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It's a fine line between living for the moment and being a sociopath.

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All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. --Pablo Neruda

Friday, November 18, 2005

This just in: I want you to think I'm under siege

By far the largest talk radio audiences in America flock to right wing programs.

Fox News outstrips the viewership of its closest rival, CNN, by as much as 2 to 1.

The majority of the most popular political blogs are right wing.

Given that popularity, it seems odd that if you tune in to any of these outlets you're likely to hear someone going off on a diatribe about the "main stream media". It goes something like this: "This piece of bad news unfavorable to the cause of just conservatives everywhere is a cyncial, beat-up distortion by the "main stream media", that bogeyman with a systematic liberal bias that consistently misleads the nation."

What's wrong with this picture is more than a little obvious. You see, when you hold the largest audiences on radio, cable news and the political blogosphere you *ARE* the main stream media!

I don't begrudge the right wing its media success. I hate it, but I can't deny they've earned it. Right wing outlets have out-competed others for the only media influence prizes that matter: the three Rs of ratings, readership and repeat visits. They have won a bigger audience in an open marketplace for attention. (...with only a few exceptions where they tilted the market in their favor, like the Board manipulations at PBS.) The ears and eyes they have today, they won in open combat.

Of course, they still carp about the (declining) viewership of the nightly free-to-air news broadcasts. But it's hard to assign bleeding-heart status to Viacom, General Electric and the Disney Corporation, the owners of CBS, NBC and ABC respectively.

So, you're pretty much left (no pun intended) with assaulting the New York Times and the Washington Post for having a liberal bias. Not that you'd have noticed one from the Times' sycophantic pre-war coverage. Besides, so few people in America read newspapers anymore that it hardly matters.

So, neocons, if you want to point a finger at the media machine that influences the main stream of America, congratulations. You'll find your finger pointing at, well, you.

More poignantly, however, the "main stream media" bias trope is only one soggy vegetable in the right's favorite rhetorical soup. What I'm talking about is the right wing's penchant for portaying itself as persecuted. The right loves to play the martyr, the underdog, the embattled innocent, just barely -- but righteously! -- surviving the slings and arrows of its enemies' onslaughts.

The coalition of odd bedfellows we collectively call the right wing plays victim better than your worst co-dependent ex-girlfriend. To whit:
  • The main stream media is abusing its power and is biased against us! (...even though we have some of the biggest media audiences in the country.)

  • The Godless, anti-Christian masses are driving America toward Hell! (...even though every poll shows Christians to be a clear majority.)

  • Activist judges are a relentless undemocratic force that must be stopped! (...even though we've controlled the judiciary committee for how long, now?)

  • Liberals are ruining America! (...even though we control the White House, the Senate, the House of Reps, a majority of Supreme Court seats, and 28 state governorships.)
"We're being marginalized and we're full of righteous indignation!"

Except, of course, they're neither. Indignation, maybe. Righteous not so much.

But don't expect the right wing to give up its pesecution complex any time soon. You might call it paranoia; they call it galvanizing rhetoric. It's both effective and deeply embedded in what makes the right wing who it is. They are at their most bubbly and effervescent when joyfully united by an enemy. Even if the enemy isn't real, it's existence failing to be borne out by the facts, no matter. Claim you're under siege and that something must be done!

Invent an enemy if you must. Without the Soviet Union, you gotta get a bit creative. Oh, wait... No, you don't. There are the terrorists to worry about. Unfortunately, it's been a while since they attacked us close enough to home to sufficiently scare people, so they're of diminished use to the pundits.

Main stream media! Biased reporting! Liberal journalists!


But, you know, when you own the most popular media outlets and your poster boy still craters to a 36% approval rating, it might just be because nobody believes his shit anymore, and not because of all those nasty liberal reporters out to get you.


See "The End of News" by Michael Massing.


Comments on "This just in: I want you to think I'm under siege"


Blogger BJ Aberle said ... (11:05 PM) : 

Invent an enemy? Did we invent Islamic terrorism? I will give you that it seems as though you are right about the media thing. But I have yet to find a good right wing blog that I read regularly. But I can find a million liberal left wing blogs. So I would contest that assertion....that is unless you have some numbers to back it up. Good reading none the less. Have a good weekend.


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