The WashPost columnist wrote a welcome piece on Thursday about how the press is treating Noise Machine leaders such as Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich like actual party leaders, even though they have no traditional power; the kind of power that the Beltway press always required before taking players seriously.
Dionne was dead on when he wrote:
If you doubt that there is a conservative inclination in the media, consider which arguments you hear regularly and which you don't. When Rush Limbaugh sneezes or Newt Gingrich tweets, their views ricochet from the Internet to cable television and into the traditional media. It is remarkable how successful they are in setting what passes for the news agenda.
Shorter version: Who cares what Newt Gingrich thinks?
But here I have to take issue with Dionne, who, at least to my ear, stretches too far in order to blame Democrats for creating the Limbaugh/Gingrich media monster:
Democrats are complicit in building up Gingrich and Limbaugh as the main spokesmen for the Republican Party, since Obama polls so much better than either of them.
I don't buy it. Or to be more specific, I think Dionne's at best 20 percent correct. Because yes, there may have been times when, strategically, Democrats wanted the radical right rhetoric of AM talk show hosts and disgraced former speakers of the House out front. But to suggest that has been the driving force I think is off the mark.
Here's a for-instance. I was watching Wolf Blitzer last night report on Obama's speech to Muslims and as part of CNN's prepared report, virtually the first voice Blitzer introduced to guage reaction to Obama's speech was Rush Limbaugh. That's the media's first pivot. That's where Beltway journalists start their reporting: What did Rush and Newt say? It's unprecedented, of course. But 'serious' political media in the country have abandoned longtime standards and have decided to turn right-wing hate talkers into legit news players.
And trust me, that has not been done at the prompting of Democrats.
Fox News has been promoting a segment on "Gore's green money" for tonight's O'Reilly Factor, asking: "Is Al making tons of cash off global warming fears?"
Gore says he's donated the money he's earned from climate-related ventures to a non-profit, but in the past, The O'Reilly Factor has had trouble pointing that out.
Just last month, while guest-hosting the Factor, Laura Ingraham said: "It seems that being green does pay big time -- just ask Al Gore. Mr. Global Warming was worth about $2 million or so when he left office in 2001, but after eight years of tirelessly working to save the world, the planet, he's now reportedly -- get this -- worth a whopping $100 million. His financial windfall came up at last week's Capitol Hill hearing."
Ingraham then proceeded to air clips of Gore's April 24 congressional testimony that had been edited to remove his statements that he donates the money he makes from his climate-related work to a non-profit organization.
For example, Ingraham aired a clip of Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn asking Gore, "Is the legislation that we are discussing here today, is that something that you are going to personally benefit from?" But the Factor edited out the portion of Gore's response in which he stated: "But every penny that I have made, I have put right into a nonprofit, the Alliance for Climate Protection, to spread awareness of why we have to take on this challenge."
The Japanese car company's sales in America fell 40 percent in May. The reason I highlight the showroom collapse is not to slight Toyota, but because I couldn't help thinking back to the end of last year when the media debate about bailing out Detroit's Big Three was raging, especially on cable TV, and hearing time and time again from experts about how the American car companies had been crippled by greedy unions (whose workers made $70 an hour!), and that if the Big Three were more like Toyota they wouldn't need a bailout.
Did I mention sales at Toyota, which has no labor unions, cratered 40 percent last month?
Still, the anti-union narrative persists. This week in the Wall Street Journal, Paul Ingrassia wrote a column dubbed "How GM Lost Its Way." The take-away? It's pretty much the unions' fault. GM lets those workers run wild with outlandish pay and benefits, and they drove the company into the ditch.
Wonder what Toyota's excuse today is.
UPDATE: The media's anti-union mindset was visible on MSNBC this week when the New York Times' Andrew Sorkin, the same person who last year helped launch the myth of the overpaid autoworkers, suggested it was nearly impossible to name a single "successful" company that employs union workers. CF quickly knocked that down, but it's pretty clear how unions are viewed by lots of media elites.
That's the genius of the right-wing blogosphere. Instead of being penalized, or ostracized, for concocted nutty, dead-end capers, you're rewarded. You become a rising star. Your link count goes up. Why? Because the right-wing blogosphere is literally built upon fabrications. And because that's the road to stardom, everybody's eager to hatch new whodunits.
Just ask Doug Ross. He's the part-time dick who uncovered the blockbuster story about how the Obama White House punished Republican donors by shutting down Chrysler car dealerships owned by Republican donors. It's true that statistically, pretty much any dealership owner whose shop was shut down likely gave more money to Republicans, because that's what dealership owners do.
But still, the whole story had a great what-if ring to it, which was good enough for the right-wing bloggers. (And Neil Cavuto.)
Well, Ross has another big story. (How does he do it?!) This one, a "RED ALERT" jobber, is about how the the FBI was told to "back off" investigating the nefarious activities of Black Muslim converts; an investigation that might have detained the Arkansas gunman--and Muslim convert--before he allegedly killed an Army recruiter this week. Who told the FBI to back off? It could have been the Obama White House!!! (BTW, Ross has zero sources to back up the tall tale, but still.)
Folks, this could be HUGE. Bigger than Dealergate? I'm gonna say y-e-s.
Make Jill, Michelle 'Real Housewives'
By: Patrick Gavin
June 4, 2009 04:40 AM EST
Last week, POLITICO handicapped some of the potential options for Bravo's forthcoming reality show, "Real Housewives of DC."
But we also reached out to others in order to get their thoughts on potential candidates:
Ann Coulter: Jill Biden - these "Real Housewife" shows always have at least one woman whose husband acts like she's 30 years younger than she is. And Michelle Obama, of course, because the shows benefit from having one "sassy" cast member...Also, they'll need at least one trophy wife married to a big, unattractive pile of money. So the producers better line up John Kerry.
We noted earlier that the news crew at ABC dashed to post a bulletin about how right-wing talker Sean Hannity hated Obama's Muslim speech today. Because at ABC, Hannity's important and insightful.
A couple hours later here's how the Note summed up the reaction to Obama's speech:
The instant reaction from Sean Hannity, to ABC's Diane Sawyer on "Good Morning America": "This is an extension of what has become an apology tour, that America is an arrogant country," Hannity said.
"There are a lot of questions about what his real motivations are here, but it seemed like a political speech to me."
The instant reaction from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, per ABC's Jake Tapper: It was a "wonderful speech," she said. "He set forth a clear challenge to us and all in the world who share [our] hope for peace and security. . . . Now we have to get to work to translate that into concrete action."
At ABC News, Sean Hannity's reaction to a foreign policy speech is on par with the reaction of the United States' Secretary of State.
Behold your liberal media at work.
As in the chron below from Tuesday's Sotomayor report: "GINGRICH REGRETS CALLING HER "RACIST"
Yes, in his online post Gingrich did walk back his "racist" claim, but he never expressed any kind of regret for calling the Supreme Court nominee a racist. In fact, Gingrich seemed to go out of his way not to apologize for making the incendiary, personal attack. Yet there was CNN yesterday, rushing to tell viewers that Gingrich had apologized; that he had expressed "regret."
UPDATE: ABC's The Note also claimed that Gingrich offered up an "apology." I could probably find three dozen more examples of flat-out false reporting like that. Why? Because the Beltway press wants to tell a certain tale, even if it's not true.
From Coulter's June 3 syndicated column:
Why aren't liberals rushing to assure us this time that "most pro-lifers are peaceful"? Unlike Muslims, pro-lifers actually are peaceful.
According to recent polling, a majority of Americans oppose abortion - which is consistent with liberals' hysterical refusal to allow us to vote on the subject. In a country with approximately 150 million pro-lifers, five abortionists have been killed since Roe v. Wade.
In that same 36 years, more than 49 million babies have been killed by abortionists. Let's recap that halftime score, sports fans: 49 million to five.
Meanwhile, fewer than 2 million Muslims live in America and, while Muslims are less murderous than abortionists, I'm fairly certain they've killed more than five people in the United States in the last 36 years. For some reason, the number "3,000" keeps popping into my head.
So in a country that is more than 50 percent pro-life - and 80 percent opposed to the late-term abortions of the sort performed by Tiller - only five abortionists have been killed. And in a country that is less than 0.5 percent Muslim, several dozen Muslims have killed thousands of Americans.
Tiller was protected not only by a praetorian guard of elected Democrats, but also by the protective coloration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America - coincidentally, the same church belonged to by Tiller's fellow Wichita executioner, the BTK killer.
The official Web page of the ELCA instructs: "A developing life in the womb does not have an absolute right to be born." As long as we're deciding who does and doesn't have an "absolute right to be born," who's to say late-term abortionists have an "absolute right" to live?
I wouldn't kill an abortionist myself, but I wouldn't want to impose my moral values on others. No one is for shooting abortionists. But how will criminalizing men making difficult, often tragic, decisions be an effective means of achieving the goal of reducing the shootings of abortionists?
Following the moral precepts of liberals, I believe the correct position is: If you don't believe in shooting abortionists, then don't shoot one.