Monday, February 07, 2011


Politico's John Harris and Jim VandeHei, from the current lead story at the site, "How President Obama Plays Media Like a Fiddle":

...He is doing it by exploiting some of the most longstanding traits among reporters who cover politics and government -- their favoritism for politicians perceived as ideologically centrist and willing to profess devotion to Washington’s oft-honored, rarely practiced civic religion of bipartisanship....

Conservatives are convinced the vast majority of reporters at mainstream news organizations are liberals who hover expectantly for each new issue of The Nation.

It's just not true. The majority of political writers we know might more accurately be accused of centrist bias.

That is, they believe broadly in government activism, but are instinctually skeptical of anything that smacks of ideological zealotry and are quick to see the public interest as being distorted by excessive partisanship....

Yes, maybe -- but anyone who wasn't in a coma during George W. Bush's first term knows the difference between what the Beltway press regards as swoon-worthy Republican "centrism" and swoon-worthy Democratic "centrism."

If you're a Republican who's seducing the media, you stake out nakedly ideological right-wing positions on virtually every issue -- but, in an act of great magnanimity, you refrain from accusing Democrats and liberals of being evil commie Nazi traitors (although you never bother to insist that your surrogates exercise similar restraint). If you're a Democrat, on the other hand, you have to move far to the right on issue after issue -- war if the Republicans are beating war drums, budgeting if Republicans are in deficit-hawk mode -- and you can never lick CEOs' boots often enough. You have to kowtow to the Chamber of Commerce and pack your administration with corpocrats and back away from raising taxes on the rich and refrain from prosecuting fat cats even if they willfully destroy the economy and bail those same fat cats out -- and even then, if you or anyone who can be remotely connected to you utters even a mild word of criticism about our corporate overlords, even a word that has no effective government action behind it, you have redouble your efforts at forelock-tugging and general abasement.

When a Republican president has to endlessly proclaim the wonderfulness of union workers and environmental scientists and community organizers, and has to stock his administration with representatives of all these institutions, and has to support much of the legislation favored by these institutions, and is dinged for partisanship if he utters one fleeting criticism of any of them -- that's when we'll have achieved parity on "centrism."

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