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John Ziegler, MSNBC, the GOP and the Democratic Media.

Change the Rules of Engagement

Please take a look at this interchange between John Ziegler and Contessa Brewer on Barack Obama’s MSNBC. (H/T: crippy)

John Ziegler just demonstrated the picture-perfect attitude to take towards the “reporters” and “anchors” at any and all of the Democratic networks; ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, etc.

Some variant of disdain, contempt or somewhere in between. No liberal-talking point assertion or premise should be left unchallenged. Openly and repeatedly question their honesty and integrity. Highlight their hypocrisy in their coverage. Change the subject when you feel like it or stay on a subject even if they want to move on. Ask them questions that they have to answer before the interview can go further.

Monday Morning Quarterbacking; Ziegler only made a few mistakes as far as I can see;

  1. not directly asking Contessa Brewer if she thinks it’s fine that David Letterman attacked Palin’s 14 year old daughter and why she didn’t show that part of Letterman’s act? Why is she deliberately ignoring the attack on Willow Palin? As a mother, would she let it slide? Is she a mother? Why is she and her network trying to make the American people think Palin was only complaining about the attack on her while deliberately, dishonestly, keeping the creepy attack on her daughter off the radar?
  2. when Brewer brought up the silly factoid about the poll showing Palin as not being seen as one of the spokesmen for the GOP, he should have pointed it out and dismissed it for the irrelevancy that it is, and pointed out that it’s only out-of-touch journalists who think it’s significant – Palin is the Governor of a vast state, with an environment tougher than any other state, she doesn’t have time to waste on such nonsense as an irrelevant poll.
  3. when he touched on the fact of the media portraying the GOP as being solely comprised of old white men {NRSC endorsing Charlie Crist doesn’t help} Ziegler should have added that the only time the media covers Governor Palin is when they’re attacking her with knowingly false Democratic talking points (like Keith Olbermann on “plagiarism”) or from the fever swamps of the Left-wing blogosphere, so of course, the poll results will reflect that.
  4. when Contessa Brewer (at 3:50) challenged Ziegler about asking Palin “tough questions“, he should have reacted, first of all, by letting loose with a long and hard laugh. And then he should have answered that the day any reporter at MSNBC stops swooning at Obama’s feet and actually asks Obama a question tougher than “Why are you so soooo dreamy? Can I have your autograph? On my chest?”, that’ll be the day MSNBC can question anyone else on asking tough questions.

But then, I wasn’t the one in the hot seat, I’m critiquing in hindsight, and even with all that Ziegler did very very well in that interview. He was properly mocking, disdainful, disbelieving and made it very clear that he considered Contessa Brewer and her network to be no more than Democratic mouthpieces.

Which happens to have the benefit of being the truth.

Of course, I suspect that our coterie of liberal-elite-approval seeking “moderates” (i.e. Frum, Brooks, Dreher, McCain[s], Gergen, etc.) would be up in arms if this attitude of Ziegler’s were to spread amongst all Republicans and Republican spokesmen. They’ll all troop to the news studios to do what they do best; attack the GOP in exchange for cocktail party invitations or a byline in TIME, Newsweek, The Nation, The New York Times, etc.

Ultimately though, the GOP is never going to regain power, at least enough to make a difference if the Press continues to benefit from the pretense on our side of the aisle that they’re non-partisan actors – they are not. Virtually no Republicans (even including the miniscule number of Vichy “moderate” Republicans) work in the newsrooms of the major networks, CNN and most certainly, MSNBC. A similar situation exists at most of the major newspapers, most especially the NYT and WaPo. And I can’t help but think that this is deliberate on the part of the owners and management, almost all of whom are Democrats and heavy Democratic contributors, i.e. Sumner Redstone, Robert Iger, Ted Turner, Arthur Schultzberger, etc.

A situation like that is no different from having all the networks and major newspapers run from the DNC’s suite of offices in Washington DC. Personnel is policy; in the past, political parties set up newspapers and ensured that they (party and paper) were all singing from the same hymnsheet by only hiring loyal party members and ideological fellow-travellers. News media organs were openly partisan in the editorials and coverage (and even in name i.e. Arkansas Democrat Gazette) – the same situation as it is now, except that back then, they were more honest about it.

In Europe, the papers are openly ideological and often strongly identified with – if not always a 100% supportive of – a political party i.e. In the UK, The Daily Telegraph (Right) – Tories vs The Guardian (Left) – Labour. In France Le Figaro (Right – at least in French terms) – UMP squares off against Le Monde (Left) – Socialists.

The media environment in America is essentially the same, except for the lack of open honesty about leanings and the active efforts to conceal it, e.g. most of the major newspapers severely curtail their reporters from donating to political campaigns and causes and exposing their biases so readers would be able to apply due diligence in reading their work.

Because of the assymetrical balance of media power between the two parties in favor of the other side, it is not a realistic option to demand that Republican politicians “boycott” Democratic networks/outlets. FOX News does not reach a tenth as many people as the networks, CNN, MSNBC, the newspapers and wire services do on a daily basis. A boycott is therefore no different from wholesale abandoning the field of battle.

To be honest, apart from the candidate’s own unfortunate yet typical conviction-free politician’s instinct to outsource his decision making on whether or not he supported the Obama $700 billion Debtulus to “current poll”-driven consultants (who advised to straddle so as not to offend either side and ended with him turning off both), I also blame Rush Limbaugh and his “I hope he fails.” comment for Jim Tedisco’s loss in the NY20 special election.

Don’t get me wrong; it was a perfectly defensible comment – except that Limbaugh failed to defend it where it mattered. The millions of listeners who listen to his show every morning heard him explain what he meant and how he meant it. The many millions more – including voters in NY20 – who have been told repeatedly on broadcast and in print, in movies, television series and in their college classrooms, that Limbaugh’s is a voice of hate, profanity and ignorance, who have never tuned in to listen to him and because of what they’ve heard and absorbed, likely never will, saw and heard what the Obama White House Communications Office and their proxies in the Democratic media wanted them to believe Limbaugh meant.

I believe Tedisco’s numbers began to crater from 12 points up starting from then – and then came his Debtulus straddle. I believed then, as I believe now, that Limbaugh should have gone on the Sunday Morning Talk Shows, the Evening News, Larry King, etc. It might have made a difference in NY20 – it might not. But it certainly would have made the co-ordinated campaign between the White House and the media to proclaim Rush Limbaugh the leader of the GOP much more complicated. Not to mention sending a lot of the Left-Wing fever swamps into orbit with rage – which is good in and of itself.

The Left considers the so-called “mainstream” media i.e. television broadcast and newspapers to be its exclusive domain – they hate to see any member of the Right on their television screens – despite Olbermann, Matthews and Maddow, and anchors and reporters that consistently massage their reports a single appearance by Ann Coulter to spar alone with Matthews and four other liberals is enough to have Kossacks declaring that MSNBC is a “Far Right-Wing” network.

So rather than boycott the Democratic news outlets, conservative Republicans should be clamoring to be on them … with thoroughly rewritten rules of engagement.

To elected Republicans; these people – Wolf Blitzer, Katie Couric, Bob Schieffer, George Stephanopolous, Anderson Cooper, Chris Matthews, Contessa Brewer etc. – are not your friends. They’re not neutral observers – they are actively, passionately, on the other side and they consider it a good day when they make you look bad, and they would not hesitate to omit, massage and twist the truth, or even outright lie, to do it. And they rely on your silence, on your going along with them as they pretend to be disinterested non-combatants to make their attacks on you more effective.

So there is nothing wrong in questioning them, challenging them, exposing them and naming names. There’s nothing wrong with making them upset – your existence already accomplished that. It’s simply politics – and it ain’t beanbag. Ignore the feigned disbelieving looks of shock and outraged protestations, the pained shrieks from the Left’s menagerie of domesticated “Republicans” of convenience parachuted in to defend their “impartiality” and press on.

Either force them to openly come out as advocates for one side, or actually begin to actually address the bias caused by their hiring from only one side of the ideological and partisan divide.

The choice should be simple; either be passionate partisan combatants or neutral dispassionate observers. There should be no option to act as the former while demanding to be treated as the latter.

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