Bring Back Spiro!

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This column by Jed Babbin isn't satire, is it? His frustrated wail about the media (the "527 media") trying to elect Democrats makes a few points (Republicans are wrong to whine about the media's culpablity in American opinion on Iraq, but probably right to complain about the endless "GOP in trouble" stories) but his prescriptions for a Republican pushback are… different.

· Produce a series of television ads going after the "527 Media."
Expose who they are and show how the typical newsroom is more like a
dysfunctional, liberal family than a business run by adults.

· It's time for the Vice President to give a speech taking the press
to task. He should name names. If Pinch Sulzberger wants to be a
political activist instead of a publisher, why not call him on it?

· Organize a group called the Swift Veteran Reporters for the Truth.
Every time one of those contrived stories comes out, make sure your
team, experienced reporters all, can access the facts and get them out
— fast—on blogs, talk radio and everywhere else.

And so on. What Babbin is suggesting is an overt, 21st century version of the Nixon administration's campaign against the press. Its point man in the campaign, remember, was Spiro Agnew. Please tell me Republicans aren't ready to knick pages from the Nixon-Agnew playbook.

A good two-part video of Agnew's press assault is archived on—where else?—YouTube. See if it sounds familiar.

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  1. Stories about the GOP being in trouble are the result of media bias? Hasn’t this guy seen an opinion poll in the past year?

    Here’s hint, Mr. Babbin – an opinion poll is one of those things that reads “38%” in those stories the liberal media keeps running about how George Bush is getting a bounce, or is about to get a bounce, or is bound to get a bounce.

    Personally, I like all the liberal media stories about how the Democrats are in disarray as they head into an election with the highest popularity in two generations.

  2. How dare they attack the media. The Democrats would never attack and try to discredit say Foxnews or anything. Never.

    Fuck the big media. Attack them and beat them down at every opportunity. If the liberals all think they are biased towards conservatives, let them do the same thing. I can’t stand any of them. The less credibility the big media has and the more people have to look and find out the truth on their own rather than getting the news and truth told to them by a news reading bimbo who got her job for having perky boobs and killer legs (yes Katie that means you) the better off the country is. The more big media is discredited the more information and thought is democratized. That is a very good thing.

  3. This just in: Republicans accuse media of liberal bias.

    I also like the implication that unregulated political contributions are repsonsible for plunging GOP polls, and that liberal families are inherently dysfunctional. I happen to know plenty of pinkos who have perfectly functional, loving families.

    Isn’t this the same sort of behaviour that conservative pubdits accuse modern democrats of; the blinkered belief that it’s failure to deliver the message, rather than the odious message itself, that results in failure at the polls?

  4. I guess it is more about the lying media. Try to convince anyone that children were not raped and murdered in the Superdome during Katrina sometime. There are perfectly informed people who ought to know better who beleive that, even though it is not true. Why because the media reported things before fact checking them and once they are out there there is no pulling them back. I wouldn’t worry so much about that if the lies didn’t always cut one way. The lies and mistakes invaribly fit one political agenda. Whether it be “masacers” in Jenin, dead, raped children in the Superdome or fake but accurate memos, the mistakes all go one way.

  5. “polls, and that liberal families are inherently dysfunctional”

    I think the quote was “show how the typical newsroom is more like a dysfunctional, liberal family than a business run by adults” I think the author meant that the newsroom is a dysfunctional family that happens to be liberal. I don’t think he meant to imply that all liberal families or a typical liberal family is dysfunctional.

  6. “polls, and that liberal families are inherently dysfunctional”

    I think the quote was “show how the typical newsroom is more like a dysfunctional, liberal family than a business run by adults” I think the author meant that the newsroom is a dysfunctional family that happens to be liberal. I don’t think he meant to imply that all liberal families or a typical liberal family is dysfunctional.

  7. The GOP actually has “best joke writers?”

    And their output is to be used as part of the election campaign?

    For the love of god, LP, please get off your ass and make that monkey’s poo ad we talked about.

  8. “Whether it be ‘masacres’ in Jenin”

    So, let’s get this straight: 56 Palestinians being killed isn’t a “massacre”, but 5 Bostonians being killed is a “massacre”.

    Jenin: http://www.rense.com/general24/dt.htm

    Boston: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Massacre

  9. “Whether it be ‘masacres’ in Jenin”

    So, let’s get this straight: 56 Palestinians being killed isn’t a “massacre”, but 5 Bostonians being killed is a “massacre”.

    Jenin: http://www.rense.com/general24/dt.htm

    Boston: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Massacre

  10. “Oh, wait a minute, the liberal media immediately discounted those stories,”

    What planet do you live on Joe. The liberal media grabbed those stories and plugged them for “George Bush hates black people and left them to die” stories for weeks. Where did most of the stories come from? The Time Picayune and Anderson Cooper for the most part. The media picked on them and ran them in the ground because they were sensational and they fit the meta story of “America is racist and all of its underlying faults have come out” and “George Bush doesn’t care about the poor or blacks”. Please feel free to show me where the media discounted those stories. You are absolutely amazing.

  11. SR,

    Personally, I think the Boston Massacre was as much a real massacre as the Boston Tea Party was a real tea party.

  12. The liberal media so discounted those stories they gave the Times Picayune a handful of Pulitzers for printing what we know now were lies.

  13. The liberal media so discounted those stories they gave the Times Picayune a handful of Pulitzers for printing what we know now were lies.

    Or at least we’re told they were lies, by…the media.

  14. No, John, the mainstream media grabbed onto those stories as you describe, along with the conservative media. The liberal media – blogs like Atrios, magazines like the Nation – were skeptical at the time they came out, and very shortly thereafter went about denouncing them as bogus.

    Which would tell a reasonably objective person something about the mainstream media’s degree and direction of bias.

    “Please feel free to show me where the media discounted those stories.”

    I actually took over a H&R thread last September by pasting the posts from Atrios and Nationa Review Online about these stories in the days after Katrina hit, to compare and contrast how the liberal and conservative media handled them. Would you like to look up the link to that thread and paste it
    here?

    Oh, I see, you’re just mindlessly swallowing the assertion that the mainstream media is the liberal media, regardless of the fact that they followed the conservative media’s script to the letter. How very typical of you.

  15. He’s misguided. The war should be on the news audience business model.

    The media only cater to their desires.

    Inner struggle, soul searching and everlasting frustration is the template.

    No story runs without it.

  16. The liberal media – blogs like Atrios, magazines like the Nation

    I was really enjoying this back-and-forth until this new definition of the liberal media. That’s just silly, joe, and you know it.

  17. It seems to me that it has been “Another Bad Day for Bush” in the MSM since early 2004. Things started sticking after Katrina. I have no empirical data, I’m just calling it like I see it.

  18. Knick? is that right? not nick?

  19. The mainstream media is liberal? Yeah right. (1) Read an openly liberal publication. (2) Read a mainstream media publication or watch one of it’s news offerings. Note the difference.

    Conservatives outnumber (by quite a bit) liberals in the mainstream media pundit count. And the “liberals” that are placed on the panels tend to more like centrists. Even PBS’s Mclaughlin Group generally features 3 conservatives versus a centrist and one liberal, and PBS is supposedly a hotbed of liberal ideologues (what a joke).

    The MSM bent over backwards for Bush on the wars (and will in the wars to come, just watch).

    If the MSM were liberal, Bush’s approval ratings would be even lower.

    “We got both kinds–country and western.”

  20. My God Ethan, how many facts can you get wrong in one post (though the Washington Post was supportive of the Iraq invasion, that much I’ll grant you- the NY Times on the other hand, wasn’t exactly bending over backward.) Let alone opinions.

    McLaughlin Group isn’t on PBS, it’s on NBC, Eleanor Clift is the token liberal, there are rotating token conservatives (with Pat Buchanan weighing in for the populist/paleo crowd). But to assert that McLaughlin has a disproportionately right-leaning crowd, you could just as well respond that Chris Matthews or other talking heads shows lean disproportionately left.

    PBS briefly flirted with conservative opinion shows, but after Ken Tomlinson left the PBS board all vestiges of conservatism (save for David Brooks on the News Hour) have disappeared. I like PBS but I’ve noticed a dramatic absence of free-market views (especially during the Social Security privatization debate).

    As for media bias studies, I can’t find it at my fingertips but there’s a well-known survey that gathered the voting records of journalists in the 90s, finding that something like 89% voted Democrat.

    This recent UCLA study found that all major media outlets scored left of center with the exception of (surprise!) Fox News and the Washington Times.

    Next thing you’ll be asserting that U.S. college campuses are a hotbed of conservative professors.

  21. I watch McLaughlin Group on New Hampshire Public Televsion, Dobbo. Strike One.

    “But to assert that McLaughlin has a disproportionately right-leaning crowd, you could just as well respond that Chris Matthews or other talking heads shows lean disproportionately left.” No, not really. Every breakdown of guests on political talk shows I have ever seen – PBS, the networks, CNN, Fox, all of em – has shown a much higher number of Republicans and conservatives than Democrats and liberals. You could do some research, maybe.

    “I like PBS but I’ve noticed a dramatic absence of free-market views (especially during the Social Security privatization debate).” I guess all those episodes of Wall Street Week and the Nightly Business Report were induced by the gallon-size Niquil I bought at Costco.

    “there’s a well-known survey that gathered the voting records of journalists in the 90s, finding that something like 89% voted Democrat.” An oft-cited report. Unfortunately, journalists don’t control what gets aired; producters, editors, and owners decide that, and they are similarly skewed towards the Republicans.

  22. I think the MSM is slightly liberal but exclusively anti-libertarian.

  23. joshua,

    There have actually been studies done of the political preferences of media elites. As it turns out, they are more pro-“free trade” than the population at large, less likely to support a single-payer health care system, and more supportive of Social Security privatization. They are also less supportive of a flag burning amendment and more supportive of Constitutional protections for accused criminals. Each of these positions is pro-libertarian, even if they do treat self-proclaimed libertarians like circus freaks.

    There are an awful lot of media, but in the aggregate, media bias aligns with the opinions of the wealthy and educated vs. those of the poor and less educated, which cuts across the left-right spectrum.

  24. It would be a cinch to bring back Spiro because William Safire is still kicking and still has his wits about him.
    The problem is that speeches with nifty rhetorical flourishes by members of the current Bush administration could not be pulled off. Dubya has hopelessly dumbed down speechifying.
    Speech-writers today must promise to check at least thirty percent of their wit at the door.

  25. joe, you can have your “facts”, but I have something much better. I have truthiness. If it feels right to me then that’s good enough.

  26. There have actually been studies done of the political preferences of media elites.

    Studies? really? Wow! I should trust what you say about these “studies” to right?

  27. less likely to support a single-payer health care system,…Each of these positions is pro-libertarian

    Umm I don’t think so.

  28. Dobbo,

    McLaughlin group is on PBS. I watch it often. So there’s your first misstep.

    Second, I said nothing about Democrats. I was talking about liberal versus conservative. The fact that someone votes for a Democrat doesn’t mean that that someone is a liberal. So there is your second misstep. Besides, reporters don’t make the decisions about what we see–their bosses do. Check how they vote if you want to (again, not that it matters). Number three.

    An absence of free-market views on PBS? All those business shows are what, underwritten by The Nation? You need to look no further than reason magazine itself a few months back to see that PBS is run by conservatives. Number four.

    The McL Group normally has 2 conservatives, not counting the host: Pat B and that Jabba-esque dude from the Washington Times (they are almost always there). Clift is the liberal, and the fourth chair is usually taken by a centrist, but sometimes by a right-winger and sometimes by someone a left-winger, but never anyone as left as Clift (who, by the way, isn’t a radical leftist). I’ve lost count of your errors at this point.

    The MSM did not stand up to question the administration’s story about the justification for invading Iraq until it was way too late. If liberals were running the media he never would have got away with it.

    I stand by every word I wrote.

  29. Don’t take anyone’s word for anyting, joshua. Don’t take mine, don’t take that of politicians who get by on bashing the media.

    Look up the studies for yourself, and draw your own conclusions, as I have.

    And, ok, “pro-libertarian” isn’t the best way to phrase that, but I think my point is pretty clear.

  30. If liberals were running the media he never would have got away with it.

    Ethan falls into the trap that Bushes invasion of Iraq is not an extention of “liberal” (not really liberal but wilsonian left) ideology.

    which is actaully kind of weird becosue he catches this one:

    The fact that someone votes for a Democrat doesn’t mean that that someone is a liberal.

  31. Should have gotten back to this post earlier as I doubt any of the respondents will read it, but christ, way to ignore or dissemble half of my points. At least I linked to some research (which neither of you addressed, as I’m guessing you didn’t bother to read it) as opposed to making unsubstantiated references (unless you call “go look up the studies” as substantiated).

    Regarding McLaughlin Group, I’ve lived in 2 parts of the country where this aired on NBC, so I incorrectly concluded it aired exclusively there as opposed to being syndicated, my mistake. Seeing that this is a libertarian blog perhaps I could have been more nuanced, but aside from locally-owned newspapers and the two right-of-center sources I cited, I would characterize the aggregate media as center-left (and a lot of legitimate, peer-reviewed research would back me up on this). RTFS.

    Ethan, if you’d been paying attention to the ongoing PBS saga, you would have noticed that Tomlinson, the Bush appointee, was forced off the board, and along with him went the conservative opinion shows (Tucker Carlson and Wall Street Journal report). I haven’t seen anything in Reason after his resignation, so please enlighten me if I missed something. Wall Street Week and Nightly Business Report largely consist of business and financial news, pretty much down the middle (with 5 minutes of commentary in the latter case at the end, coming from a fairly diverse range of views). News Hour is fairly centrist, Washington Week in Review center-left, Inside Washington is center-left except for Krauthammer, and NOW is WAY left (though I think increasingly independent, I am enjoying the cognitive dissonance of liberals forced to confront the premise of Big Government Republicans).

    I don’t know where you and Joe get the idea that conservative pundits dominate the media; with the exception of Fox News I find most shows have one or two token conservatives, one or two token liberals and then the so-called “centrists” (usually established journalists, think Gloria Borger and David Broder), who invariably fall slightly left of center, unless your idea of the center is Berkeley or Greenwich Village.

    Maybe we’ve got a problem of parallax shift, where your concept of the center is far different than mine (I’ve always considered myself a conservative libertarian, with an emphasis on the libertarian). This is what media research is for, and I’m still waiting for someone to link to some credible evidence of the vast right-wing media conspiracy.

    And Joe, I’d love to see those links to the studies supporting this wave of libertarian (or free market, or whatever you want to call it) thought in the media.

  32. Should have gotten back to this post earlier as I doubt any of the respondents will read it, but christ, way to ignore or dissemble half of my points. At least I linked to some research (which neither of you addressed, as I’m guessing you didn’t bother to read it) as opposed to making unsubstantiated references (unless you call “go look up the studies” as substantiated).

    Regarding McLaughlin Group, I’ve lived in 2 parts of the country where this aired on NBC, so I incorrectly concluded it aired exclusively there as opposed to being syndicated, my mistake. Seeing that this is a libertarian blog perhaps I could have been more nuanced, but aside from locally-owned newspapers and the two right-of-center sources I cited, I would characterize the aggregate media as center-left (and a lot of legitimate, peer-reviewed research would back me up on this). RTFS.

    Ethan, if you’d been paying attention to the ongoing PBS saga, you would have noticed that Tomlinson, the Bush appointee, was forced off the board, and along with him went the conservative opinion shows (Tucker Carlson and Wall Street Journal report). I haven’t seen anything in Reason after his resignation, so please enlighten me if I missed something. Wall Street Week and Nightly Business Report largely consist of business and financial news, pretty much down the middle (with 5 minutes of commentary in the latter case at the end, coming from a fairly diverse range of views). News Hour is fairly centrist, Washington Week in Review center-left, Inside Washington is center-left except for Krauthammer, and NOW is WAY left (though I think increasingly independent, I am enjoying the cognitive dissonance of liberals forced to confront the premise of Big Government Republicans).

    I don’t know where you and Joe get the idea that conservative pundits dominate the media; with the exception of Fox News I find most shows have one or two token conservatives, one or two token liberals and then the so-called “centrists” (usually established journalists, think Gloria Borger and David Broder), who invariably fall slightly left of center, unless your idea of the center is Berkeley or Greenwich Village.

    Maybe we’ve got a problem of parallax shift, where your concept of the center is far different than mine (I’ve always considered myself a conservative libertarian, with an emphasis on the libertarian). This is what media research is for, and I’m still waiting for someone to link to some credible evidence of the vast right-wing media conspiracy.

    And Joe, I’d love to see those links to the studies supporting this wave of libertarian (or free market, or whatever you want to call it) thought in the media.

  33. Ethan falls into the trap that Bushes invasion of Iraq is not an extention of “liberal” (not really liberal but wilsonian left) ideology.

    This is a strange comment. How could I have fallen into that trap if I am not using the word “liberal” in the way you do in your comment? In fact, you yourself admit that the use of the word “liberal” is not actually proper, and that “wilsonian left” would be better. So we both agree that the war is not properly considered a “liberal” war (a war based on “liberal” ideology). So what I said stands. If this is a trap, someone forgot to lock the door.

    When people (here) say that the MSM has a liberal bias they are not equating the media outlook with Wilsonianism. They have something different in mind, and that is what I was focusing on. There are many senses of “liberal” (in fact, in one sense conservatives are liberal–classically speaking–but when people say that the media has a liberal bias they typically do not mean that the media is conservative, do they?).

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