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YOU MAY IGNORE MUCH of this book, much of it a tendentious rehashing of liberal themes: Clinton was ambushed by the right-wing conspiracy, which also, working through the Florida legislature and the Supreme Court, stole the election from the infinitely honorable, honest and better qualified Al Gore. What’s this got to do with liberal bias? Well, the “cowed” media, afraid of being called liberal, just weren’t behaving as the classic investigative “watchdogs” they were meant to be.
That’s the closest he gets to the gravamen of the conservative complaint, namely that journalists let their biases slip into allegedly straight reporting. Mostly he imagines himself nobly debunking the liberal media charge by inveighing against conservative columnists and talk-show hosts, who provide welcome balance to smug straight-newspeople whose idea of acting as “watchdog” means watchfully finding social issues that government, by growing, can solve. These folks have long since stopped growling at government growth and coercion.
Alterman’s leaky little launch took on way too much water in the first chapter. But don’t miss the last pages, in which he theorizes — mirroring rightwing pamphleteers of the Birch persuasion — that the media reflexively follow the dictates of a powerful cabal of conservative activists and misanthropic millionaires, “the Conintern.” Like the Birchers whose theories were always “documented,” Alterman proudly offers lots and lots of meaningless footnotes, sometimes citing himself.
If, being an astute American, you know the media tilt left, then maybe, just for the sake of mirth, you should indulge the through-the-looking glass experience of Alterman’s last pages. But you should know that, somewhere, a news producer or bureau chief is thanking Alterman, and all his footnotes, for de-“cowing” him. Which was Alterman’s purpose.
Alterman actually gives the game away in his acknowledgments. He credits the idea and even the title of his book to Todd Gitlin, the Sixties radical who, as president of Students for a Democratic Society, wanted to overturn the reviled liberal order and supplant it with far-left ideology. Gitlin nowadays is everywhere cited in the mainstream media, with nary a reference to his activism, as a scholarly Sixties authority. No more needs be said about this book.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?