Bozell Column: The Old Media and The New Sheriffs
Once again, we’ve reached a government shutdown over irresponsible government spending. Once more, the media are proclaiming the world is coming to an end and blaming conservative Republicans for everything. They are working hand in glove with the Never Enough Government lobby that dominates Washington, without a shred of shame.
Anchors and editors continue to insist that if the GOP were smart, it would bow to “conventional wisdom” and put its foot on the fiscal accelerator. That’s what this is about. The elites fully expected Republicans “led” by McConnell and Boehner to fold, and are stunned – furious, really – that they are being disobeyed.
There are new sheriffs in Washington who won’t be intimidated and are willing to fight this Wild West of government excess. Their names include Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul.
In politics, there are four levels of response to political insurgency: Ignore, ridicule, savage, accept. We are at Stage Two, moving toward Stage Three. TV reporters treat them as comic figures. ABC’s Jon Karl took the marathon Cruz speech and fast-forwarded it in mockery, declaring "The absurdities were on display when Tea Party hero Ted Cruz gave his 20 hour-plus speech demanding an end to ObamaCare in exchange for funding the government. Bedtime story included." This because Cruz read a Dr. Seuss story to his children over the TV since he wasn’t coming home.
Then Karl showed a mocking clip from liberal comedian Jon Stewart, reading from a fake book called “The Bore-ax” that Cruz was the “showboatiest blab” in the “Senate of snooze.”
Ridicule, however, won’t suffice on the budget battles. This is where distortions and negative attacks come in. Seven months ago, reporters reflexively launched into complete Panic Mode to push Obama’s theme on the sequester. ABC morning anchor Josh Elliott warned “massive government cuts go into effect that could impact every American: jobs vaporizing, flights delayed, even criminals walking free.” ABC reporter David Kerley said “It sounds like a disaster movie!”
None of that happened. None of it. Who is the fool now? ABC reporters really deserve to be put in fast-forward video, followed by a Jon Stewart joke about blabby showboating.
Reporters’ respect for the viewers of TV news is so low that they simply ignore disturbing little facts like the enormous size of our deficits, or even the size of the annual federal budget in trillions. That is immaterial, somehow. They are allergic to words like “trillion.” ABC saves it for stories like this: “Beer is a $100 billion industry in this country, selling over six trillion gallons per year.”
We are going broke. So how is that being covered? On ABC over the last three months, the word “deficit” came up exactly once on their morning and evening newscasts, with George Stephanopoulos simply saying on a Sunday edition of “Good Morning America” that Obama planned on a “deficit deal” in the fall. These same shows addressed “attention deficit disorder” three times. But they have their journalistic priorities. ABC “News” did address the word “twerking” 15 times over the last month after the Miley Cyrus dancing debacle at the MTV Video Music Awards.
A political junkie could have more respect for network news if they made any attempt to demonstrate a seriousness of purpose. If these stories were filled with policy substance, and explained how the budgeting process has broken down, then their usual tilt toward the Democrats wouldn’t be as atrocious. Their usual weapon of choice is the “spending cut victim” story that rages against “heartless” attempts to rein in spending growth.
They aren’t really doing stories about the budget. They’re doing stories loaded with soundbite duels, assessing which party (which is to say, the one that starts with an R) is going to suffer for refusing to bend. They’re not filing stories about how Obamacare is failing, when the unions are scratching their way out and UPS is dropping coverage to 15,000 spouses and IBM is ousting 110,000 retirees from its health insurance program at the end of the year. What’s the fun in substance?
The new Republicans in town are showing Ronald Reagan’s willingness to upset the media apple carts. They are – correctly – ignoring the pleas from Washington elites to get along with the media. Reagan dragged journalists along, kicking and screaming, while his policies led to an historic economic recovery and a collapsing Soviet empire. It will work for the Tea Party stalwarts in keeping this country from sinking further into staggering debt and statist misery.