The Media’s Litmus Tests - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Media’s Litmus Tests

The media’s dissection of political arguments is primarily demagogic, turning not upon their intrinsic merits but upon whether or not they conform to “mainstream” expectations as defined by the media. Any position outside what it deems the mainstream is automatically invalid. In this mindless atmosphere, politics grows more and more narrow and dangerous. Objective reality becomes irrelevant to any discussion and politics is reduced to a chase for the latest poll and strategic deception.

In this atmosphere, even the mildest moments of conservative truth-telling become occasions for the media to hurl accusations of sexism, racism, and homophobia. Of course, the media’s definition of what’s mainstream is conveniently elastic. It would never declare Hillary Clinton’s support for late-term abortions “outside the mainstream.” Nor would it describe Democrats who now want the military to champion transgender soldiers extreme. But it will routinely describe even the most toothless Republicans as aliens to mainstream opinion.

According to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, the GOP presidential field is hopelessly retrograde: “Some of these guys talk like they think the base is wearing sheets, though I think they may have underestimated who the Republican voter is.” No matter how politically correct the GOP becomes, these comments from the media keep coming. The line of what constitutes unacceptable conservatism moves ever leftward.

The last time the GOP won the presidency its candidate favored a constitutional amendment against gay marriage. Now its candidates merely offer quiet support for states to decide the issue, the position John Kerry supported, and they are dismissed by the media as disturbingly out of touch.

Chief among the media’s concerns is cowing the GOP into total submission on cherished social issues and the skittish GOP appears ready to oblige. Jorge Ramos on the Fusion television channel recently wanted to know of Marco Rubio if he would attend a gay wedding of a friend or relative. Rubio supplied him with the politically correct answer he wanted to hear: “If it’s somebody in my life that I care for, of course I would…I’m not going to hurt them simply because I disagree with a choice they’ve made or because I disagree with a decision they’ve made, or whatever it may be.” Other possible candidates have given similar answers to the question, which has simply occasioned more media ridicule, seen in such headlines as “Republican Contortions on Gay Weddings” and “Republican Candidates Say They’d Attend Marriages They Oppose.”

The premise of the media’s litmus test here is that non-attendance is tantamount to hatred, a premise authentic conservatives would never concede. Christianity holds that true charity is marked not by celebrating sin but by opposing it. By accepting the media’s premise, the GOP is making it very easy for the left to cast non-service at a gay wedding as hateful discrimination and paving the way for the marginalization of churches that refuse gay weddings.

In time, the media’s litmus test will change to: Will you continue to attend a church that “refuses to marry your gay family members and friends”?

It is surprising that Ramos didn’t use Rubio’s answer to undermine his defense a few weeks ago of florists, bakers, and photographers who don’t want to participate in affronts to God. After all, Ramos might have argued, if declining an invitation to a gay wedding constitutes “hurting” someone and one can both oppose the ceremony and participate in the celebration of it, then why can’t the state impose gay-marriage service on those business owners?

The GOP should be challenging the media’s demagogic rhetoric and gotcha games, not caving to them. It should turn the tables on the media, as Rand Paul recently did when he silenced a pestering reporter by saying, “Why don’t you ask the DNC, ‘Is it OK to kill a seven-pound baby in the uterus?’” The GOP assumes that such capitulations will improve its political fortunes, even though every time it runs a candidate who chooses political correctness over conservatism it loses.

The larger consequence of letting the media dictate policy according to whatever hews to its definition of “mainstream” opinion is that America becomes less and less a republic and more and more of a mob. The Constitution turns into nothing more than a blank piece of paper on which manipulative elites can write whatever they want and laws meant to protect God-given rights are twisted into justifications for invented ones. Without at least one party telling the truth, America will descend into complete delusion.

George Neumayr
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George Neumayr, a senior editor at The American Spectator, is author most recently of The Biden Deception: Moderate, Opportunist, or the Democrats' Crypto-Socialist?
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