Today's must-read tilt up the kilt of Washington, D.C., comes care of the Washington Post, which attended a liberal pundit talking-head "boot camp" organized by the leftoid partisans at Media Matters for America. Keep those barf bags handy, and let's take a peek:
Over four grueling days, Harvard-honed instructors drilled a dozen softie policy wonks, molding them into an elite unit of smiling, succinct and well-coiffed talking heads.
Since its inception in August 2009, the Progressive Talent Initiative, or PTI, has trained nearly 100 pundits who have appeared 800 times on television and radio. Media Matters uses that metric to pitch donors for more contributions, but its leadership believes that the surge of camera-ready liberals has recaptured lost ground in the media wars against conservatives.
"There was a chronic imbalance," said David Brock, the founder of Media Matters, which picks up the entire cost of the course. [...]
To observe the training, The Post agreed to withhold the names of participants who asked not to be identified, which many of them did when instructors warned that a public alliance with Media Matters could jeopardize their chances of getting booked on Fox. [...]
The problem for the soldiers of the left, according to Media Matters instructors, is that they are just too smart for their own good. The traditional dependence on facts and figures, on being right, is no longer germane. Too often these wonks disappear into the policy weeds or fall through the cracks of nuance. [...]
The morning was dominated by a PowerPoint presentation by Drew Westen, the Democratic message guru and author of "The Political Brain." Westen, wearing a boxy jacket, glasses and suspenders, showed examples of the right's genius for branding (from "government takeover" to "death taxes") and the left's relative ineptitude. Westen said that the tea party's "populist message, tinged with racism" was effective [...]
After another hour of practice, the class recessed into the drizzle. Some stuck around to "brainstorm on structural racism."
Full disclosure: I haven't taken any media training (as it probably shows!), but I don't see anything wrong with the concept (aside from the lack-of-disclosure bit). Cable punditizing is pretty weird, and takes getting used to. I'm mostly interested in how liberal, D.C.-based pundits in the Year of Our Lord 2011 can still be nursing the creation mythology that the cable television deck (to say nothing of the power that runs the country) is stacked against them, and that they are just too dang factual, dang it!