Once upon a time, the right had (some) reason to complain about media bias, acknowledges Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall, but these days, not so much. According to Marshall, when conservatives back in the day “went about creating their own counter-establishment,” what they built wasn’t a normal mirror image, but a funhouse-mirror image. For example, "Fox News [was] the supposed antidote to the 'liberal media'. Of course, Fox is 'conservative' in a way that the mid-century elite media simply never was. And with generations of ref-playing what had been a vaguely establishment liberal national press ceased almost entirely to be so."
Tom Johnson covers mostly websites (e.g., Salon, Talking Points Memo, Daily Kos) for NewsBusters. He blogged frequently for the site from 2005 until 2007 and has been a regular contributor since 2011. From 1989 until 2002, he was an entertainment analyst for the Media Research Center and its spinoff, the Parents Television Council. From July 2004 until June 2005, he monitored National Public Radio for the MRC. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona.
This past Monday in TNR, Eric Kleefeld had a message for self-satisfied liberals: Don’t apologize for your smugness. Own it. Why not? You’ve “been right all along” about Donald Trump’s candidacy. Kleefeld wrote that “Republican voters this year behaved exactly as the smuggest liberal would’ve predicted, supporting a race-baiting pseudo-strongman who is basically an outgrowth of the conservative infotainment complex.”
It’s often noted that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the most disliked presidential nominees in a long, long time. Vox’s Klein claimed in a Tuesday piece that their unpopularity extends to the media, especially in Trump’s case. “While it’s ridiculous to suggest the media likes Hillary Clinton — her relationship with the press is famously, legendarily toxic — the media is increasingly biased against Trump,” acknowledged Klein. “He really is getting different, harsher treatment than any candidate in memory. That he deserves it is important context to the discussion, but not, I think, the whole explanation.”
As you probably know, Sean Hannity and The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens recently sniped at each other regarding Donald Trump. Those hostilities, suggested Zack Beauchamp in a Monday piece, were more on the level of an NFL intrasquad game than, say, Steelers vs. Ravens in the playoffs. Beauchamp argues that Hannity and Stephens, whatever their differences over the GOP nominee, have something much more important in common: a “conservative worldview, defined by a widespread acceptance of unsupportable ideas, that helped give rise to Trump.”
Former MSNBC pundit Wolffe is now a columnist for the U.S. edition of the left-wing British newspaper The Guardian. This past Tuesday, he declared that “we already have a winner in the 2016 election…Someone the pundits wrote off long ago…An unconventional politician… His name is Barack Obama. And he can thank the freak show that is Donald Trump’s Republican party for restoring his stature as a unifying, national leader with a moderated and mature approach to a complex and unstable world.”
Plenty of Republicans have been lamenting their party’s nomination of “the one guy who cannot beat the historically unpopular Hillary Clinton,” but Gary Legum thinks they’re assuming facts not in evidence. In a Friday article, Legum indicated that Hillary would have been a prohibitive favorite against anyone the GOP might have chosen. He opined that the Republicans’ so-called deep bench was a mirage and argued, "For the GOP to nominate someone capable of beating Hillary Clinton in 2016, it would have had to have been a completely different GOP since at least 1992. And if that GOP existed, Clinton would not be a weak and unpopular figure, because she would not have spent 25 years being hit with every ridiculous charge under the sun."
Donald Trump has, to borrow a phrase from Barack Obama, changed the trajectory of the GOP, contended Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Marshall in a Thursday post. “The white ethno-nationalist party which Trump has brought out of the shadows and mobilized,” wrote Marshall, “is now and will continue to be the Republican party…This seems like a transformative event.” Even if “committed Trump supporters” constitute only “10% to 20%” of the party, argued Marshall, it doesn’t matter: “If Trumpism were simply a loud and radical faction within the GOP, there would be some comparable faction opposing it…But there's not. In other words, the size of the Trumpite faction within the GOP (and I'd argue it's quite large) is beside the point because it demonstrably rules the GOP.”
The day before Donald Trump reflected on “Second Amendment people” and their response to Hillary Clinton’s taste in judges, he made news with a speech about economics. To The New Republic’s Brian Beutler, the takeaway there was that Trump had “adopted [both] Paul Ryan’s tax policy and the GOP’s gaffe-centered 2012 campaign strategy of misquoting or misrepresenting the Democratic candidate’s words.” Beutler argued that the two were related since Trump, “vulnerable to criticism from Hillary” on tax issues, has taken the offensive by lying about Clinton’s tax proposals -- specifically, by “claim[ing] that she pledged to raise middle-class taxes."
The Republican Party needs to be soundly thrashed, or maybe even euthanized, believes Esquire’s Pierce, who wrote in a Friday post that “it long has been the duty of the Democratic Party to the nation to beat the crazy out of the Republican Party until it no longer behaves like a lunatic asylum. The opportunity to do this…never has been as wide and gleaming as it is right now." In Pierce’s view, Donald Trump took advantage of an ideologically intoxicated GOP: "Modern conservatism has proven to be not a philosophy, but a huge dose of badly manufactured absinthe. It squats in an intellectual hovel now, waiting for its next fix, while a public madman filches its tattered banner and runs around wiping his ass with it…Trump doesn't need an intervention. His party does."
There’s a famous line attributed to Henry Kissinger about the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s: “It's a pity they can't both lose.” Left-wing Washington Monthly blogger David Atkins adapted Kissinger’s quip for his Tuesday post about whether “vicious, ignorant megalomaniac” Donald Trump is “more contemptible” than “steely-eyed devotee of Ayn Rand” Paul Ryan.
According to Tomasky, Democrats shouldn’t feel lucky that they haven’t dealt with a loose-cannon celebrity candidate à la Donald Trump. Rather, they should be proud that their party wouldn’t come close to nominating anyone like that in the first place. “I feel for conservative pundits and thinkers to some extent, I really do,” wrote Tomasky in a Monday column. “I’ve wondered many times what I would do if the situation were reversed. But here’s the thing: The situation is not reversed. And it would never be reversed. The idea that the Democrats would nominate Sean Penn or, I don’t know, Alan Grayson...or Charlie Sheen or Susan Sarandon or whomever is totally insane.”
Recently, both Vox’s Zack Beauchamp and New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait have argued that ideological conservatism isn’t (and never has been) the major reason for Republican electoral success, and that those who consistently vote GOP because they believe in small government and low taxes are greatly outnumbered by those who do so because they’re racists.
Kevin Drum has been blogging for a long time, so it’s not surprising that he’s got a flair for clickbait. You have to admit that the Monday headline “Hillary Clinton Is One of America’s Most Honest Politicians” is quite an attention-grabber. Of course, whether or not it’s true is another matter. Drum commented, “All politicians lie sometimes. That includes Hillary Clinton. But...Hillary is one of the most honest politicians on the national stage...I know it's in their partisan self interest for conservatives to insist that Hillary is the world's biggest liar. But she isn't. Not by a long, long way. Republicans need to get the beam out of their own eye before they keep banging on about the mote in Hillary's.”
Is media bias just smart marketing? Yes, suggests Taibbi, who claims it’s “irrelevant” that “most individual reporters” are liberals given that their profit-driven, audience-conscious corporate overlords keep them on a short leash. “Whatever their personal leanings, influential reporters mostly work in nihilistic corporations, to whom the news is a non-ideological commodity, to be sold the same way we hawk cheeseburgers or Marlboro Lights,” argued Taibbi in a July 22 article. “Wars, scandals and racial conflicts sell, while poverty and inequality do not. So reporters chase one and not the other. It's just business.”
In a few months, Barack Obama will become the fifth post-World War II president to serve two full terms. The Washington Monthly’s Martin Longman thinks Obama tops the other four in terms of “popularity and moral credibility,” as indicated not only by the positive reception Obama got for his Wednesday-night DNC speech boosting Hillary Clinton, but by the public’s curiosity beforehand about what he’d have to say. In a Thursday post, Longman contrasted Obama with the other two-termers at their last convention as POTUS.
They’re calling it the feel-good romantic hit of the summer, or at least of the Democratic convention. Bill Clinton’s long, granular tribute to Hillary Rodham Clinton had several liberal pundits swooning. Dahlia Lithwick of Slate wrote that it was during this speech that “for the first time…most of us met” Hillary, whom “we have all been following and misunderstanding and cartooning for decades now.” Rebecca Traister of New York magazine gave Bill big props for reminiscing about how Hillary turned him on: "One of the roadblocks for women is objectification and sexualization, but when it comes to Hillary Clinton, whose ambition and brains have long rendered her bloodless in the American imagination, hearing her described as an object of desire could feel corrective and bizarrely just. So he did it."
One of NewsBusters’ most prominent readers, Rush Limbaugh, gave us a shout-out Monday during his radio program as he reflected on his success and longevity (next Monday, The Rush Limbaugh Show marks its 28th anniversary in national syndication). Limbaugh discussed a Sunday NB post which centered on a Washington Monthly blogger’s allegations that he has left a “sick stain” and a “loathsome legacy,” and that he has “removed all traces of logic, reason, decency, civility and compassion from the party of Abraham Lincoln.” In citing our post, Rush called NewsBusters “one of our favorite websites…part of the show prep” before commenting on the origins of his show as well as on blogger D. R. Tucker’s invective.
Paul Krugman claimed recently that the Republican party “went over the edge…when supply-side economics became [its] official doctrine.” The Washington Monthly’s D.R. Tucker reveres Krugman, but he has a different choice for “the moment when the GOP truly lost it”: August 1, 1988, when Rush Limbaugh’s radio show went national. Tucker argued that Limbaugh has "removed all traces of logic, reason, decency, civility and compassion from the party of Abraham Lincoln."
By the sheer size of his audience, many millions of Americans have disagreed, answering "Yes" to Time magazine's question on the cover in 1995: "Is Rush Limbaugh Good for America?" Of course liberals say no.
The debate rages on as to whether Donald Trump has remodeled or vandalized the Republican party. In any event, left-wing pundits spent the week gaping at, and writing about, what they viewed as the grotesque spectacle of the RNC. For example, Daily Kos’s Hunter opined that the convention was "was barely one step up from an internet-peddled snuff film,” and Salon’s Heather Digby Parton declared that “all that’s left of the ‘three-legged stool’ of conservatism is the seat — racism, nativism and xenophobia.”
President Obama isn’t making relations between black and white Americans worse. Reality is making them worse, contends Bouie, who wrote in a July 15, 2016 piece that “black Americans—and Americans writ large—are reacting to facts on the ground, killings, and other incidents that put racial inequality into stark relief.” Bouie claimed that on racial matters, Obama has consistently urged “reconciliation and unity,” and that beliefs to the contrary are “nonsense” resulting from “a deliberate miscasting of Obama’s rhetoric.”