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Sunday, October 12, 2008


The Media Landscape and An Obama Administration
Today on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Paul Krugman echoed some concerns he recently addressed on his blog about the right's media apparatus and what it did during the Clinton administration and what is will certainly do during an Obama administration:
Something very ugly is taking shape on the political scene: as McCain’s chances fade, the crowds at his rallies are, by all accounts, increasingly gripped by insane rage. It’s not just a mob phenomenon — it’s visible in the right-wing media, and to some extent in the speeches of McCain and Palin.

We’ve seen this before. One thing that has been sort of written out of the mainstream history of politics is the sheer insanity of the attacks on the Clintons — they were drug smugglers, they murdered Vince Foster (and lots of other people), they were in league with foreign powers. And this stuff didn’t just show up in fringe publications — it was discussed in Congress, given props by the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, and so on.

What it came down to was that a significant fraction of the American population, backed by a lot of money and political influence, simply does not consider government by liberals (even very moderate liberals) legitimate.

I have addressed these matters on this blog. During the Clinton administration, there was an massive ratfucking campaign by deranged billionaires (namely Scaife, Moon, and Murdoch) who promoted paranoid conspiracy theories about the Clintons that paralleled those put forth by Lyndon LaRouche--namely that the Clintons were operating a drug smuggling operation and other criminal enterprises and the "Clinton Body Count," the view that Bill and Hillary eliminated dozens of political enemies as well as friends (such as Vince Foster) who "knew too much."

Those who promoted these hateful conspiracies included the Wall Street Journal's editorial page, Rush Limbaugh, now-head of the Fox News Channel Roger Ailes, the Reverend Jerry Falwell, and Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily (who at the headed a Scaife-subsidized front group The Western Journalism Center whose existence centered around legitimizing various Vince Foster conspiracy theories put forth by other Scaife-paid operatives).

One important consideration is that those who put forth these hate-filled and loony theories have not paid a price for their insane rantings. That won't be the case under an Obama administration; I'm more optimistic than Krugman. Expect the usual suspects to go by the playbook they did during the Clinton years. However, expect them to fail and pay a price. I'm not suggesting that there is parity between the right and left's media--the right still retains a huge advantage in promoting memes (e.g., the right's media successfully got the mainstream media to take the bait about the largely bogus ACORN voter fraud allegations). However, now we have sites like Media Matters for America, the Huffington Post (which serves as a sane counter to the Drudge Report), and there is the left's blogosphere. The right's media apparatus can't run roughshod over the truth as they had done in during the Clinton administration. It's not 1993 anymore and I suspect the right will learn this the hard way in 2009.

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