Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Conservative Media Goes Rogue

Recently I was trapped in traffic in my car, channel surfing for news on the Egyptian revolution, and came across a Fox funny person, Glenn Beck. I should have surfed on by, but was fascinated by his off the wall comments -- which admittedly I am probably taking out of context as I only listened to him for a couple of minutes -- but if I understood the thesis correctly, Obama's secret agenda ( as a "community organizer") is to organize the youth of the world (evidence: Obama appealing to "the youth of Egypt" during the crisis) in an attempt to encourage some sort of a new Industrial Workers of the World? Did I hear that correctly? And what does Beck have against youth?

Between Beck, Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh (BP&R), a flood of bizarre assertions have been made about Obama's motivations, and the conservative media is drowning in their spewed sewage. It is one thing to call Obama incompetent, or having the wrong priorities (neither true for the most part, at least in my opinion), but to foster these conspiracy theories is quite another. No American president has been so reviled by conservatives and, frankly, I can't figure out why and how the conservative movement thinks it can benefit from this kind of extremism, other than selling more newspapers, books, and media time.

No doubt, there is a buck to be made by BP&R and conservative leaning media, particularly Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation which now owns Fox, the Wall Street Journal, and the book publisher HarperCollins, just to name a few. This media giant can now create persuasive circular arguments, hiring Sarah Palin as a Fox News Contributor, having HarperCollins publish "her" book, the Wall Street Journal and other media quoting the wacky output of this celebrity politician, and, then have Fox News quote the WSJ. Murdoch began turning the UK's newspaper industry into sensational tabloids at the end of the 1960s (with the kind of blaring headlines as seen here in Piccadilly Circus when we first visited London after we were married) and some of the same methodology seems to be migrating to more recent ventures.

However, to my surprise, I read Michael Medved's opinion column in yesterday's Wall Street Journal discussing this very issue of the demonization of Obama -- and a "fair and balanced" one as well (maybe I'll keep my subscription after all) -- Obama Isn't Trying to 'Weaken America'.

Of course, as a conservative commentator, Medved fears that the BP&R's fixation on Obama as an evil-doer will ultimately be the ruination of Republican chances in the 2012 election. He rightfully points out that while the history of the presidency is fraught with mistakes, essentially the office has been occupied by people of good intentions. I could argue that although Nixon's presidency might have begun there, it ended in the office's worst betrayal, but I agree with Medved that the presidency's history "makes some of the current charges about Barack Obama especially distasteful—and destructive to the conservative cause."