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Will the Real MSM Please Speak Up?

The neo-conservative cabal has gotten back into gear and mobilised its counter-attack, as evidenced by this report from ABC affiliate KGO:

This week Simi Valley California Gold Star wife Melanie House flew to Idaho for a protest and then flew to Crawford.

ABC7's Mark Matthews: "Can you tell us if you're getting help in airfare to come down here?"

Melanie House: "What difference does that make?"

There is real reluctance to talk about who's paying, and the P.R. machine that's promoting Cindy Sheehan, but not everyone here is completely comfortable with it.

Perhaps it's merely my own subjectivity talking, but it seems to me that there's a real reluctance to talk about who's paying for and calling the shots with the P.R. machine that's promoting the ends of the neo-conservative cabal. I can't recall many discussions in the MSM about who funds right-wing "popular efforts." In this piece, there's some token attention to balance, but only about four of the piece's twenty-nine paragraphs are devoted to considering who funds the Republican counter-efforts -- and those paragraphs are buried at the bottom of the pyramid.

Some outlets do try to play fair. NPR, for example, points out [listen] that the President's counter-campaign has been mobilised in states where he has a strong base of support, and in front of hand-picked ("reliably friendly, mostly-military") audiences. But then, much as the punditocracy would like us to believe otherwise, NPR is not part of any usefully-defined "main-stream". Unless, of course, someone wants to explain how they could be part of the mainstream and part of the fringe at the same time. (Hint: There's a way to do it. But it might require that you tread on some intellectually slippery ground.)

It's frightening enough that the Bush regime are willing to do this to shape public opinion; it's even scarier when you start to become convinced (as I did a long time ago) that our President believes that the hand-picked audiences represent a real cross-section of American views.

"I've met with a lot of families," the President has remarked. "She doesn't represent the views of a lot of families." (Which of course means that she still could represent the views of a lot of families, since "a lot" does not imply "a majority." But I digress.) Now, he could be speaking with painful literalness. Parse out the sentence: It literally states only that a lot of people don't agree with Cindy Sheehan. Big news. A lot of people don't agree with the manufacturer's contention that Marshmallow Fluff sandwiches are wholesome food and not candy. (They're called "good parents.")

I fear it's more sinister -- or at least, more frightening -- than that: George W. Bush does not expose himself to contrary opinions unless he's compelled to, and it's hard to compel the President of the United States to do anything.

But again, I digress. The point is this: People who believe in the existence of a leftist media bias really need to do two things: First, start listening, really listening, with an open mind, to the news; second, come to understand that "leftist" is not synonymous with "stuff I don't like."

Really, I suppose the second should come first. It's kind of a necessary step before you can understand that people on the left hate some of the same stuff that people on the right hate: Crime, lying politicians, moral turpitude, callous disregard for human life, just to be going on with. But since the rightist positions have been almost wholly co-opted by religionistic moralists (and this is nothing new, by the way), every message that people on the right get tends to come in black and white terms: You are with us or against us. You love Jesus, or you love child pornography. You back the President, or you hate America.

It's a simplistic portrayal, sure; but the people in charge of trying to drive that portrayal like it that way. It's easier to manipulate people if you have hot-button terms arranged into superficially simplistic (and thus, ambiguous) statements. That most people don't adhere to these positions when you really start to look at their positions, kind of testifies both to the effectiveness of the technique (after all, people act in great numbers to support these simplistic ideals) and to the stubbornness of human intellect (after all, people still don't believe it entirely, once you cut through the ambiguity to get to their actual opinions).

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