Stephen Spruiell at NRO's Media Blog rightly whacks Slate's John Dickerson -- formerly a White House reporter for Time magazine and the son of pioneering network TV reporter Nancy Dickerson -- for his assertion Monday that liberal bloggers merely want the press to improve, but conservatives can't stand that the press exists, that they want them.....dead?
One of the healthiest things about the left-wing blogosphere is its confrontational dislike of the mainstream media. There's a distinction here with the media's critics on the right. At some level, the right doesn't much like that the press exists. They don't want to fix it, they want to drive a stake through its heart. The left, on the other hand, just wishes the establishment press would do a better job.
Spruiell calls this "folderol." I'd be stronger. I think it shows hatred, the kind a liberal reporter works up for the Enemy. You might at least expect a reporter to find a quote from a conservative media critic expressing his or her desire to stab the media to death.
Or are they such drama queens that our demands for fairness would make them doff mopey black T-shirts proclaiming "Fairness = Death"? The self-congratulation here is truly nauseating. Liberals are the reformers that make the world anew in their compassionate image. Conservatives are not merely bloodthirsty, but completely intolerant, authoritarian, anti-democratic....when we're only anti-Democratic, capital D.
Take a step back, and read the whole article, and what you see is the liberal media elite applauding itself. Dickerson is applauding the "snotty arrogance" of Markos "Kos" Moulitsas, and hoping he doesn't go changing because the liberal media elite has just clamored around his little Las Vegas convention: "can the bloggers remain jerks to the press, when the press is busy swooning over them? "
You can almost hear the Billy Joel lyric (if you're old enough): "Don't go changing, to try and please me...you've never let me down before."
Funny, I can't remember liberal reporters ever hoping conservatives would "remain jerks to the press," but then the press has never been busy swooning over them. This is what Dickerson is telegraphing to the reader: liberal reporters want media criticism from the left, want their editors and bosses to face more pressure from the left to go harder against the right. They're cheerleading the left. Notice Dickerson, like everyone else in the LME, has difficulty not noticing Moulitsas saying "screw them" after the death of American contractors in Iraq, and other embarrassing gaffes. He doesn't want Kos to change a hair for him.
It can seem quite obvious to liberals who enjoy a stacked media deck to see conservative media criticism as a political ploy -- "working the refs," as former RNC chair Rich Bond put it. But we utterly reject the idea that the national media can be trusted to act as a referee, when they clearly see themselves as players, not refs.
It is clear that conservatives would face a less hostile political environment from a media that didn't see the "news" product as an opportunity for thinly disguised liberal talking points and stalking horses -- like the Breitweisers and Sheehans, as we've just discussed. It is clear that demanding fairness to both sides of the political debate -- idealistic in its sound -- can make conservative victories easier.
But conservative media criticism isn't just a ploy or a schtick or a cynical fundraising racket. It, too, demands the media do a better job -- more fairness, more balance, more accuracy, more justice. We reject the reign of the media as a liberal bully that beats up conservatives for their tax money.
We believe in a vibrant democracy, with a free press, and part of that free press is a vibrant conservative media movement bringing our notions of truth and justice and the American Way to the public square and demanding some air time. It should not be said by any responsible citizen that we are out to kill the press. It can be said we are out to drive up the liberal media's "negatives" -- to mock the idea, loaded with evidence, that the media are "objective" or "nonpartisan" or "mainstream." They do not deserve the unquestioned authority they wish they still had, when liberally biased Walter Cronkite was said to be the most trusted man in America.
The media do nothing but build distrust of most of our national institutions. How dare they act livid and draw nasty stick-figure cartoons of us when we question whether the country should trust them to act as an arrogant, unelected branch of government.