Media Matters

Fahrenheit 411

The big media moguls wanted Campaign Finance. They got it. Now they’re finished.

By 9.29.04

Send to Kindle

N. MIAMI BEACH -- Ouch, a real live conspiracy. Indeed if Bertie Wooster said "I fancy that the campaign blokes are mixing it up with the tabloid chaps", Jeeves would have one sure response: "Rather."

Now, I am a confirmed hater of Conspiracy Theory. No, not the movie in which Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts passionately cross paths. I mean the whole black-helicopter Rockefeller Rothschild Bildesberger Zionist-Occupied-Government new-world-order fever swamps of militant paranoia. I so resist stipulating facts not in evidence that I devote my spare time to finding Nicole Simpson's real killer.

But even paranoids have enemies, even beekeepers get hives, even roofers get shingles, and even a skeptic can have an epiphany. The triple play combo of Burkett to Mapes to Lockhart to Rather did some fancy footwork but fell short on the legwork. We all know BS when we C it. It's as plain as the nose on Jane Pauley's face (and why is she making the true dough?), a conspiracy of the meatier variety.

And who is responsible? Simple. It's the CFR. The Council for Foreign Relations? Oh, no. Those guys are more chuckle factory than wily wonks. I'm talking about Campaign Finance Reform. Sometimes what goes around comes around right in the first go-round.

The McCain-Feingold Bill, signed into law by President Bush in some convoluted reverse psychology strategy, places all sorts of limitations on campaign adverts, advertently shrinking the power of media buyers. This in turn creates a vacuum which is automatically filled by the media owners. And that tells you all you need to know about the media's unabashed backing of the unconstitutional McCain-Feingold, rendering it so popular that the President feared that if he would veto he would be finito.

So now here we are, the very first Presidential contest under the new regime, and the media moguls are gleefully rubbing their hands, anticipating the coronation of their guy. And what a guy! Yale vs. Yale, which we can sell as smart Yale vs. dumb Yale. Skull and Bones vs. Skull and Bones; we make it nice club guy vs. snotty club guy. Lib vs. Con, been there done that, that's boring, but what puts our guy over the top is War Hero vs. City Slacker.

And so there we were, on the brink, the cusp, the precipice, ushering in the new era. A new age of government of the media, by the media, for the media. (Better than Clinton's "of the peephole, by the peephole, for the peephole.") All it lacked was a portentous piece of foolscap to wave in front of the camera and Bush would wear the fool's cap. The media monopoly would hold him to just four, taking him from Pennsylvania Avenue to Luxury Tax, stuck between Park Place and Boardwalk.

It should have worked. It could have worked. Years ago, their musty documents would have passed whatever muster an incurious print media would demand. But here is where irony meddled with their filings.

BECAUSE YOU SEE, they were right, nature abhors a vacuum, and killing the ads left a vacuum which they were standing by to fill. But they forgot a basic principle of both economics and physics. Namely, that the space left open is a magnet for new entrepreneurs in business, new predators in biology, new forces in physics. And it is very difficult to predict the character of the newly arriving players.

Close down a crack house, you may get a brothel. If you didn't like the smells from the Thai restaurant, wait until the Pakistani cuisine comes instead. Divorce your spendthrift wife and get three high-maintenance girlfriends. Banish the cat for messing on the rug and get a family of mice. And how about the guy who solves his midlife crisis with a motorcycle and winds up a paraplegic?

So sure enough the ads are shrinking and the old media is standing by to spread their wings but, lo and behold, all that lebensraum got sucked up by a new media. (To all the purists who think "a media" is incorrect, go dangle a participle and let us have our fun.) And these guys do their homework. Drudge will do the drudgery. The bloggers are loggers, too, doing the heavy lifting of tedious research. One CBS guy complained about being critiqued by "guys in pyjamas"; the mantle of journalism is now available in wool for $2499 or in flannel for $24.99.

As Mrs. Mantis told the late Mr. Mantis, beware of what you prey for. How deliciously ironic that the network guys who could outshout P. J. O'Rourke get upstaged by the PJ guys. They forged a tale to put Bush in the dock, and now they are being chased through the bush for their forged docs. Rather and company thought that by pushing McCain-Feingold they would succeed in air piracy, instead they are caught promoting cons. Outraged they shout: "It's a conspiracy!"

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article
About the Author

Jay D. Homnick, commentator and humorist, is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator.