In case you don’t think there are enough left-wing ideologues in the MSM already, get a load of what David Axelrod — his work having reelected Barack Obama done — is getting up to next:
President Barack Obama’s senior campaign adviser David Axelrod said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that his next project will include inspiring young people to become “journalists.”
“What do you do next?” CBS’s Bob Schieffer asked Axelrod.
“I’m going to spend part of my time starting an institute of politics at the University of Chicago,” said Axelrod. “My feeling is if I can help inspire some young people to get into this arena as candidates, as strategists, as journalists, then that would be a great contribution to make.
That ought to help rectify the terrible imblance between Left and Right in the media. Because, as Politico helpfully points out, the real problem is that the right wing lives in a Pauline Kael cocoon:
Citing Kael, one of the most prominent Republicans in the George W. Bush era complained: “We have become what the left was in the ’70s — insular.” In this reassuring conservative pocket universe, Rasmussen polls are gospel, the Benghazi controversy is worse than Watergate, “Fair and Balanced” isn’t just marketing and Dick Morris is a political seer.
Even this past weekend, days after a convincing Obama win, it wasn’t hard to find fringes of the right who are convinced he did so only because of mass voter fraud and mysteriously missing military ballots. Like a political version of “Thelma and Louise,” some far-right conservatives are in such denial that they’d just as soon keep on driving off the cliff than face up to a reality they’d rather not confront.
That cheap shot about the Rasmussen polls being “gospel” is typical ignorant Politico snark, since Rasmussen never indulged in pre-electoral happy talk and remained skeptical about the GOP’s chances right to the end. Meanwhile, I’m getting some pushback, or at least mild derision, on the center-right for my suggestion that conservatives need to create their own media operation. The Economist:
SEVERAL of my colleagues have written characteristically incisive pieces about what lessons the Republicans should take from losing an eminently winnable election. Over at the Corner, Michael Walsh and Mark Krikorian recommend a few lessons of their own. For Mr Walsh, the number one lesson learned from Tuesday’s defeat is that “the Republicans should never again agree to any debate moderated by any member of the MSM, most especially including former Democratic apparatchiks like Stephanopoulos.” That’s number one! “Republicans should immediately begin constructing their own media operation,” he writes, as if no such enterprises exist. The best-rated cable-news channel is Fox! Five of the top ten radio programmes (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin and Neal Boortz) are conservative! Messrs Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity et al have spent the last four years telling their listeners that Mr Obama is an incompetent Kenyan-Marxist-Muslim-Commie-Socialist doomed to defeat. Such sentiments soothe their listeners and are good for ratings, but the parts about incompetence and imminent defeat turned out to be false. The problem is not that conservatives lack media outlets; the problem comes when they fail to venture outside of them. Mr Walsh also advises Republicans to “lay off the social issues”, which is probably a good idea.
As President Obama likes to say: Let me be clear. I’m not talking about top-rated Fox News, which did its viewers a disservice in the run-up to the election with all its Morrisonian happy talk and constant evocation of alleged electoral truths, e.g. “no president has ever won reelection with (fill in the dismal statistical blank).” Even now, Roger Ailes ought to be thinking about a major re-tool, the retirement of some shows and the re-vamping of the evening lineup to better reflect reality and to cut way back on the relentless merchandise-hawking and self-promotion. Nor am I advocating an expansion of talk radio. In general, hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin did a very good job of preparing their listeners for what might be to come; if you wanted assurances of victory, you had to look elsewhere.
What I’m referring to is more along the Axelrod lines: the creation of a cadre of young journalists who will chase and write the stories that the ideologically blinkered MSM won’t. The dominance of the old journalistic establishment by the Left is not the result of a conspiracy, but a natural sorting-out of things; as the ’60s generation moved into positions of power, they tended to hire kids who reminded them of themselves — young, hungry, and possessed of a powerful desire to right social wrongs, as they saw them. But there are certain stories that — with the 1960s world-view — the geezers simply can’t see.
So why not celebrate diversity and do something like what Axelrod suggests on the right? We see different social wrongs — generally, macro problems as opposed to the Left’s more personal issues — but aside from the blogosphere, there’s no way to get those stories into wide intellectual circulation, and by “wide” I mean a ten-block stretch of Manhattan’s Sixth Avenue, where many legacy media companies are headquartered. Despite much wishful thinking on the right, those companies are not going to simply disappear along with the old print model of news distribution, so we’d better be ready for the next incarnation and become a partner in the national conversation.
Because this — Karl Rove and his klipboard to the contrary — is where elections are won and lost. The Democrats didn’t win by cheating or chicanery (although there was certainly some of that; Tammany Hall never dies, it just moves to Chicago), they won by mainstreaming their issues via the media. The media are the artillery wing of the Democratic party, big-bore ground softeners that pound the terrain until the once unthinkable becomes acceptable, and the formerly unacceptable becomes mandatory. It may be true that the 2012 election turned on a handful of swing states, but it never seems to occur to the GOP bean counters that a broad-based message, nationally disseminated, lifts the spirits of all voters, firing the base, persuading the persuadable, and perhaps even giving the True Believers on the other side something to think about. In other words, create a nationally convincing message and the swing-state problem suddenly disappears.
The 2016 conservative election campaign starts today, and it starts by learning from the success of the Democrats. It’s the message, stupid. Now go get better messengers.