Saturday, April 19, 2014

Inside The GOP's Fact-Free Nation, Part 3


Our three-part series concludes with part three from Rick Perlstein, "Inside The GOP's Fact-Free Nation," where we are brought up from yesterday's Conservative liars to today's Conservative liars -- from Reagan to Agnew to George Will to Breitbart to O'Keefe.


********************



"The speech was an excoriation of those very networks and their Stern White Men—'this little group of men who not only enjoy a right of instant rebuttal to every presidential address, but more importantly, wield a free hand in selecting, presenting, and interpreting the great issues of our nation.... The American people would rightly not tolerate this kind of concentration of power in government. Is it not fair and relevant to question its concentration in the hands of a tiny and closed fraternity of privileged men, elected by no one, and enjoying a monopoly sanctioned and licensed by government?' Those in the habit of exposing the sins of the powerful were no longer independent arbiters—they were liberals. Such was the bias, Agnew argued, of 'commentators and producers [who] live and work in the geographical and intellectual confines of Washington, DC, or New York City,' who 'bask in their own provincialism, their own parochialism.'
"Foreshadowing Reagan's framing of truth-telling as elitist meddling, Agnew singled out for opprobrium the kind of reporting that 'made 'hunger' and 'black lung disease' national issues overnight."
"Foreshadowing Reagan's framing of reform-minded truth-telling as a brand of elitist meddling, Agnew singled out for opprobrium the kind of reporting that "made 'hunger' and 'black lung' disease national issues overnight" (quotation marks his). TV reporting from Vietnam had done "what no other medium could have done in terms of dramatizing the horrors of war"—and that, too, was evidence of liberal bias.


"Agnew's remarks reinforced a mood that had been building since at least the 1968 Democratic National Convention, when many viewers complained about the media images of police beating protesters. By the 1980s the trend was fully apparent: News became fluffier, hosts became airier—less assured of their own moral authority. (Around this same time, TV news lost its exceptional status within the networks—once accepted as a 'loss leader' intended to burnish their prestige, it was increasingly subject to bottom-line pressures.)

"There evolved a new media definition of civility that privileged 'balance' over truth-telling—even when one side was lying. It's a real and profound change—one stunningly obvious when you review a 1973 PBS news panel hosted by Bill Moyers and featuring National Review editor George Will, both excoriating the administration's 'Watergate morality.' Such a panel today on, say, global warming would not be complete without a complement of conservatives, one of them probably George Will, lambasting the 'liberal' contention that scientific facts are facts—and anyone daring to call them out for lying would be instantly censured. It's happened to me more than once—on public radio, no less.


"In the same vein, when the Obama administration accused Fox News of not being a legitimate news source, the DC journalism elite rushed to admonish the White House. Granted, they were partly defending Major Garrett, the network's since-departed White House correspondent and a solid journalist—but in the process, few acknowledged that under Roger Ailes, another Nixon veteran, management has enforced an ideological line top to bottom.

"The protective bubble of the 'civility' mandate also seems to extend to the propagandists whose absurdly doctored stories and videos continue to fool the mainstream media. From blogger Pamela Geller, originator of the 'Ground Zero mosque' falsehood, to Andrew Breitbart's video attack on Shirley Sherrod—who lost her job after her anti-discrimination speech was deceptively edited to make her sound like a racist—to James O'Keefe's fraudulent sting against National Public Radio, right-wing ideologues 'lie without consequence,' as a desperate Vincent Foster put it in his suicide note nearly two decades ago. But they only succeed because they are amplified by 'balanced' outlets that frame each smear as just another he-said-she-said 'controversy.'


"And here, in the end, is the difference between the untruths told by William Randolph Hearst and Lyndon Baines Johnson, and the ones inundating us now: Today, it's not just the most powerful men who can lie and get away with it. It's just about anyone—a congressional back-bencher, an ideology-driven hack, a guy with a video camera—who can inject deception into the news cycle and the political discourse on a grand scale.

"Sure, there will always be liars in positions of influence—that's stipulated, as the lawyers say. And the media, God knows, have never been ideal watchdogs—the battleships that crossed the seas to avenge the sinking of the Maine attest to that. What's new is the way the liars and their enablers now work hand in glove. That I call a mendocracy, and it is the regime that governs us now.

********************


When Conservatism is criminalized, mendocracy will be no more and a reenactment of the Fairness Doctrine won't be necessary either.

As we noted on our Page on the main website, "Objections Rebutted," "Free speech does not permit us to threaten another or to lie for profit with impunity, nor does it permit us the proverbial yell of 'fire' in a theater. Mafia figures cannot invade our schoolyards to recruit our children nor to dull their minds by selling them marijuana, and confidence men are routinely sent to prison for robbing their victims without laying a hand on them.

"These are all viable analogies of the crimes committed against our country as a whole and to our citizens individually by Conservatives, and have nothing to do with honest political debates where opinions are examined for the benefits to the welfare of the People. Conservative rhetoric is aimed solely to acquire total power, maximize income, and retain assets for the benefit of the rich by any means. Speech supporting such goals cannot be tolerated in our democracy."


We noted under the Comments section on the same Page, "'Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depositary of the public interests. In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare themselves. Call them, therefore, Liberals and Serviles, Jacobins and Ultras, Whigs and Tories, Republicans and Federalists, Aristocrats and Democrats, or by whatever name you please, they are the same parties still and pursue the same object. The last one of Aristocrats and Democrats is the true one expressing the essence of all.' --Thomas Jefferson to Henry Lee, 1824."

It's time Mr. Jefferson's insight into Conservatism was brought to the uninformed voters' attention.



---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


"Yeah, I would."

(Nevada GOP Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, when asked if he would vote to

reinstate slavery if his constituents wanted it.)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------