Two Cases in which I Should have Noticed This

The Media’s Enduring Pro-McCain Double-Standard

The Class War Before Sarah Palin

I know these stories are old news, but I prefer to comment on news a bit after the sizzle has subsided–it keeps my entirely stupid statements contained somewhat.  (That’s not to say I won’t make ’em, but I tend to be a hair more cautious when I’ve had a few days to think.)

Wasn’t the prevailing narrative in the 2000 primary season that the TV cameras just loved John McCain because he was opposing Bush?

Wasn’t the prevailing narrative in 2002 that the TV cameras just loved John McCain because he was supporting campaign finance reform?

Wasn’t the prevailing narrative in the last couple years that the TV cameras just loved John McCain because he was opposing torture?

And yet I actually believed (for a little while) the new prevailing narrative in late 2008 that all of a sudden the TV cameras had stopped loving John McCain.

Not so, according to Media Matters.  In fact, they note a gross double-standard when it comes to the press’s treatment of the candidates’ shady acquaintances:

Now: G. Gordon Liddy. Liddy served four and a half years in prison for his role in the break-ins at the Watergate and at Daniel Ellsberg’s psychologist’s office. He has acknowledged preparing to kill someone during the Ellsberg break-in “if necessary.” He plotted to kill journalist Jack Anderson. He plotted with a “gangland figure” to murder Howard Hunt in order to thwart an investigation. He plotted to firebomb the Brookings Institution. He used Nazi terminology to outline a plan to kidnap “leftist guerillas” at the 1972 GOP convention. And Liddy’s bad acts were not confined to the early 1970s. In the 1990s, he instructed his radio audience on how to shoot Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agents (“Go for a head shot; they’re going to be wearing bulletproof vests.” In case anyone missed the subtlety of his point, Liddy also insisted: “Kill the sons of bitches.”) During Bill Clinton’s presidency, Liddy boasted that he named his shooting targets after the Clintons.

What does Liddy have to do with the presidential election? As Media Matters has noted:

Liddy has donated $5,000 to McCain’s campaigns since 1998, including $1,000 in February 2008. In addition, McCain has appeared on Liddy’s radio show during the presidential campaign, including as recently as May. An online video labeled, “John McCain On The G. Gordon Liddy Show 11/8/07,” includes a discussion between Liddy and McCain, whom Liddy described as an “old friend.” During the segment, McCain praised Liddy’s “adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great,” said he was “proud” of Liddy, and said that “it’s always a pleasure for me to come on your program.”

Now I know that, unlike Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, who have only the truth and nothing but the truth in mind, Media Matters has a particular party’s welfare in mind when it notes the SCLM’s biases (please note tongue in cheek), so save the comment sniffing at Media Matters.  Address the facts if you have something to address.  At any rate, I think all involved can see that there are some shifts in the strike zone going on.  And given that Ayers, with whom Obama has apparently been “palling around,” blew up a statue while Liddy was conspiring to murder a human being (I know which one of those seems more important to me), the SCLM’s usual bowing to the AM noise machine in this case (and subsequently falling under the predictable charge that they’re Obama’s cheerleaders) is even funnier than usual.

For should have noticed this part two, I turn to David Brooks, whose columns have irritated me for some time (I think even before his inane Red State/Blue State riff, but I don’t remember clearly) but whose worth James K.A. Smith has slowly warmed me up to.  I’m not sure whether or not to say whether this NYT column is backtracking on his “Red State” worship, but it’s certainly a different take on things than was that piece.  The opening sentences of a recent column set up the conservative movement as an intellectual tradition at its genesis (not unlike Fundamentalism):

Modern conservatism began as a movement of dissident intellectuals. Richard Weaver wrote a book called, “Ideas Have Consequences.” Russell Kirk placed Edmund Burke in an American context. William F. Buckley famously said he’d rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the faculty of Harvard. But he didn’t believe those were the only two options. His entire life was a celebration of urbane values, sophistication and the rigorous and constant application of intellect.

Driven by a need to engage elite opinion, conservatives tried to build an intellectual counterestablishment with think tanks and magazines. They disdained the ideas of the liberal professoriate, but they did not disdain the idea of a cultivated mind.

Ronald Reagan was no intellectual, but he had an earnest faith in ideas and he spent decades working through them. He was rooted in the Midwest, but he also loved Hollywood. And for a time, it seemed the Republican Party would be a broad coalition — small-town values with coastal reach.

He finishes the piece by noting that, although Palin has personal appeal (please take that as innocent–I tried six different phrases, and none of them sounds good–I’m not trying to gender-bait here, and although I’m not as rabid a defender of women’s empowerment as the RNC becomes any time anyone does anything but lavish praise on Palin, I do try), she class-baits and press-baits like few major party candidates have dared to do.  Brooks notes that the Republican party now receives far fewer donation dollars from educated professionals than it used to and notes that, among the grand ironies, the RNC in this election cycle has gotten less of a push from bankers than have DNC candidates.  Bankers!  Think on that, friends.  Think on that.

Anyway, I do find conservatism interesting, as does Smith, and like Smith (though not as intelligently, I’m sure), I have been reading some Edmund Burke when I can concentrate on the bus ride home.  There’s something compelling about Burke’s ability to do sober, Aristotelian philosophy in an age of sometimes-breathless Englightenment optimism.  But Brooks is right that AM radio is no place for Edmund Burke.

I really should lay off the politico posts for a while.  I suppose Boethius is coming around soon enough.

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15 Comments

Filed under Political Entertainment

15 responses to “Two Cases in which I Should have Noticed This

  1. Jonathan

    Maybe when the election is over you’ll get back to writing good stuff again. 😛

  2. Probably. I hate myself more and more with every politico post, and I’ve made myself a promise that this Saturday will be my last post on the election. As we celebrate the Resurrection on the first day, I will rise from the swamp of federal mud and live in a new creation. 😉

  3. Jonathan

    Ha! Just messin’ with you. I’ll just hum to myself and bite my tongue when I read them.:)

  4. Naw. I really do need to lay off of them. As someone who has written and continues to think that obsession with federal electoral politics is often pathological, I should be taking my own medicine.

  5. So they’ve started covering the Ayers/Liddy parallels, then?

  6. ahandkerchiefsandwich

    Count me as one who thinks measuring negative and positive coverage of politics is a red herring. Not all arguments are created equal. Pretending that they are is not good journalism. I am also not one that believes that measuring negative and positive coverage of any news tells us anything about the media. It does, however, tell us about human nature. As Jack Fuller argues, news is, in part, what is interesting, and human nature shows a tropism for the negative.

  7. Jonathan

    Now, Nate, that would be shoddy journalism since there is no parallel…and for that reason I’m sure the MSM will pick up on it. However, the article I linked to does show how McCain recieves much more negative media than Obama. You’re smart, Nate. I don’t know why you pretend the media doesn’t lean left and that they don’t overwhelmingly support Obama.

  8. Jonathan:

    I don’t think the SCLM are likely to pick up on it, since the GOP hasn’t told them to. The article you linked to delineates a study correlating poll numbers with press coverage. It makes an assertion about the study being inaccurate but offers no statistics to back up that assertion.

    And if plotting to murder a reporter (as he admits in his own book) is not parallel to setting bombs on empty buildings, and if I were to cover a future president’s connections with one or the other, I know which not-parallel would occupy my attention. But then again, Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh don’t scare me as much as they scare the SCLM.

    Mr. Bones:

    The statistical studies don’t impress me much either, largely for the same reason that studies showing who the “most liberal legislator” in any term is (they happen always to be the ones running for prominent office, to everyone’s shock) don’t impress me. I’ll admit that I don’t watch much TV, and when I do, it’s usually the Fox News that’s on so many places here in Georgia, but what I’ve seen in the last few months is one candidate whose base actually likes him and accused of messianic pretension and another candidate who claims in a church that he’s going to defeat evil but who does not get called messianic.

    I’ve got two more posts on the election scheduled to go live Friday and Saturday, then I’m hangin’ ’em up and voting for Joe.

    The high road for me, lads.

  9. ahandkerchiefsandwich

    That would be shoddy journalism since there is no parallel.

    I don’t see your logic, but I also don’t see the logic that just because media analysis (or any analysis for that matter) may lead a reader or viewer to privilege one position over another that that is evidence of bias or “support.” Media should not seek to privilege one position over another, but that is another matter altogether. However, it would be equally unethical to present two positions that a rational person would agree are not equal as being of equal measure. That would be a distortion of the audience’s ability to discern between the two.
    I am reminded of the brouhaha before the second debate with Gwen Ifill. You cannot argue for any bias until you have actually heard the questions themselves. Otherwise it is a simple case of an ad hominem attack. Now, understandably, a campaign would not want to put themselves in a position where they would be confronted by such bias, but you cannot attack the moderator as being biases until you actually have evidence, i.e. the questions and moderation during the debate. Similarly, the evidence of media bias is found not in coverage that appears to be favorable or unfavorable, but in coverage that shows the distortion of an audience’s ability to rationally engage the issue at hand. Omitting the Liddy story would be an example of that, though I don’t think it is an example that though who like to tout the SCLM like. However, simply counting negative coverage and comparing it to positive coverage is not evidence of anything.

  10. vaindeludingjoys

    Nate: you hate yourself more and more with each political post? How Catholic of you.

    My solution is simple yet completely implausible: destroy all 24 hr cable news. Make people start reading the news again, for when people write, they have to finish their sentences/thoughts/lines of “logic,” unlike in conversation.

  11. I’ve made similar Postman-style suggestions, El Ick, though without the bombs. I’d prefer to encourage a monastic withdrawal from such things rather than a Stalinist purge. 😉

  12. Why can’t we have both? There were warrior monks.

  13. Jonathan

    Sorry Nate, the Weather Underground didn’t plan to blow up empty buildings. One target that they planned to hit is actually pretty close to me. They planned to build nail bombs and blow them up at an officers dance at Fort Dix. Besides the servicemen, I wonder how many wives and girlfriends would have been killed if they were successful. Luckily, they blew themselves accidentally in Greenwich Village instead.

    As for the biased media. I won’t try to persuade those that are already cemented into their position. It’s pretty damn obvious.

    On the debates, we should have had Cindy McCain moderate the debates. I’m sure no one would have complained about bias before the debates if that happened, right? 🙂

    I also don’t get the fascination with Rush and Drudge.

  14. I agree it’s obvious where the news networks get their cues. I also agree that people convinced of something are hard to persuade. Yet I keep teaching.

    I don’t get the fascination with Limbaugh and Drudge either, but when they say jump, the SCLM ask how high on the way up. We agree, though, that such a phenomenon is hard to explain.

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