Thursday, August 13, 2009

Why don't people mention Rupert Murdoch as a key factor?

At TMV, this excerpt from NBC’s First Read on the town hall meetings:
While the focus of all these town-hall meetings across the country has been on health care, what has become clear is that the anger and frustration in the debate is about much more than that. Yesterday, one of us attended Sen. Ben Cardin’s (D) town hall in Hagerstown, MD, which is in a county McCain won but a state Obama overwhelmingly carried. The town hall had it all — shouting, shoving, at least one threat of pressing charges, two confrontations on race outside the town hall and people walking around with Obama-as-Hitler signs. At least the three-quarters of the crowd didn’t vote for Obama and said they would never vote for him. They were irritated with the direction of the country after the 2008 election, with a man as president they didn’t vote for, and with a Congress ruled by Democrats. They were angry with being out of power and having — because of being in the minority — what they felt was no say.

…. But there was no indication that these folks were so-called “Astroturf” grassroots supporters. (...) For many of the frustrated, there was real desperation in their voices — the belief, almost to the brink of tears, that the country is going to the pits. They are the true believers. They were also big-time Fox News viewers and Glenn Beck disciples, hammering home the perception that this is where these people get their news, er, information. One mother-daughter combo — unprompted — enthusiastically boasted, “Fox rules!” “It’s all we ever watch!”
It would be hyperbole to say that one man's ownership of a media empire - all by himself - could derail the wishes of the majority that voted last year, but he's an enormous reason for the way things stand today. Fox News (and to a lesser extent Murdoch's print media) is ramping up the crazy, and with no regrets.

TO CLARIFY: It's not that Murdoch's media empire is changing minds so much as it's raising the emotional tenor of the debate with propaganda aimed directly at conservatives. The goal is to paralyze Obama and the Democrats; to negate the democratic process.

HMM: Bruce Bartlett has similar thoughts (though not Murdoch-centric):
In my opinion, conservative activists, who seem to believe that the louder they shout the more correct their beliefs must be, are less angry about Obama’s policies than they are about having lost the White House in 2008. They are primarily Republican Party hacks trying to overturn the election results, not representatives of a true grassroots revolt against liberal policies. ...
Mark Thoma observes (at the same link above):
... my concern is that [conservatives/Republicans] can falsely blame the current administration and make questionable assertions without getting called on it in the media. It doesn't hurt your credibility to say false or misleading things about the Obama administration if there is no accountability for it from the major media (who instead seem to fan the flames of outrage irrespective of the underlying truth in their attempt to grab viewers). If the media carries the message without effective rebuttal, why not make outrageous claims?
If Thoma is correct, then the following formula applies:
Big Democratic win in 2008 + noisy obstructionist conservatives + lame-o media = failure to implement new policies
No wonder a sense of despair is setting in.

We're stuck in what Josh Marshall has called a "nonsense feedback loop"--a conversation in which Zeke Emanuel wants to kill grandma, health care reform is bad for the people who can't get health care, and Stephen Hawking has been snuffed out by the British National Health System. Instead of arguments that are unrelated to reality, we're getting arguments that are the very opposite of reality.
Where do you start with that? Do you take the time and effort to counter Investment Business Daily's claim that Stephen Hawking would be dead if he were under the British National Health System? Or should you chase down and rebut the latest lie from Betsy McCaughey? Or the "death panel" claim? Etc.

I get the feeling that many pro- health care reform folks have given up at the tactical level and are hoping that Congress and Obama will, basically, work independently of the ruckus and produce legislation, vote on it, and (maybe) get it passed.


just ocurred to me the same media who faulted howard dean for being an "angry" candidate laid down the red carpet treatment for teabaggers. and conservatives who mocked howard dean's rebel yell have been much worse and irrational to boot.

re bartlett, jusiper earlier expressed similar argument:

Man brings gun to Obama's NH townhall

Posted by Sini

This is the Republican endgame. All the incitement by Republican leaders and talk radio hosts is designed to harm the President. And if they fail to stop him politically, they hope to inspire someone in their base to do it another way.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/14/2009 12:03 AM  

Big Democratic win in 2008 + noisy obstructionist conservatives + lame-o media = failure to implement new policies

i don't think so. obama has made it clear he will employ the reconciliation process to push through the bill, if has to, to override the 60 vote requirement. surely he can pass it with 51 votes. what i worry about is how watered down the reforms will be.

remember the terry schiavo story and how it went down? this is not dissimilar. media devoted so much attention to the issue, favoring the gop perspective. but that resulted in a backlash. people got sick of conservatives intervening and sticking their noses in a private matter. dems took advantage of the backlash and won the midterms as a result.

to focus exclusively on media perception and to take a temperature reading solely on that - that's going to give a you skewed and misleading read.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/14/2009 12:15 AM  

what nate silver had to say about the gallup poll & death panels.

I also want to know whether Chuck Grassley, since he seems to be one of them, would accept the following trade: Democrats will drop the "death panels" if you'll drop your opposition to the public option.

no, because grassley is an obstructionist at heart. but i liked the symmetry.

seems pretty obvious that the living will provision that republican rep. johnny isakson introduced was a trojan horse meant to facilitate gop fearmonger about how "democrats want to kill grandma." especially when existing medicare already has provisions about living wills. this "death panel" provision is going to get negotiated away into oblivion.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/14/2009 12:36 AM  

Anonymous #3 (Can't you people use names?): You're on a slipper slope away from rationality when you start to ascribe motives to people. To defend Isakson (Damnit, I hate doing this, I'm hold my nose)he has been a long time promoter of living wills and I think he put the provision in the bill with all of the right intensions.

Generally: The medias failure is probably why Jon Steward is the "most trusted voice" in news.

By Anonymous Rockie the Dog, at 8/14/2009 10:10 AM  

You're on a slipper slope away from rationality when you start to ascribe motives to people.

doggy, after 8 years of bush lies and perpetual gop swiftboating against democrats, you want me to take republicans at face value?

there were medical professional healthcare activists who protested this provision. there are already advanced directives provisions in existing medicare. isakson's living wills "death panel" injection was redundant. so why then was it introduced?

By Anonymous cantupplgtaname, at 8/14/2009 12:11 PM  

More and more I am thinking that newspapers and the news are going away because the current crop of journalists, editors, and publishers have done such a piss poor job at their chosen profession. They don't do their homework. They don't write clearly. They don't cover important stories. They've been successfully mau-maued by the Right for the last 30 years. They don't punish lies and liars or reward the truth and truth-tellers.

I could go on.

Over the years, I've met a number of big name journos at press and policy events at Harvard and MIT. Most are smart and hard-working people with big blinders on. Some of them are indeed gasbags and shills. Even the best of them don't have a very wide perspective. Professional journalists not only can't see the forest for the trees; they also can't see the trees for the leaves. It's how they're trained.

By Blogger gmoke, at 8/14/2009 9:36 PM  

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