The Spectacle Blog

Conservatives Against Journalism

By on 6.26.10 | 3:23AM

"A journalist is a wild animal with an appetite for conservative meat and should be interacted with that way -- always."
-- Melissa Clouthier, Liberty Pundits

Thus does one conservative blogger express a sentiment that bids fair to destroy the movement she desires to advance.

Having been told for so long that "the media" are the enemy, conservatives have become hostile to journalism as a profession.

One of the reasons why there are so few conservatives in America's newsrooms is because the profession of journalism is relentlessly derided by those who claim to speak for the conservative cause. No kid who grew up listening to talk radio could possibly believe that becoming a reporter is a worthy ambition. (To be a talking-head pundit on cable TV, yes; to be a mere reporter, no.) And this blanket condemnation of journalism qua journalism is sufficiently broad enough to encompass . . . well, me.

How many times have I gone to political events and seen Republican Party operatives tighten up and mind their words, speaking only in scripted talking points, when they learn that I am a reporter? Even when I assure them that I'm a conservative and I'm not there to play "gotcha," the instinctive Republican dread of journalists is such that all reporters are automatically viewed as dangerous.

Well, there are indeed such things as conservative journalists, but it is a corollary of the anti-journalism worldview of Republicans that conservative journalists are judged not by their skill -- the accuracy of their reporting, the readability of their prose, etc. -- but by how useful they are in the service of advancing GOP political objectives. Republicans treat conservative journalists with a special disdain, as mere errand boys or stenographers whose job it is to spread the GOP message.

Although most journalists are indeed liberal, all journalists prefer to think of themselves as independent-minded and fair, their primary allegiance being to report the truth. And this self-concept is in direct conflict with the stenographic role that Republicans consider appropriate to conservative journalists. So when a conservative journalist discerns an objective fact that doesn't fit the GOP script, he finds himself in a conflict between his professional self-concept and his prescribed task as partisan publicist.

Consider the National Republican Senatorial Committee's premature endorsement of Charlie Crist in the Senate primary in Florida. It is an objective fact that this move was a spectacular blunder, one which called into question the basic political competence of NRSC chairman John Cornyn and his advisors. And I should add that the NRSC's campaign counterpart on the House side, the National Republican Congressional Committee, hasn't exactly covered itself in glory of late.

Who will report these facts? If conservative journalists are expected to be publicity agents for Team GOP, and if Team GOP is being run into the ditch by the party bosses, where is there any chance for the kind of sunlight-as-disinfectant reporting that might prevent the imminent debacle?

But hey, don't pay any attention to me. I'm just a "wild animal."

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