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Hullabaloo


Friday, January 27, 2006

 
Mau-mauing the Media

by digby

Jane points me to this wildly enjoyable recounting of a close encounter between the barbarian bloggers and the Beltway Quilting Bee and Ladies Circle Jerk Society, also known as the DC press corps. My goodness, it sounds as if somebody got up on the wrong side of the fainting couch that morning.

I've been writing a lot lately about how the mainstream media internalize the criticisms of their right wing critics. I suspect they are always subconsciously seeking ways to prove that they aren't actually liberal --- and the more liberals in general are demonized, the more they want to distance themselves from us.

I've also been trying to show how it looks from our side: years of relentless violent eliminationist right wing rhetoric toward liberals goes unnoticed or unremarked upon and yet a few hundred hostile e-mails to the Washington Post ombudsman turns the whole town into a tizzy. The liberal blogosphere is thus turned into a rampaging vulgarian force while the relentless cacophany of wealthy right wing gasbags continues to go out to tens of millions of people unabated, undisturbed and unnoticed by the media cognoscenti.

How can that be, we wonder? Why, after all these years of being called every name in the book by the conservatives, can the "so-called liberal media" be upset when the liberals use very mild tactics in comparison to what has been happening on the right?

Perhaps this is why:








It is another right wing meme that has been absorbed by the mainstream media.

Here's Michelle:

From the Inside Flap
Un·hinged

adj : affected with madness or insanity; [syn: brainsick, crazy, demented, distracted, disturbed, mad, sick, unbalanced]

- The American Heritage Dictionary

*** Warning: Unhinged liberals are hazardous to the nation’s health.

They’re slashing your tires. Burning your lawns. Heaving pies at Republican pundits. Hurling racist epithets at minority conservatives. Nursing nutty conspiracy theories. And pining publicly for the murder of President Bush.

And they call us crazy?

In Unhinged: Liberals Gone Wild, Michelle Malkin plays conservative Margaret Mead to the alien political creatures of the American Left. With uproarious detail and rollicking reportage, Malkin chronicles the bizarre world of leftists gone mad in their natural habitats: the mainstream media, academia, Hollywood, and Washington.

Unhinged unmasks liberals who’ve completely abandoned rationality and reality. They’re taking chainsaws and bayonets to campaign signs. Running down political opponents with their cars. Setting fire to political opponents in effigy. Defacing war memorials. Swiping yellow ribbons off cars. And supporting the fragging of American troops.


Michele didn't come up with this on her own. It's a consciously applied meme for specific purposes. All these books allegedly about liberals called "Slander" "Treason" and "Unhinged" would have been written no matter what we did. It's how they control the mainstream media. After all, they've been calling the media liberal for more than a quarter century. They're talking about them as much as they are talking about us. And reporters don't like that. They have to live in that town.

Now we can deal with this two ways. We can be quiet and respectful and try to prove to the mainstream media that we aren't the crazed, violent freaks that Michelle says we are.

Dear Ms. Howell,

Would you be so kind as to check your facts regarding the Abramoff scandal.I think you are mistaken. I do not believe that Mr Abramoff personally gave any contributions to Democrats. Indeed, the evidence suggests that he was part of a long running Republican plan to create a political machine that exclusively funneled money from business to elected Republicans and back again.


I would very much appreciate anything you can do to clear this up. Thanks ever so much for all your hard work.

sincerely,

a nice liberal


meanwhile:


Deb,

I received a call today from Karl Rove on double secret-super-duper-deep backround. He was hopping mad. He says this Abramoff thing is a bi-partisan scandal and we're going to be embarrassed when it comes out that certain Democrats are the dirtiest Abramoff guys in town. I told him I'd look into it and get back to him.

I'm not suggesting you change your reporting. You are the ombudsman, after all. Just make extra sure you have all the facts and tell both sides of the story. The White House is riding my ass big time.


Len Downie

See you later at Sally and Ben's picnic. I hear Lynn Cheney's bringing her famous chili and Russert's going to sing.


And then there's this:

"Liberals can't just come out and say they want to take our money, kill babies and discriminate on the basis of race."


That's how it becomes "he said/she said" and "stay tuned" and why the words "crazy liberal" just rolls off their lips. The right has mau-maued the press by going aggressively in their face with everything they've got every time they write a word that can cause them trouble. And back in the day, they carefully fed the press the kind of tabloid scandal stories that made good copy and caused ratings to rise. They work this stuff from all angles.

We can be nice liberals and continue that highly successful strategy (for them) or we, the great unwashed blogosphere, can mau-mau the media into being accountable for what they write. It isn't pretty --- they are calling us nasty names and everything. But for the first time in memory we actually have a vehicle for pushing back from the other side and we literally represent millions of people who are willing to take the time to join the fight. That's powerful juju.

Over time, they will see that we are actually giving them an excuse to lean the other way. When Karl calls up Len, he can say that liberals are on the rampage --- what does he want him to do, ignore his own readers? We liberal bloggers and readers can produce some ballast on the other side so that the press has a way to resist the wingnuts.

This is a huge change and everyone involved is going to resist. Tonight they were talking about the "angry left on both coasts" on Lehrer, as if we aren't real Americans again. That's nonsense, as we know. My traffic comes from all over the country, much of it deep in the heart of Red America. They don't know what they are dealing with.



Update: Jim VandeHei has written an interesting piece in the Post today about how we barbarians fit into the Democratic infrastructure. (Short answer: they don't know what to think about us. They love our money and they need our energy. They just don't like it that we have dug in our heels and refuse to move any further to the right. It means they have to rethink their whole strategy.)

And I think this is largely correct:


The closest historic parallel would be the talk-radio phenomenon of the early 1980s, when conservatives -- like liberals now -- felt powerless and certain they did not have a way to voice their views because the mainstream media and many of their own leaders considered them out of touch. Through talk radio, often aired in rural parts of the country on the AM dial, conservatives pushed the party to the right on social issues and tax cuts.

The question Democrats will debate over the next few years is whether the prevailing views of liberal activists on the war, the role of religion in politics and budget policies will help or hinder efforts to recapture the presidency and Congress.


We can't do any worse, now can we?


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