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Liberal Talk
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TAPPED OUT: In a recent item item posted on the American Prospect Online‘s new “Tapped” department, I am called “an alert Tapped reader,” all because I pointed out, contrary to something it had posted, that Bill Simon isn’t behind in most California polls. As it happens, my alertness doesn’t stop there. I’m still taken, for instance, by this example of the Tapped mind in action. On Tuesday it questioned InstaPundit‘s anger at the world’s “continued feteing of (Yassir) Arafat as a legitimately elected leader,” by noting: “but the U.S. does the same thing for the same reason: Necessity. Ever heard of a guy named Pervez Musharraf? He’s ‘president’ of Pakistan.” Yes, we’ve all heard of him, and we’ve heard nothing from him that would suggest he’s a world-class terrorist. In fact, we’ve heard from him utterances that in most Islamic polities would result in lynching on the spot. Keep it up, Tapped, and you’ll give Musharraf every incentive to move in Arafat’s direction instead. If an anti-Israeli world-class terrorist can retain as much legitimacy as a pro-American military dictator, why shouldn’t he take the easy way out? P.S. Tapped: Ever heard of Slobodan Milosevic? He was “president” of Yugoslavia, until the world decided no longer to fete him.

SNOOT RADIO: The Media Research Center nails NBC news for its report the other night on Bill O’Reilly’s new radio show, particularly the part in which Lisa Myers concluded: “Where others see shades of gray, O’Reilly and Limbaugh mostly portray the world as black and white.” This in keeping with the liberal caricature of talk radio as reflecting the simplistic worldview of its powerful hosts, “whose views range from conservative to more conservative,” as Myers put it.

It’s worth noting that NBC’s coverage was merely echoing a report on O’Reilly in that morning’s Washington Post, which argued: “The biggest names in political-talk radio — and increasingly, political-talk TV — tend to run the ideological gamut from conservative to . . . very conservative.” But more interesting was this concession: “Liberals and moderates, it seems, can’t or don’t attract much of a crowd.” When it comes to talk media, the Post asks, “where have all the liberals gone?”

Good question. Surely there are many local liberal shows. Every time I’m in California I can’t help but catch some true-blue lefty shows emanating from spots like San Francisco or even Monterey. And these don’t necessarily come from some NPR or Pacifica station. In southern California, isn’t Gloria Allred as much a fixture as Hugh Hewitt? But the question seems to be: Why can’t liberals cut it nationally? Mario Cuomo tried. Jim Hightower is famous for the same reason. Now Phil Donahue supposedly is coming back. For an answer, the Post‘s relies on O’Reilly himself, thus confirming why it’s useful for nonconservatives to label O’Reilly conservative:

“Conservative people tend to see the world in black and white terms, good and evil,” says O’Reilly in an interview. “Liberals see grays. In any talk format, you have to pound home a strong point of view. If you’re not providing controversy and excitement, people won’t listen, or watch.”

Besides, he adds, dangling new bait, “[National Public Radio] is all left, top to bottom. That’s where the left goes….They listen to Diane Rehm.”

Music to a liberal journalist’s heart: liberals are nuanced, conservatives simple-minded. Diane Rehm plays right along, telling the Post, “If a liberal is a talk radio host who represents more than just one view, then I am indeed a liberal.” That’s what we thought back in the good old days, whenever Rehm allowed her show also to represent Hillary Clinton’s view, in furtherance of some latest bit of Clinton justice obstructing.

Libs can console themselves all they want that it’s their spiritual and intellectual superiority that makes them unable to compete in the talk media circuit. (Anyone who’s spent more than two seconds listening to Paul Begala spew might wonder about their claim to nuance.) In any case, they’re not really competing. Talk media thrives in opposition. Not to whatever party is in power, but to the way news about that party is reported. Jennings and Rather and the Times-Postwill put it one way, when the talk audience knows there has to be a better way.

Still, it bothers liberals greatly that somewhere, somehow, conservatives clearly enjoy the upper hand. Of course, if they weren’t who they are, liberals would feel less aggrieved. Perhaps then they’d understand that life comes with tradeoffs. Think yourself morally and intellectually superior, chances are you’ll come across as snooty and elitist. Can a liberal host really connect with a typical talk show audience? You sense not, not if he thinks it’s made up mostly of insecure middle-aged white males or their unliberated white wives, the very sort of people who deserve no help from the liberal state. Can a liberal host laugh at himself? Can he laugh, period? Probably not, not so long as he’s required to bleed along with the victims of conservative policies.

As always in these discussions, Rush Limbaugh has the last word, though even he might not know about it. His power is such, that on CNN’s website, at the beginning of every one of that network’s talk show transcripts, readers are told: “THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.” One more slap across a suffering liberal’s face.

BROCK BOYCOTT: But to give credit where credit is due, CNN’s transcript service is indispensable, quick, and entirely free! (Fox should catch on.) For Brock watchers, the one from last Saturday’s Reliable Sources is worth noting for two reasons. One stray remark from him that his next book, if there is a next book, won’t be a “confessional,” was enough to cause the very liberally biased Romenesko MediaNews.org site to link to it — thus confirming once again the conservative case against that site. More interesting is a question asked Brock by host Howard Kurtz: “You were very tough in this book on your former conservative friends, and yet almost no one in the right is talking about the book….why do you think that is?” In his reply Brock blamed it all on “a well-orchestrated campaign on the right to say nothing about the book.” As it happens, in its May issue, Commentary magazine, a leading conservative publication, does carry a review, one that should have been brought to Kurtz’s attention. In fact, given the particularly ugly shots Brock in his book takes at principal figures connected to Commentary, the surprise is that the review is as polite as it is. It could have made for some interesting discussion. Now if only the magazine had treated Alfred Kazin as nicely a few years back. But, then, Kazin was a major figure.

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