Saturday, March 14, 2015


You want to know why Republicans have a "deep bench" going into the 2016 presidential election, while Democrats don't? It's because for years the press -- and I mean the so-called liberal media, not just the right-wing press -- has cooperated fully with right-wing efforts to portray certain Republican politicians as important, serious, fascinating rising stars, in a way that rarely happens for Democrats. Paul Ryan? Marco Rubio? Rand Paul? In recent years, all have received a great deal of fawning coverage in the non-conservative press.

And the press just continues catapulting right-wing propaganda about supposed future superstars. Consider this story from NPR's Ailsa Chang, which appeared on All Things Considered yesterday -- an unqualified puff piece, even though its subject is the man behind what is now recognized as an utter debacle for Republicans:
AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: All week, even against a crescendo of backlash about the letter, there were still plenty of Senate Republicans falling all over themselves to gush about the youngest member of their chamber.

SENATOR TED CRUZ: Oh, Tom Cotton is a smart, talented senator....

CHANG: For Iowa's Chuck Grassley, it's Cotton's resolve he admires.

SENATOR CHUCK GRASSLEY: He's a person you never have to put down, quote, unquote, as "undecided."

CHANG: And Mark Kirk of Illinois marvels at Cotton's intensity.

SENATOR MARK KIRK: He's a hardcharging guy, ex-military, very influential within the Republican conference.

CHANG: The guy they're fawning over has been a senator little more than nine weeks. He was barely into his first term in the House before he started ramping up to run for the upper chamber. And now at 37, Cotton has emerged as the standout of his freshman Senate class. Tall and lanky with an impassive face, Cotton can come off as aloof, distant. Colleagues call him fiercely focused, a politician who relentlessly stays on message...
Yes, it's all like this. We hear from one of Cotton's professors at Harvard, Harvey Mansfield. ("He didn't want to be a philosopher for the sake of philosophy. He wanted to see what he can learn in order to guide his life and do some structure to his thinking.") We hear about his votes against the farm bill. ("Even though the bill was popular among farmers in his state, the vote was a protest against big government.") We get his showboating proclamation that prisoners in Guantanamo should "rot in hell," followed by Senator Mark Kirk kvelling ("When he destroyed the administration the other day on GTMO, that was perfect").

Thee's no skepticism in the story. Criticism of Cotton's letter to Iran's leaders -- which has come even from conservative pundits, Republican political pros, an Army general, and at least one of its own signers -- is never mentioned beyond he fleeting reference to "a crescendo of backlash," which, we're told, isn't preventing "plenty of Senate Republicans" from "falling all over themselves to gush" about Cotton.

Oh, and the story ends this way:
CHANG: And now there's already presidential chatter. A bill was introduced in Arkansas this week that would let Cotton seek reelection for Senate and run for president at the same time.
Shorter NPR: He's dreamy!

The right defines every media outlet that's not overtly conservative as part of the "liberal media." But the "liberal media" is always willing to give coverage like this to hyped Republicans, at least until they've gone so far off the rails that their extremism is impossible to ignore. Even Ted Cruz got coverage like this at the beginning of his Senate term:
Before the Texas Republican was even elected to the seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison, Cruz was viewed as a fast-rising star in the GOP. He’s a Cuban-American, Princeton educated and a former solicitor general of Texas who has the tea party firmly in his corner....

Now, Cruz is in Washington ready to be the anti-establishment guy who’ll help fix the establishment....

It was at the APP gala that Cruz gave what could be described as a presidential speech, laying out his views on the future of conservatism. Even though it was weeks until he would be sworn in, the speech immediately fueled talk of a 2016 presidential run....
Not only doesn't the right-wing press reciprocate, the mainstream press rarely does this for Democrats. Oh sure, for a few: Barack Obama a decade ago, and more recently Elizabeth Warren and (for whatever it was worth) Wendy Davis. But that doesn't offset the positive, isn't-he-fascinating? coverage of Ryan, Cruz, Paul, Rubio, Kasich, pre-Bridgegate Christie....

This is why Jonathan Bernstein was wrong a few days ago when he insisted that Democrats have just as deep a bench as Republicans:
There's Martin O’Malley, the former Maryland governor, who is actually running [for president]. And Elizabeth Warren. And Andrew Cuomo, Al Franken, Tim Kaine, Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner. Oh, and Michael Bennet, Mike Beebe, Christine Gregoire, Maggie Hassan, Jeanne Shaheen, Sherrod Brown, Kirsten Gillibrand, John Hickenlooper and Deval Patrick.
Seriously? When have you ever seen a story about any of these people, Warren excepted, that's as breathless with anticipation of potential future greatness as the Cotton story quoted above?

Democrats don't shout from the housetops that their successful politicians are presidential material and forces to be reckoned with. Therefore the mainstream press doesn't take rising Democratic pols seriously -- or perhaps it's that the press would rather run puff pieces about Republicans to avoid charges of liberal bias. (Not that it helps.)

And so the Republican bench jut gets bigger, and the Democratic bench shrinks to nothing.

(Hat tip: Living Democracy.)


Cirze said...

Sounds like just more stenography to me.

Whoever writes this tripe must have studied typing not English.

By the way, they aren't saying this at real reporting sites like LINK TV, FSTV and RT.

Comes the revolution . . .


Love ya!

bming5 said...

Steve M. Thank you for your excellent research and articulating the core problem (around the globe) so clearly. The media is not only bought, but is colluding in the decimation of civility and the planet itself. NPR has been in their lap for decades. It really does feel like 'soft core' to endure their 'balanced' reporting -gag me.

Palli said...

The GOP figureheads. McCain and McConnell et al have no shame, pride or purpose. Younger GOP play crap shoot games about whose coat tails to follow. No way to run a Congress.

Victor said...

Look it's simple to understand why almost all of the Republicans signed Cotton's idiotic and mutinous letter:
1. It spits in the eye of President Obama, and chest-thumps in the direction of Iran!
2. It pisses-off the Libtards!!
3. And all of the above, warms the cockles of what little there is of the GOP base's hate and fear filled, heart's!!!

In other words, it's "The Wingnut Trifecta!!!!!!!!"

Unknown said...

Who is Tom Cotton? Read what he wrote at Harvard:

northierthanthou said...

I think the biggest thing is that the mainstream press cooperates with right wing branding. How someone like Rush Limbaugh could be characterized as anything but a professional bigot is beyond me, but news station after news station will happily identify him as a conservative talk show host.