Washington Post reporter Kevin Merida writes in the Sunday Style section about an idea he finds odd: why would conservatives feel embattled when they have so much control in Washington? (First question: Kevin, did you read the front page? Have you read the media at all from, say, Camp Cindy or Hurricane Katrina forward?) Merida begins by being stunned at the conservative "beat-down" of Harriet Miers, and visits the American Spectator's annual dinner. "One might presume there would be more celebration over the accumulation of power." In mid-article, he offers new evidence, the MRC's annual Dishonor Awards banquet:
Each year the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, hosts its DisHonor Awards, a humorously vicious night of "liberal-media" bashing. The awards program unfolds like the Oscars, except the winners -- network correspondents, commentators, newspaper journalists -- are not there to accept their, um, prizes. Instead, a parade of conservatives truck to the podium to accept the "awards." They serve up savage jokes about those responsible for the allegedly biased reports on subjects ranging from the president to Cuba to some hero of the right. It is all in the name of yuks, a feel-good event for the faithful, recharging them for battle.
But battle against whom? ABC News? Do the faithful really crave validation from the media outlets they seem to loathe? There is often an odd, defensive character to these evenings, typically officiated by conservatives who are themselves bestselling authors and big-time pundits -- folks such as Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter. At these award galas, one would never get the impression that there are more than 4,000 conservative radio talk show hosts, if Craig Shirley's database is any guide, who can be easily tapped by conservative activists. There is Fox New Channel, king of cable news and awfully friendly to conservatives. There is a thriving conservative book publishing business, the emergence of state-based conservative think tanks and the growth of conservative churches -- all vehicles to promote the conservative message. Not to mention that the political levers in Washington are firmly in Republican hands.
But psychically, it's important to have a target to stoke the troops' anger. Often that target is the mainstream media, and sometimes that target is one of your own.
It's certainly debatable where Miers qualified as "one of our own," conservative-wise. But it's not at all strange to identify ABC News or other national media outlets as the adversary of conservatives. MRC is not out for craved "validation." It's out to expose liberal media bias. And Merida is only underlining it. Does he really think the left doesn't see itself as left-wingers first, Democrats second?