Man Without Qualities

Thursday, December 05, 2002

The Why of It III

The evidence mounts that Democratic complaints about the influence of conservative media are intended to stir up what the Democrats view as a base constituency: newsmedia reporters and management, as noted in one prior post and discussed further in another. Specifically and completely predictably, the Durbin, Daschle, Gore "B" team having failed, Bill Clinton - the "A" team - has now tried to make the same paranoiac song fly high. As related by John Fund:

This week the former president [Bill Clinton] told the Democratic Leadership Council that successful Republican candidates were aided by an "increasingly right-wing and bellicose conservative press" which was drowning out "an increasingly docile establishment press." (Full disclosure: According to a Fox News report, "he cited only the Wall Street Journal by name.") Calling conservative criticism of Sen. Daschle "unconscionable," Mr. Clinton railed that Republicans "have a destruction machine. We don't have a destruction machine."

Yes, yes, Mr. Clinton says the Republicans have their Destruction Machine (although apparently according to a Fox News report, "he cited only the Wall Street Journal by name" - at least rectifying Mr. Gore's previous inexplicable omission of the Journal from his rant). And Mr. Clinton wants his own Democrat Destruction Machine! Heck, his comments are reminiscent of lines from Young Frankenstein: "A riot is an ugly thing! And I think it is just about time we had one!"

And just where would this Democratic Destruction Machine come from? Why, it already exists!

It's de-lightful!
It's de-licious!
It's de-famatory!
It's de-New York Times!
It's de-L A Times!
It's de-CNN!
It's D. Rather!
It's de-TIME!
It's de-Newsweek!
It's de-lovely!

But it just wasn't working all that well during the last election cycle! As Mr. Clinton puts it: The Democrat Destruction Machine – that part of the Democrat base - was just too docile.

Mr. Fund continues:

[T]here may be a method to the madness. Democrats appear to have concluded that if you can't beat the conservative media at their game, you join them and up the ante. During the same news conference in which Mr. Daschle warned that talk radio may be stoking something akin to religious violence in America, he admitted Democrats may follow the example. "We were just talking with some experts a couple of days ago about how, if we're going to break through as Democrats, we have to have the same edge that Republicans do--you know, Rush Limbaugh and all of the Rush Limbaugh wannabes have a very shrill edge, and that's entertainment."

But what to do about the economics of news coverage? People don't seem to want to listen to or watch the Democrat Destruction Machine like they once did:

The New York Times reports that "Fox has a solid lead over CNN, and has left MSNBC in the dust." Fox's prime-time ratings are up 17% from a year ago, while CNN's are down 31%. Even so, Fox's audience is still dwarfed by that of the major network news broadcasts, which Andy Rooney of CBS News recently acknowledged lean left. Mr. Rooney added that while he "always agreed" with his colleague Dan Rather, he admitted that he was "transparently liberal" and "should be more careful."

And, worse, the economics of news coverage - especially the success of Fox News - are reportedly increasingly tempting some mainstream media companies to reign in their liberal bias in order to hold onto their audiences - a threat to the Democrats!

Got to stir up the base to stop that from happening! Go for it, Bill! Go for it now!

The Federal Communications Commission is just going to make the economics pressure even worse in the future!

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has more.

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