The pundits on our side (the conservative side) are outdoing each other, attempting to pin the tail on how the donkey resoundingly stomped all over the elephant these past two election cycles. They are missing the huge forest for the minor trees.
For every supposed Republican wrongdoing, there is a Democratic sin of equal or greater proportion. You say too far to the right, I say too far to the left. You say culture war doesn’t work, I say ballot measures prove otherwise. You say 27% approval of Bush, I say 9% approval of Pelosi and Reid. You say Duke Cunningham, I say William Jefferson. You say Jack Abramoff, I say Tony Rezko. You say Mark Foley, I say John Edwards and Tim Mahoney. You say Iraq war, I say Iraq war is an obvious success. You say Enron, I say Fannie & Freddie. You say bungled Katrina response, I say bungled Wall St. response. You say Karl Rove, I say David Axlerod. You say Sarah Palin, I say Barack Obama. Etc. etc.
So why did we lose? Why do we get hit, time and time again, while the Democrats emerge smelling like roses? Simple, the same reason the New York Giants would never win a game if they started off down 21-0. No matter how strong our ideas, how principled our leaders, how corrupt and incompetent our opponents, we will continue to lose (or eke out miserly, temporary wins) as long as we don’t figure out how to deal with the media.
Let me repeat myself; we lost in 2006 and this year BECAUSE OF THE MEDIA. Are we perfect? No. Did we stray from the conservative path? Absolutely. Do we need leadership? Definitely. But that is not why we lost and will continue to lose in the near future. I have no doubt that with all our flaws, were the media fair and balanced, the center-right makeup of this country would still be reflected in the makeup of our elected representatives in Washington DC. That it isn’t is a direct result of the media and the media alone. As touched on above, there is no fault attributed to us that cannot be thrown right back in the liberals/Democrats faces by a fair referee. But the media is not fair and has never been. Thus, the media creation known as Barack Obama was made possible directly on top of the the media-created foundation of a “ruined and disastrous” Bush presidency.
Rush Limbaugh is an amazing talent and the most influential conservative alive. But there is one area where he is gravely mistaken. The mainstream media, while shrinking in size and under financial siege, is not losing as much influence as he believes. That is because it still has a lock on two important media objectives: Access and Credibility.
Access: Professional conservative media types spend their time immersed in a sea of news/politics. While they realize the difference between junkies like themselves and your average Joe, they fail to grasp the enormity of that difference. Your average person is extremely busy and overworked. They spend their time trying to take care of themselves and their families, whatever time left over is used mainly for personal activities and R & R. Their interest in news is relegated to headlines and sound bites. Here is where the MSM really shines. Every time average Joe opens his Yahoo email, his Google homepage or MSN portal, he’s accosted by AP/Reuters news headlines, featuring the MSM message. He turns on his radio to listen to some music, traffic & weather, or even to Rush, he gets the headline news, often multiple times an hour. He’s watching his favorite comedy and the commercials feature snippets from the upcoming news program. So every American, from the most disinterested to the most conservative, is under the constant barrage of MSM/Democrat talking points. And as both Lenin and Geobbels have said, if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.
A case in point: Even conservatives, who honestly believe President Bush to be a decent man and a good president, will hesitate to say so in public for fear of being laughed out of the room. After all, “everybody knows”, he’s the worst president since Hoover, maybe of all time. This is the crux of the matter. The media has retained their ability to create the conventional wisdom, the “everybody knows” factor, which once created, assumes a life of its own. Marketing professionals would kill for a fraction of the access the MSM has in the lives of Americans on a daily basis.
So while many people are turning to alternative media sources, the media has not lost its ability to drum into our heads whatever it wants, nonstop, and as Evan Thomas once said, that power is worth at least 10-15% on Election Day.
Credibility: The rise of the alternative media has been phenomenal and explosive, but without one key component: credibility. Fair or not (not), the public still accepts everything the MSM peddles as true, while being naturally suspicious of information picked up over the internet, even if from reliable, established sources. It is enough to quote a MSM source to establish the bona fides of a story, while an alternative media report, heavily investigated and sourced, does not get its legs until being declared kosher by at least one MSM rabbi. This is an undeniable fact, as evidenced by the McCain campaign, which moments after ripping the NYT as “150% in the tank for Obama”, proceeded to quote the Times in an ad attacking him.
Access and credibility are a lethal combination when it comes to elections. Obama’s $600 million is chump change in comparison. Were elections about specific issues, conservatives would perpetually have the upper hand. Americans know what they want when asked specifically; Tuesday’s ballot initiatives prove that. Electing politicians and parties is much trickier. If the MSM can get away with saying left is right and blue is red day in and day out, out ability to get our message out is almost completely destroyed. We end up finding ourselves in an endless battle defending against the latest MSM Known Fact ™.
I for one, am tired of it. Not of the media, but rather of our side. I’m tired of conservative pundits and politicians who, while constantly complaining about media bias, refuse to do anything about it. They continue to go on the same shows, talk to the same reporters, smile at the camera while the MSM stabs them in the back. I’m tired of conservatives giving liberals a finger in the hopes of saving the hand, which never works. We’ll give them, Gingrich, Delay, Lott, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Estrada, Rogers-Brown etc. The result? A Reid & Pelosi congress. Okay, we’ll throw Bush & Cheney under the bus; let’s just focus on conservative issues. The direct result? President-elect Obama.
Liberals however, have no such constraints. Make their life a bit difficult and they’ll throw you off the plane, file lawsuits, ban stations and get personal. I don’t want to hear “we don’t want to sink to their level”. That’s utter nonsense; if the diamond is in the mud, you’re gonna have to get dirty to pick it up. I am more then willing to fight for the conservative cause, promote its ideals, elevate it leaders in a fair fight. But I will not participate in a rigged match. Every day I see lies, half-truths, distortions and bias directed at my side and my side alone. My blood pressure rises, my blood boils and it takes all I’ve got to prevent myself from screaming at the top of my lungs (that’s why Savage is so popular, he screams for you). I refuse to continue to put myself through this while the people who can do something about it sit on their hands. To paint like Picasso is a futile effort if your audience is wearing blinders. So Conservative Leaders, give me (and the many who feel the same as I do) a call when you have an effective media strategy. Until then I’ll engage in more productive endeavors such as playing minesweeper on my computer. At least that game is not rigged.