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Freddie

Freddie deBoer used to blog at lhote.blogspot.com, and may again someday. Now he blogs here.

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27 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Well, first off, you have to take into consideration that George Will was sitting in that chair when God pulled This Week With David Brinkley from the ether and nobody knows the rituals on how to get him out of it. He was a “moderate” who complained about Nixon’s corruption in the 70’s (and, to everybody’s surprise, complained about Bush) and merely hasn’t changed much since they found him in that chair. Moderate for 1970 is, like, crazy conservative today.

    So, that said, that looks like a 50/50 split, to me.

    On the right, Will, Noonan, Gillespie… on the left, Stephanopoulos, Reich, Brazile. Three for three.

    On the right the week before, Brooks, Will… and on the left, Stephanopoulos, Roberts, and Robertson (??? Might you instead mean Sam Donaldson?). That’s two against three! Not even 50/50!

    “Conservatives, your assignment: in 600 words or less, explain to me why a liberal media would continuously disadvantage itself over and over and over again on such shows.”

    Well, they’d probably play the game like this:
    We’ll have the former Communications director for Bill Clinton be the host of the show… but we’ll have him “play” moderator. This will pretty much allow us to say that he doesn’t count toward the balance of the show even though he’s the guy who sets up the terms of the debate that will happen. He’ll frame the questions in the first place (there’s a reason Clinton picked him, after all) and then sit back. The conservatives on the show (beltway conservatives, of course… certainly not “conservative leaders”… we mean, like, “conservative for Newsweek magazine” kinda conservative) will be the established faces of “the right”. They will form the outer boundary of “acceptably conservative”. The “liberals” will have the easy job of disagreeing with the “acceptably conservative” commentators. The framing of the questions will have the conservatives fighting uphill, the liberals will have the relatively easy job of disagreeing with what we’ve framed as the outer bound of acceptable conservativism, and, eventually, George Will will die. We can replace him with George Pataki and say that we’re replacing a Republican with a Republican and no one will be the wiser.

    That’s how I’d do it, anyway.Report

  2. Avatar Freddie says:

    Donaldson, yes. Fixed.

    George Will is pretty much the Ur-conservative, or the archetypal conservative, or the very picture of a conservative. FAIL, Jay.

    No, Cokie Roberts and Sam Donaldson are not liberal pundits, as you are well aware. They are journalists who might (might) be moderately liberal, which makes them effectively moderate in their fear of seeming liberal.

    ‘Stephanopolous, as you are well aware, is the moderator, does not weigh in substantively on his own, and in fact asks harder questions of liberals than conservatives because he’s afraid to be seen as liberal, which is terrible in the media, whereas being seen as conservative is right as rain.

    C- for effort, D for execution. But do keep trying.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Freddie says:

      “George Will is pretty much the Ur-conservative, or the archetypal conservative, or the very picture of a conservative.”

      Who would you say is more conservative? Hannity or Will? Beck or Will? Limbaugh or Will?

      (Please note: I don’t have a dog in the “conservative or liberal media!!!” fight… I think that the media is socially liberal (if not libertine) and corporatist in inclination. I’m giving these arguments as an intellectual exercise, not as a “These Things I Believe!!!!” kinda thing.)

      I can see serious arguments for Beck (or Hannity or Limbaugh) being more conservative than Will… but they’re well outside of acceptable discourse.

      Will is beltway. All the way. He is the “Ur-Conservative” insofar as he provides the outside bound of acceptable conservative opinion. To the Right of Will is “Crazytown” or, at least, people whom we can assume are not arguing in good faith and, as such, people that we can dismiss out of hand.

      And, when he dies, we can replace him with a new guy who will then become the new outside bound of conservativism. He’ll be to the left of Will, of course.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Freddie says:

      As for Sam Donaldson, my biggest memory of him was after the elections in 1994 and how he was describing the shift in balance in the House as “Americans collectively throwing a temper tantrum”. Will was talking about how, if you looked at the voting numbers, approximately (some really small number)% of the country voted differently than last time. Donaldson repeated his assertion that it was a “tantrum”.Report

  3. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Freddie – you’re writing off Jaybird too quickly – especially this:

    The conservatives on the show (beltway conservatives, of course… certainly not “conservative leaders”… we mean, like, “conservative for Newsweek magazine” kinda conservative) will be the established faces of “the right”. They will form the outer boundary of “acceptably conservative”.

    If you can set the terms than you run absolutely no risk of creating a disadvantage for yourself – and simply setting the terms of “acceptable conservatism” is a minor victory.

    Besides, it’s simply better television when people disagree with one another.Report

  4. Avatar Freddie says:

    If you can set the terms than you run absolutely no risk of creating a disadvantage for yourself – and simply setting the terms of “acceptable conservatism” is a minor victory.

    You’re taking at face value the thing to be proven, that the media is liberal. And I find complaining about boundaries of acceptability to be a funny tack for conservatives to take, as though you routinely see genuine reactionaries on television– like, say, Michelle Malkin– when you never, ever see genuine leftists on television, unless it’s yet another “let’s laugh at Michael Moore” segment. If there are boundaries concerning who is or isn’t acceptable, they are far more restrictive of how left you can go than on how right you can go.

    Besides, it’s simply better television when people disagree with one another.

    How is this an argument in favor of disproportional conservative representations on talk shows?Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Freddie says:

      The media is a mixed bag, to be sure. They’re not really “liberal” in a pure sense of the word. They’re driven by ratings, so they reflect their demographic to some degree. This often means a compilation of social liberalism and economic conservatism – watered down, of course. Unless you happen to be watching Fox (or lately MSNBC) which are both far more obviously partisan.

      So the question is whether these shows have individual liberal biases. Does The Week have any spin at all? I don’t know. I actually don’t watch it (not having a television in the house, my viewing is fairly limited to chance). Jon Stewart certainly seems to have a lot of conservatives on his show. He’s used that to his advantage to some degree.Report

      • Avatar Ryan in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        My usual position in these debates is that the media aren’t really liberal or conservative so much as they’re just incredibly stupid (or credulous, if you want to be nice). There is a defined space in which debate can happen – which itself isn’t really liberal or conservative, per se – and everything happens there. So you get a dynamic where everyone is pro-war and (nominally) anti-deficit and anti-earmarks and basically anti-union and pro-corporate and pro-free-trade and pro-gay-marriage and pro-abortion. There’s some deviation, but really not much. And, on top of all that, they usually ignore all of those issues (because they all agree anyway) in order to focus on whatever inane horserace crap they can come up with. Did Obama eat regular, Honey Nut, or Fruity Cheerios this morning, and what does that say about his patriotism?Report

      • Avatar Bob Cheeks in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        E.D. pleazzzz!
        The media is statist. Will, Noonan, et al are statist.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Freddie says:

      Besides, it’s simply better television when people disagree with one another.

      How is this an argument in favor of disproportional conservative representations on talk shows?

      Well – let’s assume that there are fewer conservatives than independents and liberals. To create a show where people disagree on fundamental issues and debate these issues, the show has to disproportionately include conservatives or some other even more fringe group like socialists or Dennis Kucinich. Other than Buchanan very few paleos are represented. Other than Moore very few real, radical leftists are represented. We get lots of middle-ground types – moderates on left and right. Somehow this makes for a good debate, though I think having more radicals from all sides would be better.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Freddie says:

      “You’re taking at face value the thing to be proven, that the media is liberal.”

      This was, I understand, the assignment.

      Did I misunderstand?Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Additionally, I’d wonder if, maybe, the show deliberately has people who disagree on it.

    I mean, it’s one thing to argue whether “cake is good”. Sure. Everyone knows cake is good. Now, “Cake or Pie?”… *THAT* will lead to fistfights.

    I’d wonder if things were set up in such a way that there are more “not the people in power” people on the show in any given week. Looking at the link, they start discussing “since 2006″…

    Hrm. I’d then wonder whether there was a power shift in 2006…Report

  6. Avatar alainL says:

    Peggy Noonan and George Will are civilized. They can be brought into the house and they won’t wreck the furniture. They are the type of conservative the liberals wish all conservatives were like. Let’s take Elizabeth Hasselbeck (the token conservative on the View). Why is she there? Because she is inarticulate and when she gets shouted down, she shuts up. The last thing the liberals want is for these shows to be a showcase for a take no prisoners conservative.Report

  7. A few things:

    1. As general matter, it is a more or less verifiable fact that most of your TV anchors and hosts and journalists personally lean slightly to the left on average. Socially liberal and economically corporatist is probably the fairest description. They are not died-in-the-wool liberals, though, by any stretch of the imagination.

    2. Most of the problem with (1) isn’t so much that they’re slightly left-of-center or that they’re corporatist or whatever, but that they pretend to be totally objective, which is of course more or less an impossibility. This gives rise to both conservatives and liberals having pretty valid complaints about the way in which the establishment media covers news and politics.

    3. Despite point 2 above, I’m generally pretty wary of relying on Media Matters for reliable information, for the same reason I don’t like relying on Newbusters or the MRC – the facts they use may well be accurate, but the context and spin often take things in a direction they shouldn’t be taken. In the case of the study linked above, that context is the simple fact that the Administration at the time was Republican. This means that any attempt to interview someone about government policy will inherently focus more heavily on Republicans. Conservatives in the Clinton era were able to make almost identical complaints about Administration over-representation on the Sunday talk show circuit. The bottom line is that if you want to find out the internal workings of what government is doing, then you have to talk to someone in government – talking to someone of the opposing party is just going to be second hand information.

    4. I’m also curious about how Media Matters classified journalists and panelists as “conservative” or “liberal” or “neutral.” For instance, I see in the graphs that Media Matters claimed that of the journalists interviewed on the various programs, 64% were classified as “neutral on MTP, 45% as neutral on This Week, 90% as neutral on Face the Nation, and 26% as neutral on Fox News Sunday. Such high numbers of “neutrals” leave me very skeptical – I refuse to believe that journalists are automotons with no indpendent views that may color their comments.

    5. It seems worth noting that most conservatives would characterize Will and Brooks as RINOs. I suspect movement conservatives look at Will and Brooks quite similarly to how liberals look at Donaldson and Roberts.

    None of this is to say that I have a particular dog in this fight. Frankly, I tend to think that the media in general have a pro-Administration bias, whichever party happens to be in power. Mostly, though, they’re after ratings, which on these types of shows usually means appealing to the centrist consensus that more or less dominates our politics.Report

    • Avatar Freddie in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      I agree with almost all of this, but again– George Will is a true, vocal and consistent conservative. I don’t think that the ideological inclinations of journalists like Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts are analogous to Will and Brooks, avowed conservatives. But it’s debatable.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Freddie says:

        That’s one way to frame it.

        The other is to say “Will is honest about who he is, what his opinions are, how he leans, and there are no surprises. Donaldson hides his true opinions behind a facade of “objectivity” and, when the mask slips, one is left wondering how much of his (heretofore hidden) agenda has shaped the framing of any given news story he’s written or, more importantly, what does *NOT* get written because of the point of view he tries so desperately to communicate that he does not have. At least you know where Will stands. A reporter who pounds his chest and tells you he’s objective sounds like a used car dealer who prepends ‘Honest’ before his name. Sure you are, bud. Sure you are.”Report

    • Avatar Katherine in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      Brooks, a RINO? Isn’t this the guy who came up with “Axis of Evil”? Who accused even conservative opponents of the Iraq War of being traitors?Report

      • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Katherine says:

        That was Frum, actually. And they call him a RINO too.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Katherine says:

        Brooks is the guy who sat through that dinner with another guy’s hand on his thigh.

        RINO is one of those terms that gets thrown around a little too much for it to be easy to hammer down exactly where the line is (John McCain, for example, has it tossed his way from time to time) but, in Brooks’ case, I can totally understand why he gets it all the time.Report

      • Avatar alainL in reply to Katherine says:

        Brooks came out in support of Obama. That is the kiss of death for conservatives.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to alainL says:

          If you frame that correctly, you can work it out differently.

          Since we all know that McCain/Palin would be Bad For America, Obama is the last man standing when it comes to the available choices. Brooks, still a conservative, was not betraying conservative principles by supporting Obama. He was actually EMBODYING the conservative principles (so few conservatives actually have!) by being honest enough to support Obama. As such, he’s a “moderate”. Well within the bounds of acceptable discourse.

          (Note: I thought he only supported Obama over Hillary in the primaries which is nuance not well communicated by the phrase “supported Obama”)Report

    • Avatar Katherine in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      Socially liberal and economically corporatist is probably the fairest description.

      How is that “leaning slightly to the left”? It means that they are likely to hold conservative positions on approximately 90% of issues, but support same-sex marriage and abortion. I’d argue that the centre-left and left of the Democratic party, and the genuine left are underrepresented, as are social conservatives. That leaves us with a press that, in most debates, is tilting substantially to the right and doesn’t give much time to anyone left of the Blue Dogs.Report

    • Avatar Katherine in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      I should also note that civil libertarian views are also often left out, which could lead libertarians to feel they’re underrepresented (even though economic libertarian issues are well represented), but I don’t usually think of it that way because I associate things like civil libertarianism and drug legalization more with the left.Report

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