Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It's Even Worse Than Sirota Thinks.

I'm coming in a couple of days late on David Sirota's great HuffPo piece on why the punditocracy sucks, and why it espouses an utterly false view of what is Sensible and Centrist, but I had a chilling thought while reading passages like these:
...[W]hen you look at this large group of pundits, what do you know, almost every single one of these columnists lives in Washington, D.C. or New York City.

This is no exaggeration, and unlike most of the commentary in the news, it is not a fact-free opinion: it is cold, hard truth. By my informal count, every single Washington Post Writers Group columnist covering domestic politics lives inside the Beltway or in the Big Apple, except for Ellen Goodman who lives in Boston and Ruben Narvarette who lives in San Diego. Similarly, at least six out of the 8 New York Times columnists live in Washington D.C. or New York. LA Times? Same thing. Every single one of their national political columnists except Meghan Daum and Niall Furgeson live in Washington, D.C. Then take a gander at one of the biggest syndicates - Creators. By my count - which is only an eyeball count - roughly half of their entire stable of columnists lives in Washington or New York. In all, I can find almost none of these people who actually lives somewhere other than one of the coasts of the country - real-life proof that the media Establishment really does see the heartland as "flyover country" to be ignored.

(...)

That's right folks, the stereotype is, by and large, factually true: coastal elites are trying to impose a very narrow world view on the rest of the country - and people sense it because the opinionmaking machine is so uniform, and the media so consolidated, that this very narrow world view is being jammed down our throats everywhere. Hell, I can see it right there in my face when I sit down for a bagel at my local coffee shop in Helena, Montana, and open the local paper's commentary section, which - like many local papers' opinion pages these days - is now dominated by "national" pundits. On any given day, I see pieces from George Will trumpeting a New York City billionaire for his Wall Street conservatism. Or, I see right-wing Washington nobody Mona Charen and her latest screed demanding that all Jews adhere to neoconservatism as proof of their religious devotion. At best, if I'm lucky, I get a David Broder piece telling me how anyone who thinks our economic policies should serve middle America is a "protectionist" worthy of being tarred and feathered.

These professional political pontificators have barely ever bothered to even visit the middle of the country. Worse, the very top topics they address are way beyond merely unreflective of opinion in small towns like Helena: they have absolutely nothing to do even with what is important to our community. The people who spew these views are, in short, trying to impose their warped opinions and priorities on the rest of us.

(...)

So the next time you, one of the other 97 percent of the non-Washington/New York population read something outrageous from a national columnist or see some pundit arrogantly bloviating on television in a way that would get them a knuckle sandwich in your local bar, ask yourself: Are you really surprised? Is it any wonder that the Establishment's definition of the "center" is so totally and completely divorced from America's? Is it really a shock that when one of these columnists wrote that "voters shouldn't be allowed to define the choices in American politics" none of his fellow opinionmakers said anything, and in fact, many probably agreed? Are you really stunned that one of these columnists recently wrote with a straight face that the recent election means Democrats must shed all of their ties to pro-choice voters, unions and minorities?

And perhaps most important of all, ask yourself: are the majority of Americans really wrong when they say the media does not actually represent this country's mainstream and, in fact, has, through its leading opinion voices, shown a severe disdain for the very "national" perspective it purports to represent?
My chilling thought is this: The Republicans have (I believe) successfully fostered the myth that the media has a liberal bias, and the fact that almost all media pundits are wealthy coastal elitists plays right into that myth. So not only are these pundits completely full of shit... but I'm afraid that a large chunk of the population thinks they're liberal.

Hopefully, if the general population is smart enough to see that the pundits are full of shit, they're smart enough to see from which ideological direction most of the shit is spewing. If everyone thinks David Broder and Richard Cohen and the pro-war, pro-Lieberman, anti-blog stable of wankers at The New Republic are typical liberals, then the progressive movement is probably doomed.

(Belated hat tip to Blue Gal)

1 comment:

Sanjay said...

I think the gen populace is smart maybe a bit slow to catch on. Ofcourse the 25-30% that make up the base are not included.