Party Like It's 2004

What happened to the New York Times? “Pinch happened,” Jed Babbin writes at the American Spectator.

Pinch Sulzberger transformed the New York Times from a relatively objective paper that in the early 1970s even William F. Buckley, admired to its current opinion-obsessed far-left mess. As William McGowan writes in his new book, Gray Lady Down, back in 1972, even as the Nixon Administration was railing against the Washington Post, National Review wrote, “Were the news standards of the Times more broadly emulated, the nation would be far better informed and more honorably served.”


But that was before Pinch hit the fans.

Babbin notes that incoming editor Jill Ambramson “will complete Pinch’s transformation of the Times.” And not entirely “unexpectedly,” that could be a very good thing for, as the average Timesman would say, the Slopes in the Midwest, he adds:

Republicans should celebrate Abramson’s promotion because if they look closely at it — and at the growing effectiveness of conservative media — they will see two freight trains running toward each other that will collide spectacularly next year right in front of the eyes of American voters.

The two first collided in a 2004 fender-bender that cost Dan Rather his job when conservative bloggers exposed the phony documents he used to attack George Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard. The media learned from Rather’s mistake and four years later reasserted themselves in the role of the gatekeepers of voters’ knowledge. Throughout the Obama campaign stories which real reporters would have dug into deeply — such as Obama’s record in the Illinois legislature, his association with shady characters such as Tony Rezko, and his two decades of listening to radical preacher Jeremiah Wright — were stories the gatekeeper media chose not to report. (The Times, of course, held the story on John McCain’s alleged affair with a lobbyist until he had secured the nomination. The story was debunked before the ink dried on the Times‘ front page.)

The lavish coverage and daily praise the media poured on Obama pushed critical examination of him out of voters’ consciousness. The pro-Obama narrative isn’t the result of some dark conspiracy: it’s the product of the media’s culture. The media culture is so powerful and so common that reporters, editors and television news executives can no more resist it than Canada geese can resist the instinct to fly south in winter.

All of this is good news for Republicans because conservative media are more brash, more agile and more willing to report real news than the dinosaurs of the gatekeeper media. Talk radio has a larger and more politically-active audience than all the liberal newspapers, lib talkers and liberal TV programs combined. When they collide head-on with the New York Times and the rest of the gatekeeper media, the result will be a fire on which Republicans can roast every Democratic candidate from Obama on down.

Republicans should mount an anti-media campaign and their weapon of choice should be humor. They can tell the media that their secret is out: Americans know, they should say, that you’re just a dysfunctional liberal family the likes of which isn’t usually seen outside Hollywood.

A steady stream of RNC-sponsored television commercials poking fun at the NBC/MSNBC ranters, at the New York Times‘ and Washington Post’s selective reporting and such would do two things. First, the commercials would make the media an issue that the Democrats will try to defend and can’t. The targets of the campaign will spin themselves into a frenzy of defense, taking time away from their pro-Obama activities.

Second, they will win a lot of votes from the independent voters who trust the media even less than they trust Congress. Those commercials could be worth tens of thousands of independent votes because Americans are ready to revolt against the hyperliberal media.

Make Sulzberger, Soros, and the “suits” — such as Phil Griffin — who run MSNBC the issue, and it could be the seed from which a new Media Tea Party Movement will sprout. These guys are so ripe a target, only Republicans’ timidity can protect them.


Poking fun at the elitist left worked extremely well for the GOP in 2004 — and a similar approach kept an otherwise sclerotic McCain campaign neck and neck with Obama in 2008 until he near-simultaneously lost his nerve, and “suspended his campaign” in the fall of ’08, in retrospect, permanently.

But the time to start this is now. Waiting until the closing days of the race is for losers. See also: McCain’s advisors in 2008.

At the Tatler, Bryan Preston is starting the campaign off already.


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