That's all fine and dandy, and certainly not unwelcome, but it only affects one leg of the Republican power tripod. The other two legs, election manipulation (whether via
rigged electronic voting or just plain old gaming of voting rights and opportunities) and complicit media, are still in perfect health, seemingly unafflicted by the tumors of fair play and accountability. The Democrats are strangely passive on electoral reform, and they seem resigned to the media's preferential treatment of Republicans as a fait accompli. I had hoped that Dean would give them some fire on these issues, but I haven't seen it yet.
While I see little cause for hope on the electoral side, the Runaway Bride story and all the other trivial, distracting, contentless media circuses we have been bombarded with make me wonder if there is some point at which the media could be said to overreach; or, perhaps more accurately, underreach. Is it possible that in their blind efforts to race to the bottom common denominator, that they will begin to see a backlash, wherein more and more people become disgusted with the fluff and the spin, and begin to avail themselves of the copious alternatives
available in cable television's expanded basic wasteland?
Oh, the media hacks would misread the signs at first, and frantically crank up the volume while cranking down the content in a vain effort to rekindle interest, but that would only accelerate the rate of desertion. Any network with a safe harbor of solid, reliable, in-depth news could
clean up in such a scenario, although the greater probability is simply that fewer people would watch any news at all, at least until the news media finally caught on.
Or, alternatively, instead of driving people away in disgust, which is, quite frankly, difficult to do in this country, we could have the equivalent of an Enron or Watergate scandal. No, not Memogate, that was a minor screw-up in the grand scheme of things. I'm talking about evidence of a deliberate media whitewash or coverup of a big, important, damaging-to-Republicans story
(something like hard evidence of electronic vote tampering, or still more embarrassing revelations of just how phony the case for invading Iraq was, or how strong the warnings about 9/11 were), preferably with some juicy memos or phone calls showing that Rove or other significant Republicans were applying the pressure.
The effect might only be temporary, but for at least a few years, the media would be a lot more wary about getting into bed with the Republicans, or even appearing to be. Of course, the tricky part would finding a way to propagate an anti-media story without the help of the media - blogs can only do so much.
But hey, what do I know? I thought Mr. Personality (suitors in masks; hosted by Monica Lewinsky) would be the death of Reality TV...