July 11, 2009

Tell half your readers to just go away...

Highly recommended: Carl M. Cannon, Sarah 'Barracuda' Palin and the Piranhas of the Press

...Meanwhile, an unrelated development put journalism on the firing line.

That event was the decline of conservative, mostly Southern, Democrats (and, eventually, liberal Republicans as well). A patchwork quilt of ideology and regionalism gave way to a U.S. political system more closely resembling that of Great Britain. Today, an American who is liberal tends to be a Democrat, a conservative is almost always a Republican. This may help clarify things for voters, but it created a little-understood crisis for journalists. If being "liberal" now meant sympathy for the Democratic Party, and being conservative implied sympathy for Republicans, all those liberal newsrooms across the country were gradually going to alienate themselves from about half their readers.

That this might pose a problem never dawned on the men and women who controlled the media — even as it drove their right-of-center readers and viewers away in droves. When I tell my friends working in places like The New York Times that they created Rush Limbaugh, they respond with shock and disbelief. But it's obvious to me that it's true, even as the anointed sages of the Old Media solemnly denied that an animal such as "liberal bias" existed at all....

Most people today don't even realize that there used to be conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans! When I was a boy the most important liberal vs conservative wars were within the two parties. The rise of Goldwater conservatism was a revolt within the Republican party against "eastern establishment liberals" such as Nelson Rockefeller. And the Democrats back then were the (very Catholic) party of traditional morality. Also the party of Southern white racists.

If you are still not sure that the press was grossly unfair to Palin, Cannon lays out the facts in great detail. It was absurd, insane, and utterly vile and dishonest!

Posted by John Weidner at July 11, 2009 9:32 AM
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