Breitbart.tv ACORN exposé illustrates potency of new conservative media revolution.
It was the biggest story of 2009.
If you doubt, ask ACORN. Or Van Jones. Or the So We Might See campaign. You won’t need Time magazine’s once clout-filled “Man of the Year” issue to figure it out, either. Just take a look back at the bestseller lists, the ratings of Fox News or simply turn on your local AM radio dial.
The single most important news event of 2009 was the emergence of The Virtual Newsroom. A newsroom run by a virtual army of conservative journalists famous and unknown, their individual and collective impact multiplied exponentially by millions of Internet users, radio listeners, readers and television viewers.
How did this happen? How does it work in practice?
First, perspective is needed here. Like other big news events, it didn’t happen overnight. There is history, lots of it.
In the afterglow of World War II, at the dawn of the Cold War, the ideology of American liberalism reigned supreme. What began at the beginning of the 20th century as the “progressive movement” — an ideology that believed government control in some fashion was The Answer to the everyday lives of Americans — was now riding herd.
Politically, on the one-to-ten scale, Communism was at a thousand. Beginning with the Soviet Union, entire nations had succumbed to the idea of state control of everything, run by the famous Marxist dictum of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” In America, adherents to the driving principle of government control were spread out along the scale below, from socialists like Norman Thomas at a ten to progressives like FDR Vice President Henry Wallace at a nine and on down the line, ending with the weakest strain of the germ as exemplified by liberal Republicans like the New York Governors Thomas E. Dewey and Nelson Rockefeller.
The “progressive disease” was slowly and not so slowly infecting everything it touched — the culture, education, religion, commerce and so on. It was “mainstreamed” — and nowhere else were its believers more prominent than in the American media. As fate would have it, the media itself was undergoing a transformation — technology relentlessly pushing it along in a fashion that in fact had nothing to do with the politics of the participants. The power of newspapers, magazines and books was growing as printing and distribution technology blossomed. Radio, coming on the scene in the 1920s, was reaching what would be thought of as a peak, quickly giving way not just to television but to network television.
And in each and every case, these events were being shaped by believers who self-identified somewhere on that one-to-ten scale of “progressivism.” It was, literally, one giant food chain of intellectual thought, with respectability unquestioningly bestowed on just about everyone of any note who believed — which meant just about everyone of note. The country could trade political parties in the White House from Truman to Eisenhower, while putting up losing presidential nominees like Dewey or Democrat Adlai Stevenson. It could send its kids to college, buy bestselling books, go to church, turn the television channel from CBS to NBC to, later, ABC — and without missing a beat be on the receiving end of some forms of the progressive message.
In retrospect, the opening shot of the media counter-revolution to all of this was the 1951 publication of one book — God and Man at Yale — by a precocious William F. Buckley, Jr. The book took on the startled establishment of Yale, portrayed by alumni Buckley as progressive politicians in the guise of educators. The book was an instant bestseller, setting Buckley at 26 firmly on the road to a hugely successful life as a founding father of conservative media. The book was followed by Buckley’s establishment of National Review magazine in 1955.
The conservative counter-revolution in the American media was on.
There isn’t space to detail all that brought us to this moment. In brief — the known events of the Great Society, the 1960s cultural revolution, the comeback of AM radio, the rise of the Internet, cable and satellite TV, Fox News. What we can focus on here is the effect — how all of this has salted out in the biggest story of 2009. The coming of age of the Virtual Newsroom and its convergence with the conservative movement.
Imagine, if you will, the traditional newsroom as it dominated the once-great metropolitan daily newspapers of America. A vast acreage of desks, in the modern era, separated into cubicles. Somewhere is the glassed-in office of the editor, and somewhere else, usually not on the same floor, the clubby and comfortable quarters of the publisher.
Now take this image and virtualize it. Add in the names and faces, the specific tasks of each. Most importantly, understand that just as with the original, physical version of a newsroom, the relationship of one person to the other, one task to the other and each person and task to the whole is essential to the success of the entire virtual enterprise.
So let’s tour the Virtual Newsroom.
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