debate in Boulder, Colorado,” said Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit (that’s right — Sean Hannity!). “Let tonight’s debate be the undoing at least of NBC and its political scheming on behalf of the party that is ruining the United States as founded,” American Thinker‘s Patricia McCarthy cried unto the heavens over a smoking goat carcass.
There’s got to be something from National Review’s Jonah Goldberg we can use…ah, here we go: “I don’t think last night’s debate touched on abortion, which surprised me. Then again, it was supposed to be about economics. Even so, the same dynamic was at work. Leave aside the fact that the questions were poorly researched and, quite often, smug, they also tended to start from an ideological premise that tax cuts must be ‘paid for’…” OK, that’s enough of that.
Some went in for analysis. “People with distinctively liberal or Democratic pedigrees and resumes are hired as straight news reporters,” said Timothy Carney at the Washington Examiner. “It’s far, far rarer to find the opposite.” Well, sure — why would a Republican go into journalism? The pay is crap. Defense contracting’s the way to go.
“The Media’s Potemkin Village Starts to Topple,” claimed Michael Walsh of PJ Media. “Finally…the American people got a chance to see the true, ugly, partisan, smug, self-righteous face of what we used to call journalism,” Walsh perorated. “Surely the lockstep, if not to say the actual socialist goosestep, of the Left can only be the result of a malevolent plot to crush conservatism.”
Makes you wonder why people put up with it. Heretofore, Walsh claimed, when Liberal Media ran roughshod over them, “conservatives have simply taken themselves out of the game,” but now a new day was dawning, and just as “the Soviet Union looked monolithic until a few brave Hungarians (who hated the Russians anyway) opened the floodgates to the West in 1989,” so Liberal Media will collapse if conservatives only start “flooding the outlets of the MSM with journalists who do not wear their ideological biases on their sleeves but who can still provide skillful professional pushback to help shape the overall narrative.” You know, like John Stossel and Michael Medved. They’ve got the guns but we’ve got The Golden Turkey Awards!
They’ll have to act fast, though, if Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media is right. “If you think media bias is bad now, brace yourself,” said Kincaid. “It’s no secret that students these days are being taught to be biased in the direction of the ‘progressive’ point of view. The trend in journalism ‘education’ is even more pronounced.” He meant J-school students were taking some classes in “media activism” so when they finally get a job covering town council meetings in Port Jervis, they can more effectively promote communism.
Then, in a traditional rightblogger whipsaw from despair to delusions of grandeur, Kincaid announced that “the Republican presidential candidates who attack the media, or are attacked BY the media, are going up in the polls” — which, since most of them attack the media anyway, and all of them are considered by AIM to be its victims, is hard to dispute.
Oh, and here’s another Kincaid proof point: “Public disgust with media bias is one reason why Internet-delivered television systems, such as Roku, are growing in acceptance,” he triumphantly revealed. “Viewers can buy a Roku device for under $100 and bypass cable and satellite systems like CNBC, CNN, MSNBC, and even Fox News.” This could be due to a desire to save money rather than “disgust with media bias,” but let’s not split hairs. Finally, said Kincaid, there’s a “growing number of citizen journalists and watchdog organizations engaged in the journalism business…” Citizen journalists! Ah, that takes us back.
Some of you may be wondering: if Liberal Media is in the tank for the Democrats, how come I’m always reading about Hillary Clinton’s emailgate and #Benghazi in said Liberal Media? Ah, that’s all their craft, explained Some Guy at RedState: “they still have to at least make a token effort at journalism. So as a result, they have come kicking and screaming to the stories of Hillary’s emails, of Benghazi, of deception. They think you don’t know. That’s the best part. They think you don’t remember.”
That’s an interesting take, buddy, thanks for — “Do you not? Do you not remember how many times a talking head has been on MSNBC or CNN or network news and downplayed every aspect of the email story?” I really have to be going — “Sure, they covered it. They covered Reverend Wright, too.” Let go of my sleeve, buddy, you’re crushing the velour. Some Guy went on to answer libtards like Amanda Marcotte: “The article itself will make you choke. I literally ran out of evens. I had to go to the store and buy more so I could even. But even so, I Still. Can’t. EVEN.” Well, I think we know who got the better of that exchange.
Meanwhile the Republicans got with the program: RNC head Reince Priebus canceled an upcoming NBC debate explicitly as payback for the “inaccurate or downright offensive” questions at the CNBC debate. Ben Carson demanded — as he and Trump had done earlier — that the debate format be changed, this time to prevent Liberal Media interference with his and his colleagues’ heart-to-hearts with the American people. (His first offer: Fewer questions, longer opening statements.)
There was money raised, too, for the victims of media bias. Ted Cruz alone took in over a million dollars after his eruption (“Friend, I am declaring war on the liberal media, and I need to ask a personal favor from you. We need your immediate help to fight back — do that by clicking here to donate $35, $50, or $1,000.”)
“I think it’s crazy that we have Republican primary debates moderated by people who would never in a million years vote in a Republican primary,” said Cruz. The solution would seem simple: Only ideologically friendly outlets should sponsor Republican debates. This might include Fox News — rightbloggers aren’t completely sure about them, but if they stuck to Red Eye and Justice With Judge Jeanine they might be OK — and they’d probably be good with Ted Nugent’s Spirit of the Wild. Or they can go on internet TV channels that cater to conservatives like PJTV or the Alex Jones YouTube channel. Leave corrupt Liberal Media behind, and build your movement the way the rightbloggers did — online, with ads for Goldline. Who needs those dinosaurs anyway? The people will seek you out — unless the Obama apparatchiks at Google freeze you out. On to glory!