But it was more than just Obama's charisma that handed him the youth vote in 2008. He was abetted by lapdogs in the press, reliably liberal pop-culture icons, and ultra-leftists in academia. Combined, they created a bloc of "Obama Zombies," writes Jason Mattera, author of a new book by that name.
Mattera was kind enough to give NewsBusters an interview. He described some of the themes of his book, including the incessantly liberal mainstream press -- "pre-pubescent little girls at a Jonas Brothers concert" is how he described the Obamaniacs in the press corps. NB's Steve Gutowski noted the book's tremendous assessment of media bias in his review yesterday.
"Obama Zombies" is the perfect primer for all conservatives worried about the movement's past troubles and hopefully brighter future with newly minted voters. Read the transcript of the interview below, or listen to the audio file here.
NEWSBUSTERS: I just wanted to start out asking you about something that Mediaite's Tommy Christopher said today. I think you've heard it, I thought I saw something on your Twitter feed. But just for our readers' sake, he said, "Aside from [Mattera's] ardent fans, I think most people will find his attack on funding for playgrounds pretty hollow, and his attack on breastfeeding just bizarre," obviously referring to your interview with Al Franken. He goes on to say, to compare you to ACORN scourge James O'Keefe, and says "Rather than search for the truth, both Mattera and O’Keefe seek to create truth. As entertainment, their value is open for debate. As journalism? Not so much." So I just thought I'd give you a chance to respond to that.
MATTERA: Tommy Christopher's a joke. Nobody reads him. It's probably him and his two moms. That's about it.
NB: Okay. Great. Moving on, that's kind of a perfect segue into your style of interviewing, and you've had some great bits recently with Steny Hoyer, asking him about having tax cheats write and enforce the ObamaCare bill, a good one with Bob Gibbs. So does that sort of style of interviewing, was that something that -- because I know you were very active with the college Republicans when you were in school -- was that something that started early in your career as a journalist?
MATTERA: You know, actively, or aggressively beating down liberal ideas and advancing conservative ideas did start on the college campus when I was in school. And that's just because political correctness is so sick, as any conservative will tell you. You have a liberal idea that you're just bombarded with. Conservative ideas are only given a forum when it's the students that take the initiative. So yeah, you've got to be aggressive in promoting it. So, the videography was just a natural fit.
For instance, we know it's nothing new, we have lapdogs in the mainstream media, who would rather cozy up to the cool campaign. They act like they are pre-pubescent little girls at a Jonas Brothers concert every time they're in a room with Obama or one of his minions. So therefore it's up to people like people, to people like you, the great sites that are out there, including NewsBusters, to keep the media accountable.
If Robert Gibbs is not going to be -- if Robert Gibbs is going to dodge question after question, or the media's just going to give him a pass. Same thing with Charlie Rangel. I mean, my goodness. Charlie Rangel. The fact that he is still a member of congress and has not resigned is a scandal of itself. Here's a man who has -- it seems every month there is a new ethics probe against him. And nothing. I mean, we know, if we just have a thought experiment, if there was an R next to his name, we'd see story after story.
Now, this translates into Obama Zombies in the fact that young people just are not up to speed about the activist nature of the media. So that's why people like me, people like you, will have to confront members of the media and expose their own corruption, their own fawning coverage, and in the process, expose political corruption. And hopefully young people not be -- will get rid of the zombie target that is on their foreheads, and realize that there is no such thing as objectivity any more. The mainstream media has declared war on conservatism, and is going to provide a base of support for liberal candidates.
NB: Well that has certainly become evident. You've also taken a more active approach to exposing the "Zombie" nature of so many young Obama supporters, well even before Obama. Before they were "Obama Zombies" they were still, I don't know, liberal zombies maybe. And I thought you could say a few words about the "Whites Only Scholarship."
MATTERA: Sure. It was a parody of racial preferences on the college campus, and liberals -- what's interesting is my university used to have an all student-wide email saying they have compiled a list of scholarships for students of color only, and I was on the email list because I'm Puerto Rican. I showed it to one of my buddies who was not on the list, he was Irish. He was just fuming mad, because he thought the university -- it was accurate -- the university was balkanizing people on the basis of their race, and he worked hard for his grades and why can't he have the same assistance?
So we said, let's parody the idea, let's have a scholarship just for white kids. We'll call it a "Students of Non-Color Scholarship," a caucasian scholarship. And it aint going to be big. It was something like 300 bucks. It maybe gets you a textbook on campus. But it was not for monetary reward. We knew the left would go ape, and once they did go ape, they would expose their own hypocrisy.
Was it offensive? Was it divisive? Absolutely. That was the point. Dividing people on the basis of race and having racial quotas and racial preferences not only is a slap to minorities, because it treats them as inferior like they need help and a handout from the white man, but it also balkanizes people and doesn't treat them equal on the college campus. So naturally, the reaction was crazy from the left on campus, they exposed their own hypocrisy. But there was a lot of good that came out from it. Most students were -- while the administration went bonkers, most students agreed with the message of the initiative. And that is, the university should go out of their way to focus on students who need it financially, regardless of race, and I think that's something we can all agree on.
NB: And you seem -- in the book, you're very confident that once the conservative message is presented to students in a truthful way -- you say, "Since young people never hear conservative ideas, those ideas by definition sound fresh, rebellious, and provocative: all the things that interest young and hungry minds." Is that something that you experienced personally, in either your experience at school, or friends, or people that you knew?
MATTERA: Yes. When I was on my campus, we would bring conservative speakers -- Ann Coulter, David Horowitz, Tammy Bruce, a lot of others -- and every single time we had so many students who came up to the speaker, or came up to us after and were like, "wow, I've never heard that perspective before. My thinking has been completely revitalized and changed."
That is because students are subjected to liberal nonsense. It's not just through the campus, it's intravenously given through MTV -- I mean, you become a liberal today through osmosis. It just hits you in every single area. And young people, unfortunately, don't have the critical thinking skills, because they're just not paying attention to the classics anymore, because they're not being taught on the college campus, again so they have that zombie target on their forehead. They're more interested in thinking Barack Obama is going to cause iPods to fall from the sky and melt away their student loans forever. And they're like "oh sweet bro that's great my student loans are going to be taken care of by Barack."
So when they hear actual truth -- remember, liberalism's greatest threats are evidence, logic, thinking -- and if we present it in a fun way, if we have bedrock conservative principles, but with smart messaging, I think we could awaken our generation of Obama Zombies. It's not going to happen overnight, but if we don't start having a conservative youth outreach effort, than not only will we lose elections -- that's minor. We will lose a generation of young people who are not versed in the notion of freedom and liberty and that is more scary than losing one election.
NB: And you mention that in the book. You say Republicans are getting older, Democrats are getting younger, and the candidacy of John McCain certainly didn't help it in your mind.
MATTERA: Oh it was awful.
NB: Now, at CPAC we saw an interesting trend, where there were a lot of young attendees obviously, and the straw poll seemed to be the talk of the day, how Ron Paul came away with 30-something percent, far and away the number one presidential candidate according to the straw poll. So do you see a more libertarian trend among young conservatives, or is Mike Huckabee correct?
MATTERA: You know, it's hard to gauge that because Ron Paul's supporters are a small bunch but they're very vocal, and I give him credit for that. Now what Paul has tapped into is, he speaks with -- I think he's a nut on foreign policy, but when he speaks to the side of the growth of government entitlement spending, he's right on. And he's not afraid to speak his mind on those issues. He's not a politician giving political speeches, he's giving just what he considers truth, and he doesn't hold back. So I think that is why many young people are attracted to him, because he doesn't hold back in his analysis.
I would hope, I do hope, that a lot of people aren't attracted to Ron Paul. I don't think so. I think a very small segment, again a vocal segment, but a small segment. I mean we can even go back to the primary debates where Drudge would have those links up, who would win, and Ron Paul would always come out the victor. And we all knew Ron Paul didn't win the debate. But again, it was his concentrated online lackeys who really boosted up his message. And that's good, I mean he's inspired people. You want that in a candidate. I'm just not sure there are -- which politician is going to inspire young people today. I'm not really thrilled by any of the leading candidates right now.
NB: So do you think that there's -- we also see an older demographic, for the most part, not all older people, but the Tea Party is made up, primarily, of not so many young voters. So do you think there's potential to get the youth involved in the Tea Party and that might translate into more Republican involvement from young people?
MATTERA: Well I think -- possibly. But let's look at what Barack Obama did during the election and I lay this out in my book in chapter 2, Will You Be My Facebook Friend. He set the standard of how you reach out to young people on social networking sites and with new media. I mean completely set the standard. He demolished John McCain in that area. Every single area related to new media, John McCain got walloped. By the end of the campaign, he had almost 30 percent of all young people saying that somebody from the Obama campaign contacted them, whether it was through Facebook, Twitter, or through their cell phones. That's a huge percent. Almost a third of young people say they were actually contacted directly by someone from the Obama campaign. Higher than any other age demographic.
So the rallies are great, but we have to have smart messaging, and relay why conservative principles are in the best interest of young people. And one of the things that I talk about in the book is something that's sort of far off. You know, to you and me, we're in the policy minutiae. We can see how ObamaCare is an infringement on freedom and all these other policies down the pipe that they're looking to institute. The average student -- that's who we're talking about, I'm not preaching to the choir, but winning new converts -- the average young person does not care about the health care debate. The average young person, if you ask them what Cap and Trade is, they have no idea. They don't know what Cap and Trade is. So that's where you have to bring it to a level they can understand.
So Cap and Trade comes up, just to use that as an example. There was a headline I put in my book from the Seattle Times that ran, it was late 2008, and the headline was "Charge an iPod, Kill a Polar Bear." That was the exact headline. And it just said that with the infusion of so much new technology, and it has increased over the years, that we are actually causing a polar meltdown to happen more quickly because we're consuming so much more energy, we're burning so much more carbon fuels, and therefore we need policies in place to regulate plasma TVs and other electronic devices including iPods.
Now you tell that to a young person, they would care about that. The left actually wants to institute policies to regulate your plasma TVs, to regulate your iPod. They actually want to have policies in place -- I mean, what is a carbon footprint? Energy production. Energy. That's your computer. They want to have policies in place that regulate your habits. Your online habits. I mean that's where young people can see I think why, whoa, talk about Big Brother, talk about nanny state, talk about someone looking over your shoulder. That is the left. I mean the left is all about top-down control, and we need to continue to get that message out there in ways that young people not just get, but can relate to. I mean that's what it has to be: relatable.
So redistribution of wealth? Obama and his socialist administration is all about that. We'll talk to young people about redistribution of GPAs. They think social justice is such a great idea, and that the people at the top deserve -- or that the people on the top, it's right and somehow fair to slash their income and give it to someone down below? Let's do the same thing with GPAs. You have a 4.0, a 3.5, you worked hard to get it, you may have gone to a good school and had good SAT prep, or whatever your circumstances are. Alright, that's unfair. Use the left's language. We're going to halve your GPA, and that kid at the very bottom who's struggling to get that C [unintelligible] D right now, we're going to make sure he passes, and we're going to redistribute your GPA to his and we're going to have a nice true egalitarian society. Well I'll tell you, young people go ape off that. They would balk at that.
Young people are innately conservative because they value and are consumers of services that big government can never provide. And that's why I really wanted to write Obama Zombies, to give a behind the scenes look into the tactics and strategies team Obama employed because they were very successful, and then talk about how these policies are torpedo-aimed at young people's financial futures.
NB: And with Obama Zombies -- and the right has actually had a lot of success in the book market lately, not that that really gets much press, and then it seems there's also the new media aspect which conservatives are really starting to pick up on, but from your book, I can't help but gather than until conservatives find some way to counter the really unbelievable influence that pop-culture icons have on young people's preferences and habits and political views, then -- you know, the news media only plays so big of a part, and sadly young people get a lot of their news from entertainment sources, like, as you point out, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
MATTERA: Yeah, no you're absolutely right. The ramification was -- it didn't take that much. I have a chapter on how the use of celebrities -- we know celebrities are always endorsing some left wing candidate. That's nothing new. But what team Obama did is juice up their support. So they turn their support into collecting text messages. They would have 80,000 people go hear Jay-Z, oh any by the way text your cell phone number to this specific code, and then the Obama administration would constantly keep up with people.
They would institute call stations throughout their rallies, and hand out scripts, and say "hey, you're at this call station, call this undecided person." It was peer pressure to help gin up support for Barack. Moreover, they would register these people to vote, and in some states, you can register to vote and vote on the same day. That's the key. So then they would bus them to the polls. And you have people who are going "oh wow Barack's hooking me up with Dave Matthews tickets. I'll vote for him!" It's unfortunate, but that's the level of the dumbed down culture we're dealing with.
So yes, conservatives are always going to have an uphill battle against Hollywood. That's nothing new. But if we -- so we have to realize our tactics -- but if we don't have a vibrant youth outreach to try to fight back, we just can't give up, and, you know, John McCain didn't have one, the GOP still doesn't have one, Barack Obama is always at a college to this day giving some campaign speech. Always has young people behind him. It's the cool campaign. They think "oh I'm hip, I'm down with Barack." But the opening is there for us to reach out to young people because they are the highest unemployed in this Obama economy, so we can -- it's the same thing that happened with Jimmy Carter: he won over the youth vote, the economy sucked, we were in a "malaise." Ronald Reagan came in without Fox News, without talk radio, without NewsBusters, without all of these sites we take for granted today, and he was still able to penetrate the youth vote. So, you know I'm optimistic, I hold on hope. THere are people like you and me who are out there trying to reach the next generation, but we do need the resources to do it.
NB: Okay, and real quick. Just last question. Who's your 2012 pick? Who do you think has the best chance of capturing that youth vote?
MATTERA: I have no idea. Honestly I have no idea. I am just, I'm not thrilled by any candidate right now, to be quite frank with you. It's just nobody, no one gets me motivated. I'm waiting to see who emerges, and I'll give everyone a fair shot. What we can't have is a repeat of John McCain. Someone like John McCain. We can't have someone who's going to try to play nicey nice with the left and play patty cake with them and not bring up the left's dirty laundry.
We need conservatives who are going to bring up the left's dirty laundry and say, "here, sniff this, Rahm Emanuel," to expose them and their corruption to the entire world, the entire country, and we need someone with a fighting attitude, someone who's a winner, someone who can articulate our message. I'm not implored by anyone right now, but I'm hoping. I'm hoping. We'll see what happens.