Thursday, October 27, 2016


You may have seen the recent high-level discussions online of the degenerate state of rightblogger discourse, based on "Want to save the Republican Party? Drain the right-wing media swamp" by Catherine Rampell at the Washington Post.

If you've been reading alicublog for any length of time, you may have thought: yeah so? Because ugh, I've been covering that mess since 2003 (since 2002, really), and as followers of Max Blumenthal, Rick Perlstein and others know, it's been going on much longer than that. Ur-shitheels like William Buckley, Richard Viguerie, Paul Weyrich, Adolph Coors et alia accelerated the metastasis that has given us the Limbaughs, Savages, Coulters et alia of today, whose poisonous influence has corrupted our policy discussions to point where a large plurality of Americans think climate scientists are con artists trying to steal the honest living of oil company executives, universal healthcare is impossible, and toleration of minorities is contrary to the wishes of the Founding Fathers.

Well, Megan McArdle is here to tell us that this is all the fault of the liberal media -- liberal media, in this case, meaning large media outlets that are not Fox, nor the various rightwing print publications from the Washington Times to the San Diego Union-Tribune. 

Those organizations may have money and readerships, but they have not the cachet of the New York Times and the Washington Post, and McArdle seems to consider that cachet -- despite her long ultra-capitalist bona fides -- to be a public trust, access to which her friends in the Movement -- that is, "serious conservative journalists" -- are entitled.

The media is liberal, McArdle assures, because all the people who go into it are liberal, at least so far as she knows, and she knows everybody. And their liberal bias asserts itself in tricksy ways:
The process mostly operates subconsciously; it is entirely possible to believe that you are being strenuously fair while setting the bar higher for believing “conservative” stories and liking conservative politicians than for “liberal” ones. An unlikeable liberal politician will still be disliked; an irrefutable “conservative” fact will still be accepted. But in the mushy middle, the ground will tilt toward liberalism.
You will not be surprised to hear that McArdle offers no actual examples of mushy middle liberal bias; perhaps that would require a search engine using mushy logic, and it has not yet been developed.

That the media refuses to hire her friends is unfair, because they're really terrific journalists. Her only named example is -- oh, come on, you'll never guess:
I could point out that Rampell is remarkably ungenerous in ignoring the many serious conservative journalists who spoke out early and often against Donald Trump, including an entire “Against Trump” issue of the National Review, the elder statesman of right-wing journalism. (The National Review also printed an editorial unequivocally stating that then-President-Elect Barack Obama was a natural-born U.S. citizen.)
National Review's NeverTrump issue was, as I covered at the Village Voice, ridiculous, a mass knee-jerk by establishment conservatives who'd spent their professional lives building a quasi-journalistic bureaucracy that they suddenly found threatened by the rise of a reactionary who'd stolen their thunder but owed them nothing.  And their grudging editorial defense of Obama's citizenship ("We are used to seeing conspiracy theories from the Left, for instance among the one in three Democrats who believe that 9/11 was an inside job...") was yet followed by crypto-birther essays by such as Andrew C. McCarthy's ("This certification is not the same thing as the certificate").

This bare evidence McArdle stretches into a case that there are "so many of those [conservative] outlets" that "remain committed to careful reporting and debunking things like the Obama birth certificate nonsense, rather than simply pandering to their readers" that we must take them seriously and grant them MSNBC press passes.

But she doesn't name any others. Who are these worthies? Who at National Review qualifies as a serious journalist who might be suitable for promotion? Those few who've had the qualifications already got jobs in the liberal media -- Robert Costa at the Washington PostAlexis Levinson at Buzzfeed, et alia.

In other words, the market seems to be doing a good job of promoting those conservative journalists who can perform actual journalism. Whom else would McArdle promote? Certainly none of her own former interns would do.

If you don't accept that the best conservative journos are being nefariously kept out of the better publications, nor that the lack of such reporters has left important stories unrevealed to the public, then McArdle has another, entirely different angle for you -- this one focusing on the conservative journos who aren't so good, but it's not their fault -- they're depraved on account of they're deprived:
Conservative media, in other words, became an ideological ghetto. And ghettos often develop pathologies...
What would fix the problem is if the folks in the castle made a concerted effort to open the doors and persuade some of the swamp-dwellers to move inside. Not just to move inside, but to help run the place, pushing back on liberal pieties and dubious claims with the same fervor that liberals push back on conservative ones. 
Yes, the former Jane Galt is arguing for affirmative action for wingnuts. If only someone could get her to reverse-engineer her metaphor and apply it to black people.

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