One of the astounding characteristics of the mainstream press is its dogged willingness to accept with open arms some of the most incendiary and hateful elements of modern-day conservatism. Ann Coulter appears on NBC with stunning regularity, Howard Kurtz wrote a drippy mash note to Michelle Malkin, Time pristinely whitewashed Glenn Beck's colorful record of shocking and false rhetoric -- you get the idea. Yesterday, The Washington Post's On Faith blog featured a guest post from Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, on "America's secular saboteurs." On Faith markets itself as "A Conversation on Religion and Politics with Jon Meacham and Sally Quinn," so let's see what Donohue brought to the conversation:
There are many ways cultural nihilists are busy trying to sabotage America these days: multiculturalism is used as a club to beat down Western civilization in the classroom; sexual libertines seek to upend the cultural order by attacking religion; artists use their artistic freedoms to mock Christianity; Hollywood relentlessly insults people of faith; activist left-wing legal groups try to scrub society free of the public expression of religion; elements in the Democratic party demonstrate an animus against Catholicism; and secular-minded malcontents within Catholicism and Protestantism seek to sabotage their religion from the inside.
Yesterday's radicals wanted to tear down the economic structure of capitalism and replace it with socialism, and eventually communism. Today's radicals are intellectually spent: they want to annihilate American culture, having absolutely nothing to put in its place. In that regard, these moral anarchists are an even bigger menace than the Marxists who came before them.
Sexual libertines, from the Marquis de Sade to radical gay activists, have sought to pervert society by acting out on their own perversions. What motivates them most of all is a pathological hatred of Christianity. They know, deep down, that what they are doing is wrong, and they shudder at the dreaded words, "Thou Shalt Not." But they continue with their death-style anyway.
The ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State harbor an agenda to smash the last vestiges of Christianity in America. Lying about their real motives, they say their fidelity is to the Constitution. But there is nothing in the Constitution that sanctions the censorship of religious speech. From banning nativity scenes to punishing little kids for painting a picture of Jesus, the zealots give Fidel a good run for his money.
Catholics were once the mainstay of the Democratic Party; now the gay activists are in charge. Indeed, practicing Catholics are no longer welcome in leadership roles in the Party: the contempt that pro-life Catholics experience is palpable. The fact that Catholics for Choice, a notoriously anti-Catholic front group funded by the Ford Foundation, has a close relationship with the Democrats says it all.
The culture war is up for grabs. The good news is that religious conservatives continue to breed like rabbits, while secular saboteurs have shut down: they're too busy walking their dogs, going to bathhouses and aborting their kids. Time, it seems, is on the side of the angels.
OK, so let's run it down -- the nameless and faceless "secular saboteurs" are worse than Marxists; "gay activists" are perverts practicing a "death-style;" the ACLU is just like Fidel Castro; Democrats don't put Catholics in "leadership roles" (except for the vice president, the Speaker of the House, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the chairman of the DNC, and just about every Kennedy); and all these Catholicism-hating gay Marxist perverts are aborting themselves into oblivion while "walking their dogs" (which, unless it's a euphemism for something else, doesn't strike me as particularly sinful).
Aside from being false, offensive, and generally unhinged, it's also unoriginal -- Donohue says stuff like this all the time. Donohue makes his living crudely attacking homosexuals and anyone who isn't Catholic.
So, Jon Meacham and Sally Quinn, would you care to explain what exactly Bill Donohue's presence added to your "conversation"?
The amazing part is that pundit Chris Cillizza makes that claim today after detailing how the GOP just got slaughtered in the latest WashPost survey: [emphasis added]:
And, perhaps most troubling for GOP hopes is the fact that just 20 percent of the Post sample identified themselves as Republicans, the lowest that number has been in Post polling since 1983. (No, that is not a typo.)
I noted earlier today how the dismal GOP poll results do not fit in with the preferred Beltway narrative. And sure enough, Cillizza seemed to do his best to assure Republicans that the news wasn't that bad:
That's not to say that 2009 hasn't been a good year for Republicans. By and large, it has been.
Imagine what the those poll results would have looked like if the GOP had had a bad year?
From Pat Buchanan's October 20 WorldNetDaily "Commentary":
Progressives are the folks who, in the 1960s, could easily understand that urban riots that took scores of lives and destroyed billions in property were an inevitable reaction to racism, poverty and despair. They could empathize with the rage of campus radicals who burned down the ROTC building and bombed the Pentagon.
The "dirty, immoral war in Vietnam" explains why the "finest generation we have ever produced" is behaving like this, they said. We must deal with the "root causes" of social disorder.
Yet, they cannot comprehend what would motivate Middle America to distrust its government, for it surely does, as Ron Brownstein reports in the National Journal:
"Whites are not only more anxious, but also more alienated. Big majorities of whites say the past year's turmoil has diminished their confidence in government, corporations and the financial industry. ... Asked which institution they trust most to make economic decisions in their interest, a plurality of whites older than 30 pick 'none' - a grim statement."
Is all this due to Obama's race?
Even Obama laughs at that. As he told David Letterman, I was already black by the time I was elected. And he not only got a higher share of the white vote than Kerry or Gore, a third of white voters, who said in August 2008 that race was an important consideration in voting, said they were going to vote for Obama.
With black voters going 24 to 1 for Obama, he almost surely won more votes than he lost because of his race.
Perhaps Glenn Beck is on to something. The more I read W. Cleon Skousen, the radical conservative conspiracy theorist at the center of all things Beck, the more I start to like him. He's barking mad, make no mistake, but the man certainly could spin quite a yarn.
Take, for example, page 24 of Skousen's The Naked Capitalist, and its explanation of the aims of "the world's secret power manipulators":
In the beginning of this presentation I pointed out, some of the disturbing questions which are likely to occur to anyone who has been trying to understand the significance of the amazing rends of current history. There is a growing volume of evidence that the highest centers of political and economic power have been forcing the entire human race toward a global, socialist, dictatorial-oriented society. And what has been most baffling about it has been the fact that this drift toward dictatorship with its inevitable obliteration of a thousand years of struggle toward human freedom, is being plotted, promoted and implemented by the leaders of free nations and the super-rich of those nations whose positions of affluence would seem to make them the foremost beneficiaries of the free-enterprise, property-oriented, open society in which so much progress has been made. Certainly they, above all men, should know that in order for this system to survive, freedom of action and the integrity of property rights must be preserved. Then why are the super-capitalists trying to destroy them?
Dr. [Carroll] Quigley provides an answer to this question but it is so startling that at first it seems virtually inconceivable. It becomes rational only as his scattered references to it are collected and digested point by point. In a nutshell, Dr. Quigley has undertaken to expose what every insider like himself has known all along -- that the world hierarchy of the dynastic super-rich is out to take over the entire planet, doing it with Socialistic legislation where possible, but having no reluctance to use Communist revolution where necessary.
They must be very powerful indeed to dispense "Communist revolutions" as freely as Tic-Tacs.
So, yes, this is nuts. But don't think for one minute it starts and ends with Skousen. Glenn Beck is completely on board with this stuff. Take, for example, this conversation he had with Lou Dobbs back on October 4, 2006, when the two were still CNN colleagues:
BECK: Was Carroll Quigley right on the shadow government, on the companies taking over and really controlling everything? Because it's really the only thing that I can put my finger on to say, "Why aren't we doing anything about illegal immigration?" We're run by companies now, aren't we?
DOBBS: Well, both political parties are run by the very same people, corporate America, $2.4 billion in lobbying each year. No other special interest comes that close.
The power of corporate America -- and I'm talking about big business. I'm not talking about small business. There's even a fiction in this country now that small business, medium-size business, and corporate America are all the same. They're not.
Corporate America is working against the interest of the medium- and small-size businesses, are working against the middle class, destroying jobs, not creating them. Small business continues to create jobs in this country, more than 80 percent of them. But the truth is that corporate America is dominating our legislative and our electoral system.
BECK: Wouldn't you go further than that? It's not just corporate America. I mean, it's global corporations. I think we're being turned into MexAmeriCanada.
And, of course, one need only look back as far as, well, last night to ascertain Beck's opinion on whether we're moving "toward a global, socialist, dictatorial-oriented society." So the next time you hear Beck uncork some loony conspiracy theory, remember that as crazy as he might appear, he's really just standing on the shoulders of crazier giants.
After reading her predictable, talking points-approved condemnation of the White House's push back against Fox News, my suspicion is that the Post columnist doesn't watch Fox News. And my guess is she's not alone among the growing army of Village pundits who have all stepped forward to uniformly announce that the White House is way off the mark in deciding to fact check Fox News.
In a way, Marcus is simply reinforcing the age-old Beltway truism: When Democrats criticize the press it's whiny and petty, but when Republicans do it, it's savvy and brash. (Just ask veterans of the Clinton administration.)
But more specifically, Marcus is commenting on a media landscape of which she is completely ignorant. For instance, she claims Fox News operates just like MSNBC did during the Bush years. MSNBC featured Bush bashers Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann, and today Fox News boasts Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, so c'mon what's the big deal. I guess the big deal is I don't remember either Olbermann or Maddow comparing MSNBC employees to persecuted Jews during the Holocaust, which was the twisted comparison Beck recently made regarding the Fox News staff.
In other words, I don't recall Olbermann or Maddow going bat shit crazy on national television, scribbling away on a chalkboard as they fantasized about connecting George Bush to every conceivable strain of historical evil. And I don't remember either MSNBC host launching hateful and hollow witch hunts against semi-obscure administration officials, the way Hannity has latched onto the homophobic attacks against Kevin Jennings.
But guess what? The same elite pundits who are telling the White House is chill out over Fox News are the same elite pundits who for weeks have refused to acknowledge the hateful Jennings witch hunt. Which brings me back to my original question: Do journalists like Marcus even watch Fox News? Do they understand what its programming day now looks like? My guess is the answer is no, even though lots of them have taken it upon themselves to speak out as Fox News experts; to lecture the White House about how normal and mainstream the cable outlet is.
For Marcus' edification, here's a recent example of where the Fox News family broke from the standards of professional journalism and clearly pushed a falsehood.
Here's another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another.
Yes, that list just covers a sampling from this October. And no, I don't recall MSNBC flooding its airwaves with provably false programming the way Fox News now does on a routine basis.
Can any serious journalist look at the kind of media malpractice record that Fox News has accumulated this year and really claim that it's not doing anything that's unusual or unique in the ranks of modern-day American journalism? Or that it's just like MSNBC, but from the right? Or that the White House should not be concerned about the nearly uninterrupted falsehoods unleashed in its direction?
Can any serious journalist look at that record and claim that it's the White House that ought to change its behavior? They can if they don't actually watch Fox News.
Courtesy of the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus:
Imagine the outcry if the Bush administration had pulled a similar hissy fit with MSNBC. "Opinion journalism masquerading as news," White House communications director Anita Dunn declared of Fox. Certainly Fox tends to report its news with a conservative slant -- but has anyone at the White House clicked over to MSNBC recently? Or is the only problem opinion journalism that doesn't match its opinion?
Has Marcus "clicked over" to MSNBC lately? Or is she just mindlessly parroting the right-wing talking point that MSNBC and Fox are equivalent?
If she Marcus did watch MSNBC, she'd see former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough hosting three agenda-setting hours each morning. She'd see Mika Brzezinski, JoeSco's ostensibly "liberal" sidekick, spouting off about how conservative Sarah Palin fans are the "real Americans."
She'd see former Nixon and Reagan aide and three-time Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan -- the nation's most famous bigot.
She'd see Chris Matthews, whose has for years displayed open contempt for liberals, overt misogyny, and an archaic belief that minorities are not "regular" people.
She'd Michelle Bernard take a moment away from sending lie-filled anti-health care reform attack-emails to host an MSNBC special dealing with, among other things, health care.
And then maybe she would remember that MSNBC is the channel that brought us Michael Savage, Ann Coulter, and Don Imus. The channel that fired Phil Donahue despite strong ratings simply because Donahue opposed the Iraq war. The channel that specializes more than any other in apologies for employees' offensive on-air statements.
Any journalist who says MSNBC is in any way the liberal equivalent to Fox News lacks either judgment or honesty -- and, either way, should not be taken seriously -- about anything.
And three makes the trend. First it was AP, and then Gallup. Now, the latest Washington Post/ABC poll shows Obama's job approval rating moving back up, marking his first gains since April. We'll see if that topic finally starts showing up among the chattering class.
The real news though, as George Stephanopoulos spells out on his blog, is the crushing poll numbers for the GOP. Despite the beloved Beltway narrative about how it's gearing up to bash vulnerable Dems in 2010, the GOP appears to be a political party in free fall. When will the press start emphasizing that storyline?
From Stephanopoulos [emphasis added]:
Only 20% of Americans call themselves Republicans -- the lowest in 26 years. Only 19% trust Republicans in Congress to make the right decisions for the country's future -- compared to 49% trust in Obama. In addition, President Obama outpaces his fellow Democrats on the Hill -- by 15 points -- in this measure, providing some ammunition to the perpetual White House argument to Democratic members that their political success is inextricably linked to the president's. And unlike other recent polls, ABC-Post give Democrats a 51-39 edge in the generic Congressional ballot
From the October 19 FoxNews.com "You Decide" poll:
Eighty advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred of white people." Here are his October 19 sponsors, in the order they appeared: