Liberal Pundit: Conservative Media Based On a ‘Cartoonish Caricature’ of Liberalism

August 21st, 2016 1:54 PM

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. In a Tuesday post, Marshall asserted that in the 1960s, “the national or elite media [were] never ‘liberal,’” but he did admit they were “imbued with elite and cosmopolitan assumptions about American society that Movement Conservatives felt tipped the playing field of the national debate against them. And to a limited degree, [conservatives] were right.”

For example, wrote Marshall, “national media coverage generally turned against the Vietnam War. National media coverage generally saw the expansion of rights under the Warren Court as part of a forward progression rather than an unfolding disaster, as it was and is seen on the right. Getting rid of the death penalty was a good thing, part of an obvious societal evolution, not a bad thing.”

And the media weren't the only East Coast institution that stuck in the craw of the right: “Conservatives saw something similar when they looked at Washington. The dominant post-war 'think tank’…was The Brookings Institution. Brookings wasn't liberal in a deep sense, certainly not left-wing. But it generally operated on assumptions more in line [with] the post-war American consensus.”

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 (bolding added):

The Heritage Foundation [was] funded by rightwing money and deeply wired into the conservative and Republican establishment. It was an ideological, party organization in a way Brookings simply never was.

If you look at [60 Minutes] in its glory days you could definitely see where the ideas of its top correspondents were more identifiably 'liberal' than 'conservative.' But was CBS News of the 1950s and 1960s 'liberal'? A bit but not really…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. Fox functions as a political organization, with agitprop and propaganda tightly aligned with the interests of the Republican party…

…When [conservatives] set about creating their own 'counter-establishment,' they built it not only with some measure of bad faith but much more on the basis of a cartoonish caricature of institutions whose values, modes of operations and essence they really never understood.