NewsBusters Book Review: 'Crashing the Gate'

April 3rd, 2006 12:14 PM
When a conservative book comes out, the author usually spends some time talking about the media. The NewsBusters Book Review will provide excerpts from these passages and/or interview authors to learn what they think of the media and explain what they wrote.

But today's is a liberal book, co-written by the founder of Daily Kos.

"Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of the People-Powered Politics" is about how liberals should use blogs to win electoral victories. Written by founder Jerome Armstrong and founder Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, the book says that political consultants charge too much and that campaigns and fundraising should be managed by blogs.

Although Daily Kos does not have much of a track record for electoral success, we are going to look at the book's media commentary.

It's surprising to learn that Ann Coulter admits conservatives now control the media and that Free Republic is a "web publication." It also should be news that "conservative talk radio stagnates" while Air America Radio flourishes.

Here is a five-paragraph excerpt from "Crashing the Gate":

There's no doubt, as our personal experience demonstrated vividly, that the Right dominates the media. Arbitron ratings put Rush Limbaugh's radio audience at twenty million listeners a week. Conservatives dominate cable news, with an overtly partisan network in Fox News Channel, and a slate of on-air right-wing personalities on MSNBC and CNBC that far outnumber their centrist and liberal counterparts. The Sunday morning talk shows are stacked by conservative voices, as regularly reported by the media watchdog group Media Matters for America.

Cries of "liberal media" ring increasingly hollow, to the point that even the odious Ann Coulter admitted on Sean Hannity's show that "we have the media now." The Right has overtly partisan outfits like the Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal's editorial board, Pat Robertson's 700 Club, Eagle Publishing, and a network of hyper-partisan web publications like NewsMax and Free Republic. The conservative propaganda machine even includes allowing their ilk into hollowed journalistic ground, such as the White Houses briefing room. While supposedly limited to reporters from major news organizations, the Bush White House allowed gay sex escort Jim Guckert--masquerading as a "reporter" for a conservative news organization hilariously called "Talon News"--to cover news conferences without the requisite FBI background checks. In fact, his press credentials listed a fake name--Jeff Gannon. No official explanation has been given for how Guckert managed to acquire credentials.

At the beginning of this decade, the liberal media landscape was bleak. Even so-called liberal editorial boards at the Washington Post and the New York Times were infected with war fever, eagerly cheering Bush's unwarranted invasion of Iraq and looking the other way when it came to the spectacular mismanagement of the budget and the economy. In fact, one of the few bright spots was the liberal blogosphere, then a speck of dust in a hostile media landscape.

But the blogs grew at astronomical rates. Daily Kos, the largest political blog in the world, has been growing steadily at a clip of 5 to 10 percent every week, and by fall 2005 was getting over a million visits every day--more than the top fifty conservative blogs combined. The rest of the progressive blogosphere has been no slouch either, far outpacing the growth of its conservative foes.

We have also started growing liberal radio after the upstart Air America and Democracy Radio networks made a mockery of radio behemoth Clear Channel's assertions that talk radio would never work. Now, the conservative, publicly traded company is adding liberal talk radio across its nationwide network of stations as a growth niche while conservative talk radio stagnates. Liberal talk show hot Ed Schultz of North Dakota has grown to over one hundred markets in just a year. And while television is still no-man's land for liberals, at least one venture fund has sprung up to bring overtly liberal programming to cable and even broadcast television.