Refusing to engage the ideological enemy in popular media invites failure, argues Internet news entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart.
He's absolutely right to say that conservatives "can't win the political war until we take on the Hollywood and mainstream media battles."
Breitbart offered this reflection after running the gauntlet of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" (video available at Breitbart's Big Hollywood website) where he was tag-teamed by a liberal elitist host and a self-important pseudo-intellectual named Michael Eric Dyson.
"Pretty much everyone I respect in media and politics" warned him not to appear on the show, but he did and writes in today's Washington Times that he had the time of his life. Maher and Dyson worked hard to rough him up, but he left knowing he won the rigged bout "simply by showing up."
The payoff was immediate. After finishing the shoot, "I felt like I had gone 12 rounds with Mike Tyson and Roberto Duran. But when I got back to my dressing room, my BlackBerry was filling with messages from people I've never met, many of whom disagree with my politics but were compelled to praise my willingness to enter the lion's den."
One self-described liberal Democrat who emailed Breitbart wrote he was dismayed at the appalling treatment the conservative media figure received:
I felt that you were given very little meaningful ability to speak; when you requested evidence to back up the claims that were being made, you received none and when you were requested not to interrupt by Prof. Dyson (and politely heeded his request) you were then constantly interrupted. As a side note, I have watched the show for several years and have never witnessed the audience applause to be so intrusive and so obstructive to meaningful debate. I suspect that you don't care much about what occurred and likely anticipated it. I definitely care, not least because it has been my opinion that the ‘shouting down' tactics and lack of respect for evidence have been characteristics of the right more than the left in US politics in recent years. Overall, I still believe that, but what occurred on the show has given me much pause for thought. Please continue to engage in sincere debate with ideological opponents and please continue to exercise a higher standard of manners.
It's the tiny little leak in the proverbial dyke as Breitbart sees it, a modest step that lays the foundation for liberals to eventually see the error of their ways and move rightward. "We must plant seeds of doubt in the minds of the groupthink liberals in our dumbed-down and activist media culture," he writes.
Shying away from dealing with liberals in the media when leftists control both the White House and Congress is a recipe for disaster:
The problem with the withdrawal approach is that it cedes the popular culture debate to the other side. We figure talk radio, a certain cable news network and some independent Internet venues will allow for us to get our ideas out to the masses. Well, those few outlets are greatly outnumbered. They are also isolated and targeted for destruction by the activist left. The sitting president (using taxpayer money) is now leading the charge.
Again, he's right.
Matthew Sheffield and Noel Sheppard of NewsBusters made the same argument in "Inside the Disinformation Machine: A Look at the Left's New Media Operation,": (Foundation Watch, September 2008)
Conservatives and libertarians must take their activism to the web. They should participate in mainstream online communities like the video website YouTube, the open-source encyclopedia Wikipedia, and social bookmarking services such as Delicious (formerly del.icio.us) and StumbleUpon where readers share stories with other community members. These services offer a tremendous opportunity to present freedom and free markets to uncommitted voters and citizens.
We have only just begun to fight.
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