Sometimes I get a little frustrated with media critic Bob Somerby of the Daily Howler because he’s a little too cryptic about what he thinks drives lousy media coverage. But on Thursday he wasn’t:
Which raises a question: Why would conservative pundits have screamed if their candidate had been getting savaged? Our guess: Because conservative pundits can make a good living within the realm of the conservative press corps! They get hired, for good pay, by conservative entities. And they get paid to voice conservative views within the mainstream press.
Conservative voices can earn a living within the conservative press corps. But liberal voices earn their Jaguars within the mainstream press. Thus, liberals defer to the mainstream press–and conservatives are much more free to attack it. Over the past sixteen years, this has drastically tipped the scales against progressive and Dem Party interests.
Based on those assumptions, here’s the basic shape of your ongoing discourse:
Over the course of the past sixteen years, the mainstream press corps has increasingly become more Republican, more conservative, more wealthy, more corporate. On the presidential level, they have made secular saints out of several Republicans–and they have savaged Big Dems. How much of that reflects a structural change? How much of that has simply reflected a personal, crackpot war against Clinton/Gore? We’ll get a chance to ponder that question if Obama gets to the White House. But as these processes have played out, your liberal leaders have relentlessly kept their traps shut. The U. S. Army is in Iraq today because they deferred to the mainstream consensus–in 1999. When Ceci Connolly and the Post were blatantly savaging Gore.
Did young liberal superstars keep their traps shut, hoping for mainstream wealth and glory? We don’t have the slightest idea. By the way: Did you hear that progressive feminist Rachel Maddow thinks Chris Matthews is just super-brilliant?
Snark aside, I think Somerby is right. If you think about it, there isn’t much money, particularly stable money analogous to wingnut welfare (e.g., conservative think tanks and magazines that hire loyalists) for the leftosphere. This leaves two choices: cash in or get out.
Or read the internetz….
The right spent its time in the wilderness cultivating an entire self-supporting alternative media ecosystem from the ground up.
In example: For conservatives of modest means pushing, supporting and being part of this ecosystem is a real career boost. Going to party meetings gets your foot in the door. Writing sympathetic or attack pieces in the newspaper editorial gets you noticed. You start meeting people in positions of power and wealth. Your name starts showing upon short lists for jobs.
Gain a reputation for party loyalty and the ability to write and you might get into one of the conservative writers groups. Show some talent for creative thought and you could get into one of the many lucrative think-tanks.
Play your cards right and play a pivotal role in a political fight and you could see a seat on a corporate board or two. Show up four times a year and don’t make waves for a six-figure check.
Over time conservatives have cultivated thousands of well-paid positions for loyalists. This has several effects. It means that they can reward loyalists and those who do the dirty work. Once in this corporate sponsored welfare system it also guarantees loyalty. What the party gives the party can take away. It also means loyalists can be as outrageous as they like without fear of becoming unemployed. Fired from an editorial position in a major newspaper they areimediately slotted into the loyalist welfare system.
This allows the party to test and mainstream ideas without fear.
Typically the economics are that the public good is traded for donations to loyalist charities, study groups, think-tanks and campaign financing. Unable to give a candidate money directly a large check is cut to a non-profit of charity front. This organization often is a place where the loyalist’s spouses are employed. Often making huge paychecks for precious little work. The organization is also good place to park and reward loyalists and idiot family members.
The party is happy to provide because as individuals and entire families get involved they become more and more dependent on their positions, sweetheart deals and accustomed to wealth, limited power and being around the movers. And loath to give it all up.
This is machine politics. Mafia with cheer leading and without so much blood. Offending this system leads to violence to your finances and to your reputation.
The left has never been so good at this game. The machine politics of Chicago, Democratic but conservative, were as close as it got. The playing field will not be level until the left can cultivate its own stockpile of loyalist welfare positions and mutually supporting finances. As it is not liberal voices that cross the line get smeared and crippled financially. For the left there is very little in the way of a safety net for loyalists. Each has to fight alone and risk everything.
I didn’t know where to place this comment, and I apologize if I missed the putt….
There is a Friday afternoon freebie conference at Harvard Law School titled Restoring America After Bush hosted by The Jewish Alliance For Law and Social Action. From their press release, the panelists include:
Panelists include Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, who serves on the Select Committee on Intelligence and on the Judiciary Committee; Prof. Andrew Bacevich of Boston University, a widely published expert on international security affairs; F.A.O. Schwarz, Jr., of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School; Louis Fisher, distinguished constitutional law specialist at the Library of Congress; Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute; Prof. Charles A. Fried, Beneficial Professor of Law at the Harvard Law School and former solicitor general of the United States; and Prof. Detlev Vagts, Bemis Professor of International Law, Emeritus, also of Harvard Law School.
The link at my name goes to the conference brochure. RSVP necessary.
That was nice and simple post.
Upright’s last post…upright exercise bikes