I’ve just returned from the National Review cruise, seven days of listening to major conservative minds like PJ Media’s own Victor Davis Hanson, Mark Steyn, Jonah Goldbergh, Ramesh Ponnuru, Mona Charen, John O’Sullivan, Andrew McCarthy, John Yoo, and many others. Again and again, as we motored through the Caribbean, I was struck by the speakers’ quality of thought, their breadth of knowledge and depth of insight. And again and again, I found myself thinking, why doesn’t the world at large get to see these guys more often?
I love Fox News. Love Hannity, O’Reilly, the whole gang, not to mention Rush, Ann Coulter, and of course the guy who gives my videos a home, Glenn Beck. But if you don’t happen to be a conservative, if you’re the typical individual who doesn’t follow politics very closely but votes for the person who seems “fair” or “nice” or the one who doesn’t cheat on his wife or the one who looks presidential, the most popular conservative commentators can seem brash, loud, aggressive, and even mean.
Meanwhile, you’re probably getting your news from people whose approach to information is so one-sided as to be dishonest — people,I mean, like Brian Williams, George Stephanopolous, and Diane Sawyer. And yet they appear thoroughly presentable: polite, well-spoken — exuding elegance and good will even as they go about demonizing anyone they disagree with.
That’s why the sort of commentators who were on the NR cruise could be invaluable weapons in the information wars. It would, I think, be very difficult for anyone to accuse Mona Charen of being brash or aggressive, or anything but the gracious, thoughtful, well-spoken lady she obviously is. It would be pretty hard to peg the soft-spoken, professorial VDH with being loud or mean. So too with Goldberg, Ponnuru, McCarthy, and the others.
But these people don’t appear all that often in venues where the normal news-gathering citizen can see and hear them. They certainly don’t often get interviewed on ABC, CBS, or NBC.
And, of course, we know why. ABC, CBS, and NBC are dishonest brokers of information. The left-wing narrative affects their world view and skews their news. They look at a tea party demonstration of ten thousand and spot one racist and declare him a representative element of an essentially radical movement. They look at 750 Occupy protesters, see 700 slobs, thugs, and anti-semites, and declare them an anomalous sideshow of a mainstream uprising. Sometimes they actually lie — by commission or omission — but just as often, I think, they simply see what they expect to see and are incapable of seeing or reporting anything else. (To see more clearly they would have to hire someone perhaps a little bit less biased than, say, Chelsea Clinton.)
They don’t interview thoughtful, polite, well-informed, and insightful conservatives like VDH and Jonah Goldberg because that’s not what a conservative looks like to them. No southern accents? No bad grammar, no angry displays or signs of bigotry? Sharp minds capable of vivisecting the left’s make-believe world and absurd worldview? I mean, dude, what’s up with that?
Which leads me to what I consider the central riddle of the right. Why don’t we make more attempts to seize the mainstream back from the dishonest left? Why don’t we create venues that are inviting to the independents and undecideds and even the uninterested, where we can put our best minds and talents on display? If there’s one Fox News that’s incredibly successful, why not another aimed toward the youth market and another aimed toward high cultural types ala NPR and others whose central product is not political but is informed by American values and principles? Fox and Rush and the others reach the energized political right, God bless them. But why aren’t we reaching out for everyone else as well?
We finally have information outlets that serve our own. But the left is smart enough to fight for the mainstream.
We ought to fight back.