By Ron Harris (in part)
My column topic this week was going to be America’s “new” journalism -- those publicists who masquerade as journalists, and the hypocrisy of the left-wing pundits and their minions. But, dang it, Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard and John Nolte of BigGovernment.com beat me to the punch.
Here is a portion of Nolte’s right-on column:
CNN Anchor to Shirley Sherrod: Would you like to see [Andrew Breitbart's] site shut down?
Shirley Sherrod: “That would be a great thing. Because I don’t see how that advances us in this country.”
Jonathan Zasloff, a law professor at UCLA on JournoList: “I hate to open this can of worms,” he wrote, “but is there any reason why the FCC couldn’t simply pull [Fox's'] broadcasting permit once it expires?”
Why so fascist?
As a proud dues-paying member of The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, here’s a little peek behind the curtain…
Never once, not even in private — not even as the entire corrupted media was savaging Sarah Palin’s family and reporting on the status of a private citizen’s plumber’s license — not even as the whole of the MSM was spreading lies told by the Congressional Black Caucus about the Tea Party hurling racial slurs — not even after reading what we already knew to be true on JournoList — and not even now as we watch all the hypocritical sanctimony surrounding Shirley Sherrod drip from the same MSM lips that refused to broadcast videos proving the Tea Party had been defamed by members of Congress — never once have I heard a fellow Vast Right-Wing Conspirator even hint at the idea of silencing, quieting, or shutting down the other side.
As a former Leftist I do, however, understand the knee-jerk leap to fascism. Being a Leftist sucks when it comes to political debate. You really only have two choices to try and convince others that your progressive ideas and values aren’t toxic, and that’s emotionalism, lies, or both. I remember how frustrating that was and so it only makes sense that Leftists would find appealing everything from a literal “shut up” straight through to wishing that America wasn’t a democracy but instead the kind of country with a government willing and able to permanently silence those opinion and broadcast outlets a chosen few don’t agree with or don’t think “advances us in this country.”
Can you imagine the howls from the left if any right-winger were to propose the same sanctions on the media (let’s pull the license of MSNBC and storm the NYTimes’ building) that the people above advocate?
The direction of today’s Fourth Estate should disturb every free-thinking American, and the revelation by the Daily Caller of the “JournoList” is a prime example. When journalists conspire, even loosely and spontaneously, in an effort to promote or hinder political candidates, Americans have lost their only really effective watchdog. Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard penned a piece for the Wall Street Journal about this "Vast Left-Wing Media Conspiracy":
This week, Mr. Carlson produced a series of JournoList emails from April 2008, when Barack Obama's presidential bid was in serious jeopardy. Videos of the antiwhite, anti-American sermons of his Chicago pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, had surfaced, first on ABC and then other networks.
JournoList contributors discussed strategies to aid Mr. Obama by deflecting the controversy. They went public with a letter criticizing an ABC interview of Mr. Obama that dwelled on his association with Mr. Wright. Then, Spencer Ackerman of The Washington Independent proposed attacking Mr. Obama's critics as racists. He wrote:
"If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they've put upon us. Instead, take one of them—Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares—and call them racists. . . . This makes them 'sputter' with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction."
No one on JournoList endorsed the Ackerman plan. But rather than object on ethical grounds, they voiced concern that the strategy would fail or possibly backfire.
Among journalists in general, there's always been a herd instinct. Eugene McCarthy, the Minnesota senator and Democratic presidential candidate, once described political writers as birds on a telephone wire. When one bird flew to the wire across the street, they all did. In Mr. Ackerman's case, I'm glad none of the birds joined him across the street.
We've often seen media groupthink in campaigns. In 1980, most of the media decided that President Jimmy Carter was being mean-spirited in his re-election effort with his harsh denunciations of Ronald Reagan, his Republican opponent. The media turned the meanness issue into major story. In 1992, journalists treated the economy as if it were dead in the water, though a recovery from a mild recession had begun early the previous year. I could go on.
I think JournoList is—or was—fundamentally different, and not simply because one of its members proposed to make palpably false accusations. As best I can tell, those involved in JournoList considered themselves part of a team. And their goal was to make sure the team won. In 2008, this was Mr. Obama's team. More recently, the goal seems to have been to defeat the conservative team.
Until JournoList came along, liberal journalists were rarely part of a team. Neither are conservative journalists today, so far as I know. If there's a team, no one has asked me to join. As a conservative, I normally write more favorably about Republicans than Democrats and I routinely treat conservative ideas as superior to liberal ones. But I've never been part of a discussion with conservative writers about how we could most help the Republican or the conservative team.
I had a crusty old editor many years ago whose philosophy was “If we as journalists don’t regularly bite politicians’ and government’s butt, politicians and government will regularly bite off more than they can chew.”
In short, the media should always be an adversary of government. It’s mind-boggling why so-called “journalists” of today don’t seem to understand that basic premise of a free press.
Parting thought: This wisdom by Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing the majority opinion in the Citizens United campaign finance case, is excellent ammunition for use against the fascists among us:
“When government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought. This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.”
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