CHURLS IN CHARGE (PART 3)! Why do "TV liberals" argue so poorly? Perhaps they aren't "liberals" at all! // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, JUNE 2, 2005
JEST A-PICKIN AND A-CHOOSIN: Tuesday night, Fox News seemed to show its true colors. On CNN and MSNBC—on all the evening network news show—the naming of Mark Felt as Deep Throat was the crowning news story. But not so on the Fox News Channel! Special Report gave the topic normal coverage—lead news story, half a segment during panel. But at 8 PM Eastern, Mr. O hit the air—and Deep Throat went back into the closet. Here were The OReilly Factors topics for the evening of May 31:
Talking Points Memo: The American Civil Liberties Union is the most dangerous organization in the country.Let the others treat Deep Throat as news; Mr. O had larger fish to fry. And then, when he threw to Sean and Alan, they disappeared Mark Felt too:
Segment 1: Amnesty International is comparing the treatment of terrorists at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to the treatment of prisoners in the Soviet gulags.We dont think Fox ever made it so clear—there are certain stories it just wont discuss, no matter how large the news value. Indeed, we thought we heard Fox addressing its viewers on these Tuesday night shows. Cant you just hear them? Hey, rubes!
THOSE HIGH-CLASS COMMUNITY STANDARDS: Lets be fair. With Fox, you may not hear all the actual news, but at least you get those family values. Heres the end of Segment 2 on Hannity & Colmes—the segment about Senator Clinton. Dick Morris was the shows classy guest:
COLMES (5/31/05): Coming up next, would you let your child read about oral sex parties? You won't believe what's in this book that's being marketed to teenagers.You may not get all the news on the channel. But at least you wont get hit with the tastelessness so typical of other nets secular humanists.
REPORTED IN AN EXCESS OF FAIRNESS: Last night, Mr. O devoted his Talking Points Memo and his lead segment to the Deep Throat story (sole guest, former presidents man Chuck Colson). On H&C, all remained silent. In two nights, Fox viewers have seen these two shows devote one segment (total) to this story.
PART 3—CAPITOL FOPS: So far, nothing weve said speaks directly to Kevin Drums excellent question. Why are conservatives just livelier and more interesting on TV than liberals are? the puzzled Drum asked last week. [I]t goes directly to the core of recent liberal weakness at shaping public debate (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/31/05). Daniel Okrent may be a Manhattan High Fop—simply suffused with those high foppist values—but no, he isnt a TV liberal. So nothing weve said about Okrents ways speaks directly to Drums vital question. Why do TV liberals argue so poorly? So far, we simply cant say.
But land-o-goshen! Daniel Okrents foppist ways are also the way of the world in DC, where millionaire journalists shape the debate—and go on TV pimped as liberals. Why do such liberals argue so poorly? Perhaps for the most obvious reason—perhaps because they arent liberals at all! After all, Okrent kept saying that he was a Dem, but hes the kind of fiery Dem you may not meet in less foppish climes—the kind of Dem with a strange affinity for fever dreams of the kooky-con right, the kind of Dem who couldnt wait to slime our leading center-left pundit. So too, millionaire TV liberals may say that theyre liberals, but that doesnt mean its necessarily so. In most cases, they show no sign of being such. Are these dandies really liberals? Or do they play libs on TV?
Consider the example of Margaret Carlson, a Washington fixture who appears on Capital Gang, introduced there each week as a liberal. But is Margaret Carlson really a liberal—or is she really a millionaire fop? Were sure that Carlson is a very nice person, but shes a nice person of a high foppist caste, as she revealed in her week-long diary for Slate in May 2003 (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/12/03). How does a Washington TV liberal actually spend the bulk of her time? Carlson really showed us that week; as we noted at the time, on a week when she spent large chunks of time traveling around to promote her new book, Carlson filled the rest of her days with leisurely luncheons, home renovations, and tons of inane, idle chatter. Result? When she finally got around to discussing some issues in her Slate entries, she was instantly making factual errors and tossing off obvious RNC spin-points. Whatever one wants to think about this, its hard to see why youd want to say that Carlson is a Washington liberal. Were sure that Carlsons a very nice person. But theres little sign that she has any politics, and thats true of most of the manifest fops who comprise our DC press elite.
Indeed, how do the honchos of the Washington press corps actually live their dandified lives? Okrent spends the bulk of his time chasing down fresh rhino hearts and puzzling hard about Walt Dropos drop-off—and then, for some reason, he thinks hes equipped to battle the likes of Paul Krugman. But so too with the foppish folks who star each night in our Washington press corps. How do they actually spend their time? Lets recall some recent samples of their inspiring ways:
Item—May 12, 2004: Jim Lehrer tells Chris Matthews that we [journalists] werent smart enough to anticipate the problems of occupation in Iraq (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/17/04). But he also reveals that hes found the time to finish writing two more novels, and Matthews gushingly praises his guest for maintaining such a brilliant lifestyle. Speaking of Lehrers endless production of novels, Matthews says, I dont know how you do it, Jim, because you are very active socially. Oh? Could that brilliantly foppish life-style explain Lehrers inability to anticipate the obvious about post-war Iraq? Matthews, a member of the same foppish class, seemed to know that he mustnt ask.Youre right—none of these people are TV liberals, the people Drum was asking about. But cant you see how this cohorts ways raise a question about their colleagues—the ones who do get sent on TV to present as TV liberals? As weve shown you again and again—were not quite sure how Drum keeps missing it—the movers and shakers of the Washington press are deep in the throes of Millionaire Pundit Values, and we know of no reason to think that those ballyhooed TV liberals are actually liberals at all. Theres nothing wrong with not being a liberal—the substantial majority of Americans arent—but when TV liberals perform so poorly, we might consider the obvious explanation; we might consider the possibility that these people arent liberals at all! Indeed, Carlson, who is a TV liberal, gave us a deathless look at their values when she did Imus in October 2000 (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/4/03). The question: Why were journalists savaging Gore over trivial, alleged misstatements and ignoring Bushs much larger, more significant whoppers? The following explanation came live-and-direct from a well-known TV liberal. Well concede that Carlsons a very nice gal. But do you think that shes really a liberal?
CARLSON (10/10/00): Gores fabrications may be inconsequentialI mean, theyre about his life. Bushs fabrications are about our life, and what hes going to do. Bushs should matter more but they dont, because Gores we can disprove right here and now You can actually disprove some of what Bush is saying if you really get in the weeds and get out your calculator or you look at his record in Texas. But its really easy, and its fun, to disprove Gore.Its really easy, and its fun, to disprove Gore! Does that sound like the view of a liberal—or does it sound like an expression of the Washington press corps who-gives-a-sh*t, High Foppist Values? As she continued, Carlson continued exposing her cohorts foppist ways:
CARLSON: I actually happen to know people who need government and so they would care more about the programs, and less about the things we kind of make fun of But as sport, and as our enterprise, Gore coming up with another whopper is greatly entertaining to us. And we can disprove it in a way we cant disprove these other things.Is Carlson a liberal? I actually happen to know people who need government, she said—implying that many members of her millionaire cohort do not. But she hardly responded as a liberal, progressive, or Dem might do. As sport, she told Imus, Gore coming up with another whopper is greatly entertaining to us. Five years later, Drum still cant imagine why this TV liberal doesnt argue her case all that well. Readers, sometimes we wonder why we bother informing the public at all!
Up in Manhattan, a High Foppist Prince made a fool of himself in the New York Times this past week. But Washington is also spilling over with a foppist millionaire pundit class. They spend their time writing novels—and writing pointless TV scripts. They spend their time renovating their kitchens—or crawling through their neighbors McBasements. They love to show off their hot muscle cars—to the major figures they cover. Do they sound like liberals—or fops? To our ear, the choice is quite easy.
Why do TV liberals argue so poorly? Most of them arent liberals at all! Indeed, those foppist values are so engrained in the culture of the Washington press corps that even our fiery young liberal career writers seem to know what they cant say.
TOMORROW—PART 4: Maybe Drum should take a look at the liberals right there at the Monthly!