Thursday, February 10, 2005


The Jeff Gannon story is in the New York Daily News, under this headline: "Bush Press Pal Quits Over Gay Prostie Link." That's very nice. (Those of you who don't know who Jeff Gannon is should go to the link immediately, or get the basic story at World O'Crap or AMERICAblog.)

But mark my words, this story is cresting; it'll disappear from sight soon. An anti-gay White House credentials a "journalist" (with no journalism experience) who seems linked to gay prostitution; the "journalist" receives a classified CIA memo on Valerie Plame; his "news outlet" is a propaganda operation linked to the Texas GOP ... sounds like a juicy story, right? Unh-unh. Wolf Blitzer and Howard Kurtz say it's just de trop, and they and their friends decide these things.

And now this morning I see that Atrios is citing the shocking racism of the wife of the managing editor of The Washington Times ("Muslims are 'human hyenas' who 'smell blood' and are 'closing in' on their 'weakened prey,' meaning 'the white race'"); she's been published 35 times in his paper. And I have an e-mail correspondent who, in response to posts I've done on Grover Norquist, urges me to point out whenever possible that the highly influential GOP strategist has been linked to Hezbollah.

I'm mentioning all these things together because sometimes I wonder why we lefty bloggers bother to bring any of this stuff up. None of it gets traction. The scandals of the Clinton years -- not just Monica but the haircut and the Travel Office -- have lingered in America's collective memory for years; the embarrassments we dig up (or the ones that are just hiding in plain sight) just fizzle out.

You can say what you want about the "liberal media," but here's something you can't dispute seriously: The press outlets described as "mainstream" and "liberal" reflexively recoil from scandal and outrage involving the Right. If you got all your news from CNN or The New York Times (Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd perhaps excepted), you might never know that anyone in the GOP has ties to monsters, or says things that are utterly beyond the pale, or engages in behavior that's lurid and titillating. Republicans' Social Security numbers may not add up, their WMDs may not be buried where they were supposed to be buried, but they, personally, are not freaks.

And the comparable voices on the right never stop describing Democrats and liberals as freaks. So what you get from, say, the Fox News one-two punch in prime time -- Hannity & Colmes and The O'Reilly Factor -- is an endless succession of stories meant to appall mainstream America and affirm the premise that Democrats, liberals, and leftists are dangerous, delusional, hate-filled, irresponsible, indecent, profligate, and profane; people who pick pockets and undermine morals; people who favor jackbooted totalitarianism and anarchic lawlessness. People who are, in a word, freaks.

I don't know if America believes everything the Right says. But if the only controversial things America learns about the GOP from the press involve policy, while scandal is a big part of what's discussed regarding Democrats, is it any wonder that America votes Republican? What we're being told is that one party is made up of people who are within the pale while the other party is full of sickos; if you were an apolitical undecided voter unable to make up your mind in a close election, which would you ultimately choose?

Our side needs to start talk about GOP freaks and sickos; we need to remove the mantle of normality from the Republican Party. We can't just pitch our media (Air America, etc.) to our own -- we have to push stories that will make apolitical Aunt Edna and Uncle Ned think, "That guy is really messed up in the head."

This needs to happen on TV. If I were, say, Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, I'd go to an all-GOP-freak format, as direct counterprogramming to Fox.

It might just save the country -- and I'm not exaggerating.

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