If you don't remember the media coverage surrounding the 1994 campaign when Newt Gingrich led Republicans and the Contract with America to victory, take our word for it: the press was obsessed with touting the influence of right-wing talk radio. The GOP talkers were heralded as the new populist, media superstars who shepherded the Republicans to victory and the talk radio faces (especially Limbaugh's) appeared on the cover of news magazines nationwide.
Now, in the wake of the Democrats second cycle of decisive electoral victories, we keep waiting for the MSM to acknowledge the extraordinary role liberal bloggers and the larger progressive netroots community has played in reshaping American politics. But so far, it's mostly radio silence.
We can't help wondering why the press literally tripped over itself to toast mighty, mighty talk radio in the 1990's, yet today shows amazing stubbornness in acknowledging what's so obvious; that bloggers and the netroots are at the forefront of a political and media revolution.
The best the WSJ can do today is a generic look at how traffic at political sites might go down post-election.
Gawker surveys the right-wing media rubble in the wake of the GOP's big loss. And specifically, the mini-civil war that's broken out in the wake of Carl Cameron's report on Fox News where Cameron aired every conceivable attack/smear that anonymous McCain aides could conjure up against Sarah Palin.
Not only that she allegedly didn't know that Africa was a continent, but she threw "tantrums," was a "shop-aholic," and that she once answered her hotel room door in a "bathrobe," which GOP aides dubbed "rather uncommon." (Hmm, sexist much?)
Anyway, right-wing bloggers thought the Fox News report was "bullshit" (part of a liberal media conspiracy?) and now there's pretty much a circular firing squad forming within the right-wing media.
We think this media tradition of daily journalists making deals with campaigns in which they agree, in exchange for access, not to report all kinds of stories until after the election has outlived its usefulness. And frankly, during this cycle it doesn't appear that journalists were able to rustle up that many great scoops that justify their willingness to sit on stories until campaigns give them the okay to write them up.
Newsweek is now hyping its latest, this-is-what-we-didn't-tell-during-the-election edition, Newsweek 2008 Special Election. Here's how a former Newsweek writer described the deal the mag struck for the election cycle:
The agreement Newsweek had made with each of the campaigns was that in addition to the reporters covering them day to day, there would be another bunch whose material would be kept confidential and published in a special issue of the magazine, as well as in a book, that would come out after the election.
Why would news orgs agree to keep confidential newsworthy information about presidential campaigns? It strikes us as odd. As for what Newsweek was able to come up with behind the scenes, judging from its press release, it hardly seemed worth bending the rules of journalism. i.e. Zzzzzz:
-- McCain also was reluctant to use Obama's incendiary pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright as a campaign issue. He had set firm boundaries: no Jeremiah Wright; no attacking Michelle Obama; no attacking Obama for not serving in the military.
-- Obama was never inclined to choose Sen. Hillary Clinton as his running mate, not so much because she had been his sometime bitter rival on the campaign trail, but because of her husband. Still, as Hillary's name came up in veep discussions, and Obama's advisers gave all the reasons why she should be kept off the ticket, Obama would stop and ask, "Are we sure?" He needed to be convinced one more time that the Clintons would do more harm than good.
-- McCain was dumbfounded when Congressman John Lewis, a civil-rights hero, issued a press release comparing McCain with former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, a segregationist infamous for stirring racial fears.
Learn how it was done. We're still not sure what it added to the election coverage in terms of information, context or analysis. But honestly, we doubt that was the point in the first place.
FAIR's Peter Hart catches Bob Novak contradicting himself on how big a victory has to be to constitute a "mandate." Novak writes today that Obama's victory doesn't give him a "mandate" -- but Hart points out that in 2004, Novak said of Bush: "Of course it is [a mandate]. It's a 3.5 million vote margin."
Novak does deserve credit for one thing, though: In today's post, he made it all the way to the second sentence before making a truly absurd claim:
The first Democratic Electoral College landslide in decades did not result in a tight race for control of Congress.
I have no idea what the second half of that sentence is supposed to mean, but the first half is only true if by "decades," Novak means "12 years." Bill Clinton won 379 electoral votes in 1996 -- and 370 in 1992.
By the way: if you haven't yet checked out FAIR's new(ish) blog, be sure to do so.
There's some chatter onilne that Kristol's stay on the Times' Op-Ed page might not extend beyond one year, and that his contract might not be picked up for 2009.
If that's how it unfolds, how would Kristol's stint at the Times be remembered? We'll let Nora Ephron do the honors:
The man could not write his way out of a paper bag. His column was simply awful. Reading it was like watching someone dance on the head of a pin: his need to prove to his base that he hadn't gone over to the other side was so strong, his need to please his constituency was so moving, that I began to wish he would quit his job as editor of the Weekly Standard and become a Times columnist full-time. It was certainly not going to inconvenience him: the column couldn't have been taking him more than about twenty minutes to write. And it was great having him there, visible, so people like me could see what people like him were like. He was wrong about everything. It was such a comfort.
Keep your eyes on this meme as it continues to gain momentum inside the Beltway, as it anxiously awaits the arrival of the Obama administration.
The D.C. Establishment, which includes the press corps, seems jittery that Democrats might actually govern from the left following their impressive electoral gains. That's a bad idea, the talking heads insist, because the nation is fundamentally conservative.
Forget that the facts don't back that up. Here's where the revision comes in: Pundits keep warning Obama that he shouldn't make the same mistakes Bill Clinton made in 1993 when he arrived in Washington, D.C. and ran into all kinds of political setbacks because he, you guessed it, governed from the left!
See, according to the pundits, it was Clinton's run-away liberalism that did him in early on during his first months in the White House. And wouldn't you know the Post's Ruth Marcus hits that very point today, insisting that Dems need to "resist" the urge be liberals:
Yet the experience of President Bill Clinton's rocky early months -- remember gays in the military? the BTU tax? -- suggests the steep political price of governing in a way that is, or seems, skewed to the left. This risk is particularly acute for Obama, whose opponents have painted him as a leftist extremist. The good news is that his advisers seem exquisitely aware of this trap and determined not to fall into it.
The truth however, is a bit different. And the truth simply does not support the revisionist history about Clinton that's being spread around in attempt to fend Obama off from tilting to the left. As one GOP corporate lobbyist recently told Politico:
He recalled the arrival of President Bill Clinton in 1993. Rather than going after business, Clinton presented a moderate image and reached out to the corporate community. Clinton's goal was to "co-opt a portion of the business community" through his positions on free trade and other issues, said this lobbyist. And the strategy worked pretty effectively with global corporations.
But none of that matters, because the pundits are convinced that Clinton (and Dems) circa 1993, were left-wingers. That's what Time's Mark Halperin said on MSNBC this morning; that Clinton selected "left-wing people" to serve in his first administration. Y'know, people like Warren Christopher and Lloyd Bentsen.
Keep in mind that in comparison with the other candidates, Biden received very little coverage. (The amount was positively minuscule compared with the media circus that surrounded GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin.) Yet what little coverage Biden generated seemed at times to be devoted exclusively to the trivial pursuit of his so-called gaffes.
In other words, the gaffe coverage didn't represent some of the Biden coverage. It was the Biden coverage.
Read the rest here.