Monday, November 13, 2006

Liberal Media? Not So Much

When the Newt Gingrich bunch rode into town back in 1994, proclaiming their conservative contract with America, and took over the place, Time magazine ran this cover:

In 2006, the Dems have ridden back into town with a victory fueled in part by traditional liberal values such as getting out of an unjust and misguided war, fair wages, medical care for all Americans (but especially kids), and protecting the right to choose. So this is the cover Time runs:

So why do they want to portray the Democratic victory as a centrist victory? Yes, some of the Dems who won are conservative, but it seems that the media (led in part by GOP talking points) have chosen to represent the whole election as a move toward the center rather than the resurgence of the left.

Case in point, Newsweek:
This is how Newsweek reads the mid-term election outcome, which they contend supports the "centrist" politics of George Bush (41) rather than the neoconservative policies of George Bush (43):
The American people, as politicians like to say, spoke last week - and spoke in no uncertain terms. The 2006 vote does not suggest an eagerness for a sharp left turn. It seems, rather, to be a plea for a shift from the hard right of the neoconservatives to the center represented by the old man in Houston [President George H. W. Bush].
We're supposed to ignore the fact that GW41 publicly supported his boy's war in Iraq. And we're supposed to have forgotten that the only time GB41 was ever a centrist was when he was running against Reagan back in 1979 and 1980. Once he became Vice President, he moved far to the right to ride the coattails of Reagan into his first term as President. When he ran against Clinton, he maintained that far-right approach by having GB43 rally the Christian vote, which is when Karl Rove decided to make GB43 Governor of Texas. Nice bit of revisionist history on their part.

Although you have to admit that, by comparison, GB41 does seem pretty centrist compared to his son, GB43.

The media is often accused of being liberal (mostly by those on the far right), while many of us on the progressive front see the media as disconcertingly conservative. The reality is that they often occupy an uneasy middle ground, accept when they adopt the talking points of one side or the other. For the past several years, those talking points have come mostly from the right.

It'll be interesting to see if that changes now that the Dems are coming back into power, or if the media will continue to take their lead from the White House and the RNC.

NOTE: This post relied on articles from Media Matters for America and Think Progress.


Tom said...

The difference is that the Republicans came in with their Contract for America. The Democrats did not foster a specific program of reform. While the great majority of anti-war folks were Democrats, a great many Democrats were primarily pissed about how the war was conducted. Plus, there were Republicans that are angry about the war, including Tucker Carlson and all those neocons who have pieces in the January Vogue.

Time magazine DID run a rearend of an elephant on its cover BEFORE the election. This was helpful.

Plus, I think it is true that not many progressives were elected. This is due in large part because the dccc vetted and selected candidates that were middle-of-the-road -- including Brown [who is still mighty liberal] while ejecting Hackett as the Dem senate candidate in Ohio; Webb in VA; Ford in TN; Casey in PA.

So, the situation IS different, in my estimation.

Also, my recollection is that GHWB was always SEEN as a relative centrist in the Republican party, even as he catered to the whacky right. Plus, his cabinet and advisers were more centrist and most remain more centrist than the GWB43 cabinet -- though, of course, Cheney and Rumsfeld have move to the nutjob right.

I don't see things as been reported unfairly -- but then I have been influenced by the media!!

tikkunger said...

Looking at this post as a Canadian who has been visiting in LA for the last month and thus had a ringside seat for the midterms, I feel I can safely say you have no left in your country. You really only have Right and Right Lite, ok Centre (Canadian spelling) with a hint left. I am not suggesting this is bad just that if you look at other countries especially those using a parliamentary system you will see what Left actually looks like. So basically I think the Times stuff is about right.

Anyhow thanks for yet an other interesting post.