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February 14, 2011

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Michael Halperin ?

maybe Mark Halperin ?

WEll, that's depressing.

Where do we go from here? Why just continue our imperial decline of course.

Let me just point out the gross ignorance of basic high school civics on the part of the editors of the New York Times in its editorial on DOMA today. For an explanation of what I'm talking about, see this from Noah Kaplan from the Harvard Civil Rights - Civil Liberties Law Review.

Mark Halperin. But I can't corret it in the text.

JE: I'll give it a shot.

“shape of the earth: opinions differ”

True. The completely ignorant believe the earth to be "round" (whatever that means), while the hopelessly stupid believe the Earth to be an oblate ellipsoid. It's only the marginally intelligent (and above) who are aware that the shape of the Earth is constantly in flux, and therefore not capturable by any kind of static expression.

You'll notice I haven't factored in flat-earthers. That's just to let people have something to argue about.

I can't corret it in the text.

Your self-referential kung-fu is obviously a winner, here.

That was a great post. Thank you.

This: "Eight years ago I thought the internet would change things. ...."

I never believed this. I think the internet has enabled vast amounts of stupid, except here at OBWI (I half kid) where no one counts.

The dynamic between old media and the internet perplexes me. More informed folks of left and right, but even more just plain stupid ones.

But like John Boehner, who am I (Mr. Elitey Pants) to judge.

But I think porn and Redstate have something to do with it.

Also: "Donald Graham, recently replaced by Talking Heads niece Weymouth,"

Wait, what? Oh, O.K... Talking Heads' and Tom Tom Club's Tina Weymouth's niece, whatever her name is..

Got it. Tina is married to Talking Heads' and Tom Tom Club's drummer Chris Frantz, with whom I graduated from the same high school. The last time I saw him, he was decked out in red and white and playing the trombone for the Fox Chapel High School marching band.

Again, great post.

The Internet changed everything.

Now many people have jobs making sure we can all talk to each other all of the time about everything in varying character length length message types.

So now we know that almost no one can type and I can't spell.

Oh, and we can play Farmville when there is no one to talk to, so we can meet some more people.

If you're into malicious gossip, Lally Weymouth (Tina's s-i-l and the present publisher's mom) is a gold mine.

Since liberals and Democrats have not bothered to learn the think tank game, this creates a rightward trend in news coverage.

Eh, what? What about CAP? Or EPI? Or the Urban Institute? Or the Roosevelt Institute?

Also, I think you've missed one vital fact that explains a lot about the media: the newspaper-reading and tv-viewing demographic skews old. Very old. Old people tend to be more conservative than younger people. I believe the age of the median newspaper subscriber is increasing by more than one year every year. The age of the median Bill O'Reilly viewer is over 71. If your audience is old and declining, you're going to reflect conservative politics because that's what your audience expects/demands and since it is declining, you're terrified of losing them.

Turbulence: Fine, that's four names. Liberals and Democrats have been doing a piss-poor job at the think-tank game, and they've been losing overwhelmingly. Those are junior players.

Ambient political opinion isn't just old people and isn't just TV and print. It includes AM and FM radio. What you say may be a factor but it wouldn't have the importance it does if only the old were influenced.

It's true, though that old people are more likely to vote, and as a rule they have more $$$ so advertisers court them.

Turbulence: Fine, that's four names. Liberals and Democrats have been doing a piss-poor job at the think-tank game, and they've been losing overwhelmingly. Those are junior players.

How do we know that's true? Is there some metric you have in mind?

I mean, if you want to argue that Cato has a bigger budget than the 4 think tanks I listed combined, that might work, but are you even arguing that?

It doesn't strike me as controversial. Cato, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute all have a much greater presence than any of those, and probably each of them has more presence than all four put together. Furthermore, conservative think tanks are both research organizations and media organizations spreading the word.

I don't think that it would be hard to document that, but I'm not going to do it. If you want to think otherwise, go ahead.

Great stuff. However, mentioning Brad DeLong's name is interesting in this context. My impression is that he's caught a lot of flak for his political beliefs from the left flank. In fact, there's several people who often get held up as part of the problem who seem to be unabashedly on the left side. Over at Balloon Juice, they are talking about the Atlantic stable, which is pretty much an Augean stable, but tossing Yglesias in with the usual suspects. Admittedly, the topic is the Iraq war, which can focus disagreements, but still, a thing that the internet is never going to change is the left's tendency to splinter. On the other hand, one could argue that if you make certain mistakes in judgement, it should bring in to question your judgements like. forever.

A observation that may only be related in my mind, I noticed this CNN piece with Bob Greene's byline and I thought WTF? Cause Bob Greene could be a poster boy for mistakes in judgement. However, with the skill set and connections he has, there is probably not a lot else he can do.

The piece pivots on the fact that he watched this movie and thought 'wow, the Jeff Greene character reminds me of Don Meredith' and, dictu mirabilis, it was written by Don Meredith's son! But, knowing who the writer is, excuse me for being just a bit skeptical.

At any rate, great post. Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go exploring your media empire, though I sadly note that the idiocentrism links are down.

I used to be a regular commenter at DeLong's, and we developed a respectful relationship, which is something I rarely have with centrists. He has very broad interests for an economist and is somewhat receptive to contrary points of view. I was one of the ones pressuring him from the left (Robert Waldmann and Daniel Davies are / were a more competent critics). However, I don't know if he's ever changed his mind much on anything fundamental.

I ended up getting tired of his "Why Oh Why Don't We Have a Better Media" schtick. There are lots of reasons, and at some point you have to stop being surprised. And this is weighty, because I think that in the present state of affairs we're doomed.

Yes, I saw you there and at Crooked Timber quite a bit. Then something happened with DeLong's blog RSS feed or with something over here, and I couldn't get it and it was out of sight, out of mind. So it was a bit of a surprise to see you cite him in the same phrase with Greenwald (do you view him as a centrist?)

I've always thought that the 'why oh why' schtick is less DeLong being surprised, and more like a folksonomy, allowing him to tag examples. Perhaps it is meaningless to count those particular grains of sand, but if someone wanders into the discussion, it's nice to be able to point to specific examples.

I should also add that I find reading DeLong regularly is depressing from a personal viewpoint, because he is often posting things for his classes, which makes me feel like a really lazy slug.

DeLong and Greenwald were just two of many media critics. Greenwald was especially important because of his dispute with Chuck Todd, but DeLong could have been replaced with Bob Somerby or Atrios or Dean Baker or Digby or any of a number other internet media critics. All pretty much unpersons to the media elite, even though they're smarter, more accurate, and more analytical then much of the elite.

More generally, I think the collapse of "the media" (as opposed to the collapse of the media, who are doing quite well thank you) comes down to the hypercapitalist drive to monetize everything. Rather than having a media who learned from education and professional practice that they had a duty, as journalists, that went beyond dollars- altho individual journalists may keep this feeling, the profession (as represented by those who are successful at it) doesn't. Nor do the corporations who engage in it.
Once it became all about dollars, there was little hope of having a media that would choose to act as a genuine arbiter of the national debate, that would call lies out or take a principled stand on something. There is no money in that. Or rather, there is less money in that than in shallow sensationalism.
I think the rest follows from that: why struggle to keep the Overton window from being yanked around? Why engage in anything beyond she said-he said? Why not give an op-ed column to a provable dingbat and liar, if this produces more ad sales?

Yeah, over at DeLong's I used to say from time to time that the information market is not conducive to democracy. Even the nice economists have a weakness for thinking that all human activities should ideally be organized on market principles.

It doesn't strike me as controversial.

That's nice. Adorable really.

Since you're new here, let me explain a bit of the local culture. Lots of crazy things strike people as non-controversial so, the mere fact that something strikes you as plausible isn't really sufficient to convince me of anything. Especially since I have no idea who you are, whether you believe absurd things, etc. As a result, it is customary on OW for commenters to ask for cites for non-obvious claims and for posters to provide them when asked. If you want to back out of making your original claim, that's fine too. But just shrugging your shoulders, reiterating the claim, and defiantly refusing to cite any evidence is...in poor taste. It makes you look like someone who is enamored with the sound of your own voice rather than someone who has serious arguments to make.

Cato, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute all have a much greater presence than any of those, and probably each of them has more presence than all four put together.

This might be true. Or it might be garbage. I can't tell. You've supplied no evidence, which makes me suspect that it is just garbage. I don't know why you'd waste our time by writing stuff for which no evidence exists.

I don't think that it would be hard to document that, but I'm not going to do it. If you want to think otherwise, go ahead.

I'm not the one making a claim about the world. You are. As such, it is your job to marshal evidence to support that claim. It is not my job. Because I'm not making a claim.

Didn't Gary explain any of this to you?

More generally, I think the collapse of "the media" (as opposed to the collapse of the media, who are doing quite well thank you) comes down to the hypercapitalist drive to monetize everything. Rather than having a media who learned from education and professional practice that they had a duty, as journalists, that went beyond dollars- altho individual journalists may keep this feeling, the profession (as represented by those who are successful at it) doesn't. Nor do the corporations who engage in it.

Was there some time in the recent past when the media were not trying to monetize everything? The profit motive isn't exactly a recent invention....

When the NYT used to just fabricate stories about the Clintons, was that before or after journalists forgot they had a duty? And when the media basically ignored our Central American death squads or when Leslie Stahl covered up the fact that Reagan was senile, was that also due to hyper capitalism?

No, I don't know the local culture here. You might notice that I made a very, very large number of undocumented bald assertions in my piece, which is a summary of what I've figured out over the course of the last eight years. Why you chose to zero in on this particular one, one of the least controversial of them all as far as I am concerned, I have no idea. I was actually hoping for a little argument here, but this point isn't very interesting thing to argue about.

Apparently you have no knowledge or interest in the point in question and never have thought about it before. It's something that slaps people interested in the question in the face over and over again.

Or rather: Link

Apparently you have no knowledge or interest in the point in question and never have thought about it before. It's something that slaps people interested in the question in the face over and over again.

I don't think that fabricating statements about me is going to help you here. You don't actually know what subjects I have knowledge or interest in, so when you pretend that you do, you just look silly. Please.

I don't see any evidence indicating that conservative "dominance" of think tanks is a significant factor in explaining media behavior. And I definitely don't see any indication that this belief is universally held by media critics. Despite reading media criticism by Delong, Greenwald, Digby and others for years.

You cannot assume that just because something is obvious to you that it is widely believed. Or necessarily true.

That's nice. Adorable really.

I can't imagine a context in which this kind of comment might be appropriate, or conducive to further conversation that doesn't stray far outside the posting rules.

There are other, more effective ways to make your point, Turbulence.

I guess I was making erroneous assumptions about the baseline of knowledge which could be expected at this place.

Ah, thanks for providing a cite.

Unfortunately, I don't think the cite is relevant. The cite indicates that media tend to cite conservative think tank reports more than centrist or liberal think tank reports. But your original claim was "since liberals and Democrats have not bothered to learn the think tank game, this creates a rightward trend in news coverage" -- your cite doesn't tell us anything about causality. It just tells us that the media is biased towards conservatives when reporting on think tank research.

So, thanks for trying, but your claim is still not supported.

Oh, go f*ck yourself. This is not the place for me.

Slarti, you're right, it wasn't very helpful.

John, my apologies.

I guess I was making erroneous assumptions about the baseline of knowledge which could be expected at this place.

You cited a document that was irrelevant to your original claim. I don't think you are in a position to be commenting on the baseline of knowledge that anyone else has.

We have a really big internet. There are tons of blogs where people spout off whatever random thoughts come into their head, and no one bothers with evidence or other such irritants. Since this 'evidence' thing is perhaps too difficult for you, perhaps you'd be happier on one of those blogs?

Yes, Turbulence. You have stunk me out.

Goodbye, all. There may be people in the world able to communicate fruitfully with Turbulence here, but I am not one of them, and apparently he's in charge of the local culture. It might have been nice.

Jeez, you guys.

I hope John Emerson does not leave.

Ambient opinion is what people think when they’re not paying attention, and outside the universities and some urban neighborhoods, the right wing has firm control of ambient political opinion. If you pick your opinions out of the air (from the free broadcast media), your opinions will be conservative.

IMO this is overstated. Or at least, in my experience this is overstated.

There are lots of areas, and demographics, outside of universities and urban centers where either the predominant, or at least a very significant, political weather is liberal-ish. Not really left, but definitely not conservative.

Regarding free broadcast media, you're also excluding NPR, which is a strong competitor to right-wing radio. NPR takes a lot of (sometimes deserved) knocks for being "Nice Polite Republicans", but realistically their perspective is sorta-liberal centrism. They are an effective counter to yahoos like Rush and Hannity.

Also, if I may, and FWIW, if you want to hang, you might want to grow a little thicker skin. Nobody's picking on you, Turb just asked to see something more than an assertion.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

The Overton Window doesn't just move in one direction.

They are an effective counter to yahoos like Rush and Hannity.

They are completely ineffective, speaking to a different demographic not tempted by Rush or Hannity.

The Overton Window doesn't just move in one direction.

That simply restates the problem. In view of the negative factors I've given, How do we move the Overton Window?

I guess I was making erroneous assumptions about the baseline of knowledge which could be expected at this place.

You made assumptions about the *culture*. I agree with your position, based on what Ive read, but one of the things that makes this place work (to the extent that it does, in fact, work) as a crossroads for different opinions is IMO that people are often asked to back up what they say. Because people coming from different positions often have not just different opinions, but different sets of facts to back them up or interpretations of facts- and if we can't get those facts on the table, then we end up really going in circles.
Altho, also IMO, when someone says 'hey, this is all based on what Ive read over time rather than one particular source I can cite, take it for what it's worth' I think Turb ought to just do that, rather than upping the ante. Especially with someone who is a guest, brought in by Gary, and doesn't have the luxury of observing the interplay here before getting deeply involved in a thread.

They are completely ineffective, speaking to a different demographic not tempted by Rush or Hannity.

And vice versa.

Which is kind of my point. The demographic who gravitates to Rush and Hannity are not the only folks in town.

In view of the negative factors I've given, How do we move the Overton Window?

Push harder.

50 years ago, there was no effective coordinated national conservative movement. 40 years ago, they were kooks and weirdos.

30 years ago give or take a couple of weeks, Reagan was inaugurated.

Conservatives worked their asses off to make that happen. They got, and still get, funding from interested parties, but a lot of that was grass roots.

Go thou (plural) and do likewise.

What else are you going to do? Roll over and play dead?

The Overton Window moves in more than one direction.

Russell, that's still generalities. What specific things should we do?

Not only is NPR weak and increasingly infiltrated by Republicans, it's quite possible that it will lose its funding. If NPR is the best we have, that's a reason for horror.

Was there some time in the recent past when the media were not trying to monetize everything? The profit motive isn't exactly a recent invention....

When the NYT used to just fabricate stories about the Clintons, was that before or after journalists forgot they had a duty? And when the media basically ignored our Central American death squads or when Leslie Stahl covered up the fact that Reagan was senile, was that also due to hyper capitalism?

Id say
1)the ethic of monetizing everything was already a factor in the 80s
2)It's ludicrous to act as if I suggested that this happened at a single point in time across the industry
3)I didnt claim that this effect caused every piece of journalistic malfeasance in history
4)There is an obvious difference between profit being one of several motives, and profit being the only motive For example, if the teachers at your local high school cared only about money and tried to find the least labor-intensive way to move kids along and keep test scores up, it'd be a pretty awful school. Yet most of those teachers surely wouldn't work there if they didn't get paid at all. Not complicated.

But there's actually a long history of the media not only monetizing the hell out of everything, but doing so for the purpose of shaping public opinion and influencing Washington. Think Hearst and his yellow journalism, which pretty much invented the Spanish-American War and made him a lot of ducky in the process.

What I have hoped has been happening is that it's all gone in cycles, and we're in the trough of the cycle where the admen and ideologues are running the show. But what I fear is that the principled journalism that emerged from the early 20th century sludge has been pulled down in the undertow and that nothing's really come up to replace it.

It's also good to know that said principled journalism came up when there was a viable left, with teeth, that didn't run ideological litmus tests with its opposition to see if it was okay to take the stands they did, which what passes for the left these days routinely does.

The right has never been under any quaint pretense to do the same in kind, which is why the Hannitys, the Rushes, the Coulters, the Malkins, the Breitbarts and their ilk get away with what they do unscathed.

I have no data to back me up, so I'm on a limb here - but from my ballpark seat, I think a groundswell of principled journalism can be tied in with a groundswell of principled governance. That's not to say that such governance necessarily controls it (insert conservative chuckles here), but more often than not I think you may find the mindset of people engaged in progressive activist journalism is tapped into the same waters as the mindset of people engaged in progressive activist politics.

We have little to no principled governance in the U.S. today, so I think it's more than a coincidence that there is little to no principled media right now. Hearst got away with his lies because no-one opposed him, conspicuously from government; our contemporary equivalents are doubtlessly aware of the same thing.

Well, if NPR and PBS are the best things in the media that liberals can point too, then I would say that's pretty damning. And with regard to the "conservatives working their asses off" I think it is more accurate to say they spent money, lots of it, hell, they own and operate a cable news network.

The money factor is the thread that ties most of this post together. Whether it is the predominance of conservative think tanks in the media (totally non-controversial IMO) or the bought and paid for media figureheads and gasbags that proliferate on the 'mainstream' SCLM. And the situation is only going to get worse, where are the liberal elements of this society going to get that kind of money.

Last Sunday, as noted on many liberal blogs, in all the major opinion shows there were featured eight Republicans, congressman (including McCain of course) and potential Presidential candidates, versus zero Democratic congressman or Administration representatives.

I thought this post was right on and depressing in its accuracy. The current media situation in this country is central to the direction we are headed and I have a hard time seeing how things get turned around.

Slarti, you're right, it wasn't very helpful.

Thank you, Turbulence; that was well done.

"And with regard to the "conservatives working their asses off" I think it is more accurate to say they spent money, lots of it, hell, they own and operate a cable news network."

That's true, but they were working hard long before that, and not just working - they were working together. Liberals, on the other hand (or should I say "progressives," or should I say "civil libertarians," or should I say "unaffiliated refuse to be labeled") don't work together - they spend most of their intellectual energy criticizing the people they elect. Very NPR-like - trying to be even-handed in the accountability watch. Making false equivalencies. That's why we're failing. And we could turn it around but for the fact of the circular firing squad.

For now, at least, we have the Internet as a medium, just as much as Republicans. But rather than forming a coherent political focus and driving it home (like we did briefly in 2008), we aim at the wrong target, again and again.

Turbulence, it comes across like you're basically picking a fight after something that isn't even untrue but something you want to pick a fight over. Pointing out the sheer dominance of the right-wing think tank infrastructure of Heritage, Cato, and the AEI and replying yourself with "well what about CAP?" is more of a cry for attention than a well-argued point.

Very NPR-like - trying to be even-handed in the accountability watch. Making false equivalencies.

Liberals pride themselves on being the more reasonable and the most intellectual. Right-wingers have no such personal burdens.

What specific things should we do?

Get involved in political activity. Specifically, get involved in things that are likely to affect the actions of people who are in a position to make or implement policy.

Give money and time to candidates who approximately represent your point of view.

My suggestion is to focus where your effort will have the greatest leverage. Town, city, county, and state government. That's where the rubber really meets the road, anyway.

At the federal level, bug your House rep. At the executive level, you're one in 300 million, so you're noise. Unless you come from a small state, you're likely also noise to your Senator. Bug your rep. Don't send email, don't sign online petitions. Get the number and address of your rep's nearest local district office. Call up, talk to somebody, get a name, and next time you call ask for that person by name and remind them that you spoke to them before. Be polite but be crystal clear about what your interest is.

Quite often, your rep will have somebody on staff who specializes in whatever your issue is. If you do this enough, you can actually build a relationship with that person. It counts.

House reps have to run every two years, and in most cases it's a small-bore enough contest that any money or time you can contribute will actually be noticed.

Plus, no money gets allocated or spent without the House saying so. And money is the oxygen of all public activity.

Bug the living hell out of your House rep. That's what I suggest.

In fact, start today. Call up and say you want NPR funded. NPR is middle of the road, insufferably polite centrist pablum, but it's still head and shoulders above talk radio, network news, and nearly all cable news.

Call today. Call the local office, get a name, and make your point. Then call again tomorrow, ask for the person by name, and make the same point. Tell them what you want and expect your rep to do, then call back to either say thanks when he or she does it, or to complain and threaten your hands-on opposition when they run again if he or she does not.

As far as countering the big noise machine, you're not going to make an impact on folks like Rush, Beck, Hannity, et al. What you can do is make an impact on people who hear what they say, assume it's true, and just walk around parroting it. IMO the best way to do that is to actually engage them in conversation and point out to them that some of the stuff they are saying is not in fact true.

You don't have to be a jerk about it. Acknowledge their right to think whatever they like, acknowledge that they have cause to be pissed off / frustrated / annoyed / whatever. But also observe that some of the allegedly factual things they are saying are not actually true.

The other thing to also keep in mind is that a lot of people genuinely and sincerely believe stuff that you disagree with. You're not going to win them all.

Well, if NPR and PBS are the best things in the media that liberals can point too, then I would say that's pretty damning.

You work with what you got.

And with regard to the "conservatives working their asses off" I think it is more accurate to say they spent money, lots of it, hell, they own and operate a cable news network.

Both things are true. They spent a lot of money, and at a grass roots level they worked their @sses off.

The money factor is the thread that ties most of this post together.

Well then maybe it's time for liberals and lefties to pony up.

Last Sunday, as noted on many liberal blogs, in all the major opinion shows there were featured eight Republicans, congressman (including McCain of course) and potential Presidential candidates, versus zero Democratic congressman or Administration representatives.

I hear what you're saying, but outside of political junkies who watches that stuff?

Hell, I'm a semi-political-junkie, and I have never seen one of those shows in my life.

Nobody gives a crap about Meet The Press.

Screw "Big Media". Use the phone. Call your rep's local office. Get somebody's name. Be a PITA. It will help.

russell and Slarti, is there any way we can ban John Emerson until he reads the posting rules? If not, can I assume that "Go f*ck yourself" is now considered appropriate? I wasn't going to raise the issue on account of his Goodbye Cruel World comment, but since he seems to have completely screwed that up....

Turbulence, it comes across like you're basically picking a fight after something that isn't even untrue but something you want to pick a fight over.

Actually, I was trying to do John Emerson a favor. Like he said, he raised a lot of unsupported points. Instead of dealing with all the ones I thought were suspicious, I thought I'd do him a favor and just start with one that I thought would be easy to track down a cite for. I'm not picking a fight; I honestly don't think there's any real causation between conservative think tanks and right wing polarization of the media.

Pointing out the sheer dominance of the right-wing think tank infrastructure of Heritage, Cato, and the AEI and replying yourself with "well what about CAP?" is more of a cry for attention than a well-argued point.

First, I don't know for a fact that right wing think tanks dominate anything -- what does that even mean? Second, even if they did, there's no evidence -- none whatsoever -- that the dominance causes the news media to behave any differently. Causality claims are hard and correlation evidence won't suffice.

Did you read this thread? Did you notice how, when Emerson tried to find evidence to support his position, he failed completely? Doesn't that make you suspect he might be wrong?

Russell, that's not true. A lot of ordinary people watch the Sunday talk shows and think they're becoming well-informed by doing so. Same for the evening news.

We can't screw the big media because the big media is screwing us. If we ignore it, it won't go away. MSNBC is our only toehold in the broadcast / cable media, and Olbermann just got squeezed out. These are most people's main sources of information.

I basically agree with your proposal for a labor-intensive, grass-roots movement. That's all we've got, and that's all most progressive movements of the past. But it will require major life-style changes for large numbers of people.

A second problem is that the demographics that need to be reached (non-voters, the unemployed, the newly bankrupt, the lower middle class) are in general not very much like the liberal demographic, and in fact there's a lot of mutual hostility and very little communication.

I don't expect to post again at OW and I doubt that I'll comment again either, but this discussion has been interesting and except when Turbulence is involved, and I thought I'd continue.

For the record, I find Turbulences's snotty, heavy-handed sarcasm far more offensive than a nice simple "f*ck you". But he sets the rules around here.

Turbulence has convinced himself that my link proves nothing. What I see is that the eight think tanks most cited in the media, and 20 of the top 25, are centrist or conservative. To me that counts as influence of the media and progressive weakness.

I introduced my post as the summary of everything I've figured out over the last 8 years, and even added this: "(Everything below is expressed in its maximal form, as per my normal modus operandi. Readers may want to trim certain passages in accordance with their own tastes.)" By the nature of the piece, it wasn't all going to be documented. I came prepared for certain arguments but not for the one Turbulence raised, which still seems to me unimportant and wrong.

There's a certain kind of skeptical academic analysis that can make anything disappear, and Turbulence is applying that to the question of think tank influence in the media. Analyses of this kind often have value in helping advance knowledge, though I think that there's a tendency to far exaggerate that value. But systematic skepticism is not a useful way of dealing with actualities.

My view of journalism (similar to yours) can be found here: http://contusio-cordis.blogspot.com/2011/01/facts-are-overrated-anyway.html

With the current job description maybe some accountability for willfully spreading misleading, if not false, stories may help, see http://contusio-cordis.blogspot.com/2010/11/freedom-of-speech-clarification.html eventhough that article is not entirely applicable to the media.

russell and Slarti, is there any way we can ban John Emerson until he reads the posting rules?

Thanks for reminding me; I'd meant to say something about that, but life intervened.

John, please read the posting rules. Granted, they're not as clear as can be, nor are they consistently applied, but they're our rules; we invented them, and the rules are our own.

One of them is:

No profanity. For the record, 'hell', 'damn' and 'pissed' are not considered 'profanity' for the purposes of this rule; also for the record, the more offensive racial slurs and epithets will be deemed to 'profanity' for the purposes of this rule

This rule is in place so that some of our readers (not to mention front-pagers and front-pager emeriti) don't have the blog suddenly become inaccessible due to workplace filters.

Other posting rules are:

Be reasonably civil.

Don't disrupt or destroy meaningful conversation for its own sake.

Do not consistently abuse or vilify other posters for its own sake.

All of which inspired my comment to Turbulence, upthread, regarding inappropriateness of his response to you.

At this stage, a ban or even the threat of a ban is a bit premature. But it should be a given that all guest posters and prospective front-pagers should be asked to read and agree with the posting rules before being granted posting and policing privilege.

Try not to think of us as the blog equivalent of a police state. In actuality, we're closer to Mr. Whipple admonishing shoppers to please, for pete's sake, don't squeeze the Charmin.

It's very common for people to think that they are well enough informed because they watch TV news.

It's very common for people to not know what they don't don't know. One way TV news spreads ignorance is by leaving out most f the story and misleading people inot thinking that they ahve just been informed.

The myths promoted by the rightwing are rooted in the worst of human character and resonate with many people for that reason. The myth of balancing the budget by eliminating waste, for example,appeals to selfishness. That's why rightwing lies are so easy to promote. It requires background knowledge which people never get, least of all from the Sunday morning talk shows, to ward off conservative lies.

I realize that the mainstream media has been uterly corrupt in the past--the yellow journalism of the robber baron era is mentioed up thread. However, that knowledge is not reasuring to me. It is pretty easy for a domecracy to become a matter of empty form, an illusion, which is what the Republican party leadership wants. Rove, McCneel, Boehner,those guys don't want the US to be a democracy. They want this country to be an oligarchy like the good ol' robber baron days and they are a very long ways down the road to success. A corrupt media and a misinformed public are elements of the faux democracy.

Russel is right that grassroots organizing is the only way we have left to fight back. That's why community organizers are rightwing boogey men. The last thing conservatives want is for the peons to be organized!

I expect that we will have our pro-democracy greasroots uprising when global warming really starts screwing everything up. One thing Americans agree on, inspite of decades of conservative lying, is that government is here to solve problems. When the problems are widley precieved as effecting primarily the nonwhite, conservatives don't care. When problems get so big that even the conservatives can't blame the victims any longer, then there will be grassroots anti-consevative upheaval.

I'm glad I'm old. I don't think the future is at all bright.

Is heavy-handed, snotty sarcasm still cool?

But he sets the rules around here.

You keep repeating this. And it is not true. Don't you understand that repeating obviously wrong things makes you look dumb?

To me that counts as influence of the media and progressive weakness.

John Emerson, there are at least two theories that explain that data. Theory 1 is that the media are already conservative (which you admit) and thus favor conservative think tanks because they are conservative. Theory 2 is that conservative think tanks somehow (magically?) coerce the media into covering them more. But you can't tell which is true just by noting that conservative thinks are disproportionately covered in the media. That fact cannot help you decide whether theory 1 or theory 2 is true. That's why I said that proving causality is hard. If you don't get basic concepts like this, then maybe media criticism isn't for you.

By the nature of the piece, it wasn't all going to be documented.

Look, I'm a liberal. And I dig media criticism. If anyone here was likely to read your little screed and nod their head and say "Amen Brother, preach it!", it was me. But parts of your screed don't make sense and I can't ignore it. When conservative posters here write screeds full of stuff that doesn't make any sense and seems evidence-free, I call them on it. I'm not going to stop doing that just because the screed writer is a liberal.

Thanks for the civility, asshole. This place just reeks of goddamn civility.

We have now spent the majority of the thread talking about 21 words of a 2000 word piece, words hardly necessary to my argument, though they do contribute and I stand behind them. And the problem apparently isn't that what I said isn't true, but that it might not be true, that it is not proven, and that there might be a different explanation of the data.

My purpose in putting together a summary version of my whole point of view on these topics was to start a discussion of my overall point, and some here have responded to that. But, probably by inveterate habit, one individual (and thankfully only one) searched through the whole thing to find one secondary point to quibble about.

I know the old joke is that NPR stands for Nice Polite Republicans, but I'd like to suggest a new interpretation: Not People, Robots.

Caveat: I am not going to cite any of this unless someone asks, and even if you ask, I probably won't because I really should be working on something else and I might ask someone with excellent google fu, free time, and an agreeable disposition to do it.

In my uncited opinion, I think the spectrum of Republican-conservative-winger-libertarian talking points are much more appealing because they are often extremely simple and flattering to the audience. I also feel that many Republican policy positions boil down to:

You're not the problem. It's people unlike you who are the problem. We must persecute the outsiders.

That "policy position" is a viscerally appealing one and it isn't often susceptible to rational argument. I think it is so deeply and biologically ingrained to think that way that great effort is required (not just of Republicans, of anyone) to not do so.

Further caveat, I don't think that all democrats are morally superior to republicans because of their political opinions. I think most people including myself arrive at their political opinions by tribal affiliation first and acquire the rationalizations first. Having said that, I of course think I am right on the merits about the policy opinions I have (but who doesn't?).

As to where we go from here, I agree with Russell. If all you can do is very little, do that. Contribute incrementally. I'm going to attend law school and I want/plan/hope to work at ACLU or a local CLU or DOJ if I can swing it.

I think that social incentives are up there with money in influencing human behavior. People care quite a lot about being cool and they don't want to be unlike other people. As to how to make progressive positions cool, I can only think of the obvious and already tried answers, but more of them. Grassroots campaigns, get young people involved, use social networks. I don't think the method is mysterious, I think the effort required is the hardest part. We need a progressive movement to achieve criticality. The way to get more people involved is to get more people involved. As more people join a movement, it becomes more appealing and recruits people at an accelerating rate, or so history looks to me (look how many people are doing that thing! It must be a good thing to do!). The fact that it will be a miserably slow process at first does not mean that there is a better option.

Lastly, we could entirely sell out the progressive movement to some industry (multiple industries would be better)and promise them massive policy concessions in exchange for our unswerving allegiance. Energy, healthcare, agriculture, finance, and defense are already taken; is Google hearing offers?

Is heavy-handed, snotty sarcasm still cool?

de rigeur, sometimes. But if you read what I wrote, you'll note that I was, in as nice a way as is available in my admittedly limited repertoire, reminding Turbulence about the posting rules.

As I said, or attempted to say: posting rules regarding civility are difficult to enforce. Typically we just try and self-police, and when that doesn't work, we try something different.

Of course it would be nice to be clear and consistent, but we're a volunteer staff, and sometimes we can't resist squeezing the Charmin ourselves. Then we have to do an extended act of contrition, usually.

John and Turb--I don't honestly think you're that far apart. But I am sometimes given to pollyanish attitudes when two people I like to read start bashing each other. On the point in question, I agree with both. Seriously. Rightwing think tanks seem to get most of the press, in my unscientific opinion, but Turb has a point in saying that doesn't mean they "control it". I'd guess the MSM (or whoever controls it) chooses to quote right-leaning think tanks because whoever is in charge wants to do so, not because of the power of the think tanks themselves. But that does seem like a minor issue to me.

Now for sapient's comment--

"Liberals, on the other hand (or should I say "progressives," or should I say "civil libertarians," or should I say "unaffiliated refuse to be labeled") don't work together - they spend most of their intellectual energy criticizing the people they elect. Very NPR-like - trying to be even-handed in the accountability watch. Making false equivalencies. That's why we're failing. And we could turn it around but for the fact of the circular firing squad. "

Sorry, but if that's the problem it can't and shouldn't be cured. Lefties who are into human rights issues have long noticed that there is considerable continuity between Democrats and Republican administrations. Democrats aren't as bad, on average, but that's no reason not to criticize Democrats.

I see this "unity" argument made on the far left sometimes, in a different context--don't criticize Hamas when Israel is the main problem, is one example. Stay unified. It won't work there either, because people who pay attention to human rights issues notice double standards at work and people who employ them lose credibility.

As for NPR-like--well, there are a lot of things onc could say about someone like Greenwald, but being NPR-like isn't one of them.

What I said was "many outlets end up subcontracting their stories to think tanks. Since liberals and Democrats have not bothered to learn the think tank game, this creates a rightward trend in news coverage."

Not "think tanks control the press".

"Have not bothered to learn" is sarcasm, but I think that the Democratic / liberal results are poor in large part because the effort was poor, especially initially. There's a long way to go to catch up.

Thanks for the civility, asshole. This place just reeks of goddamn civility.

Look, if you're not smart enough to write comments without cursing people off, I don't think this is the place for you. Clearly, you are struggling with the posting rules. Isn't there some blog devoted to pro-wrestling you could be commenting on instead? Or have they already rejected you as well?

We have now spent the majority of the thread talking about 21 words of a 2000 word piece, words hardly necessary to my argument, though they do contribute and I stand behind them.

First of all, we're dealing with a small piece because I was trying to be nice, seeing as how you're new here and all. Second of all, I think that a lot of regulars aren't getting involved here because your piece was poorly written and difficult to finish. Third, based on how poorly you reacted to simple questions about one point, I don't think you can blame any of us for holding back on critical comments on the rest of it. I mean, after a few simple questions on one point, you started telling people to go f*ck themselves, insisted that I was king of the universe, promised us that you were never going to comment here again and generally threw a Grade A Class I tantrum. I don't know what you'd do if we critiqued several more pieces of your "argument", but the possibility that you might bite the heads of some chickens does weigh heavily on my conscience.

And the problem apparently isn't that what I said isn't true, but that it might not be true, that it is not proven, and that there might be a different explanation of the data.

You make claims about the world, the burden of proof is on you to, you know, prove them. If you can't prove them, don't make them. Or at least retract them. But don't whine at me about being asked to bear the burden. Grow up and deal with it like an adult.


And I still don't get it: why are you still writing comments here? You already did your 'Goodbye Cruel World' tantrum -- that means you are supposed to stop commenting here. Why haven't you? Was the tantrum just an emotional outburst? Or do you often lie?

First of all, we're dealing with a small piece because I was trying to be nice, seeing as how you're new here and all.

I'm generally a Turbophile, but I must say, at least in terms of tone, you seem to have missed the mark on the whole niceness thing, Turb.

That doesn't excuse the vulgar responses, mind you.

So, to both Turbulence (very apt handle right now) and Mr. Emerson, can't we all just get along? That's not to suggest that you shouldn't critically question one another's arguments, but this is getting awfully personal considering the issue is whether or not right-wing think tanks are better at influencing the media than their counterparts on the left, unless that's somehow code for calling someone a child rapist or something and I'm simply unaware of it.

Sheesh...

As I said, I'm philosophically even-handed between stupid, snotty sarcasm and cursing. You seem to think that one of the two shows immense superiority. I prefer to curse, but different strokes.

I am still writing comments here because the thread is interesting when you're not on it.

"The burden of proof" -- how much of this kind of thing ever is proved? I was laying down a starting point, or trying to. If you think that it's significantly wrong, say so. If you're philosophically opposed to the kind of complex summary statement I just made, then just butt out. If the site philosophy is opposed to this kind of summary statement, then I shouldn't be here at all. You and I might come to an agreement on that point.

This is experimental both for me and OW. OW is deciding if they want me here, and I'm deciding if I want to be here. Indications tend toward no, certainly to the extent that you speak for the site.

I really wanted the topic to be the thing that I was talking about (the media) and not the thing that I wrote. But on academic-influenced blogs that's often not possible.

I think the spectrum of Republican-conservative-winger-libertarian talking points are much more appealing because they are often extremely simple and flattering to the audience.

To be fair, you could say the same about many liberal and/or progressive talking points.

I am in general agreement with the thrust of John Emerson's argument - most of the media channels that have a broad public audience are, from the point of view of actually providing useful, accurate information, crap. Their focus is entertainment, and quite often that entertainment takes the form of rattling everybody's cage to spike up their level of general resentment and pissed-off-ness.

We're a nation of Art Immelmans. That's a Love in the Ruins quote, inserted just to put a smile on Countme's face.

Inside joke, John, and not directed at you.

There are some ok-to-pretty-good liberal / progressive / what have you equivalents. NPR has the broadest audience, even though it's kinda weak tea. Colbert and Stewart, who basically approach things from the humor angle.

I personally like Thomm Hartmann, who claims a national audience of a couple million, but I'll be damned if I've ever met anyone else who's ever heard of the guy.

I digress.

That's generally why I argue for ignoring big media and directly engaging people - actual human beings, that your personally know - and challenging the stuff they think they know based on crap information. You can actually have an impact.

Ditto the suggestion to directly engage folks who can make and implement policy, especially where you personally are one among tens of thousands, rather than one among millions.

If you're one among ten thousand, and one in a thousand people bother to do anything at all, you have suddenly become ten percent of the popular input. It can be a big lever.

I give money to my federal House Rep, and my state House Rep, and am often in contact with them through local contacts. In my federal House Reps case, that's his local office two towns over. In my state House Reps case, that's her email, which she herself answers, and occasionally phone.

In my town, I've been to selectmen meetings, attended town meeting, and have spoken up and presented agenda items in both contexts. I have also approached selectmen directly, by phone or face to face, to discuss stuff that's important to me.

If you make an effort - a specific, personal effort, directed to specific people - it gets noticed, especially in contexts where the overall population is not so large.

Yes, the media sucks. So you have to make it person to person, otherwise it gets lost.

And yeah, it does require a lifestyle change. You have to get up off of your behind and do something.

That's pretty much all I got. Hope it's helpful.

Last but not least, since I'm now an occasional front-pager, I suppose it behooves me to weigh on John vs Turb.

FWIW - John, it's not cool here to tell people to f**k off and call them @ssholes.

Sarcasm, on the other hand, is acceptable.

That may strike you as dumb or hypocritical in any of a number of ways, but nonetheless it's how we roll. For good or ill.

Lots of folks here have personal styles that rub other folks here the wrong way. Over time we've kinda learned to deal. Or, folks just decide to pack it up and go do something else.

Hope you decide to stick around, I think you will actually find it congenial in the long term.

That's your call.

Thanks for the post!

I'm generally a Turbophile, but I must say, at least in terms of tone, you seem to have missed the mark on the whole niceness thing, Turb.

To clarify: I was trying to be nice by picking one unsubstantiated point that I figured Emerson would have the a relatively easy time finding a cite for.

Also, I think my tone was pretty damn polite right until John Emerson decided that he didn't need to provide any evidence for anything he wrote because the voices in his head told him he was correct. Go read my first two comments in this thread and please, point out the rudeness. If Marty or McTex tried to pull that "argument" I doubt they'd get as much politeness from the commenters here, and I really don't see why John Emerson should be treated any better.

Turb was engaging in some peacocking in a cry for attention, and John Emerson took it a bit too personally rather than just writing Turb off as someone who, I suspect, has a desperation to try to seem "even handed." Seriously, Turb, you added NOTHING to the discussion and hose to nitpick over what is an obvious point by Emerson.

It has been nice watching ya'll squabble, as usual you progressives can spend all your energy fighting yourselves.

The whole point of this post is that somehow the right wing has taken over the media, which is in itself and absurd concept.

I do watch the Sunday morning shows occasionally and if there ever was a Sunday devoted to the right wing it was only to make up for the 50 weeks a year that the left wing dominates tose conversations. George Will is a regular and gets two sentences a week.

I assume Fox is very right wing.

Outside that there is no MSM that carries any torch for the right wing.

The "networks" are Democratic fawning fools and still haven't found a way to actual criticize the current administration without following that with a short "it really isn't Obama's fault" caveat.

Oh, that's me quoting me, sorry.

But really, in general, as people get older they are more afraid of getting old and being poor so they work harder to hold on to what they have. They become more conservative, less inclined to support more taxes except Medicare and SS so the conservative Ambient Opinion is easier to sustain. And we have lots more older people.

It's really not the think tanks or weak kneed journalists or any of that. Go look at any newspaper left on a train and see what section hasn't been opened, it's probably the "WORLD" section, next would be the op-ed page. Even the people who read the paper everyday read the sports and front page first, local news, weather and then the funnies.

The media is not responsible for all that.

I really had thought that I was talking to people who knew their butt from a hole in the ground. Turbulence is playing dumb and quibbling.

I basically agree with hairskirthedonist that this isn't worth fighting about, but to T. it's very very important

T. says that he kindly only picked one single undocumented point to question me about. What does that mean? Because there are dozens of undocumented points in the piece. I wrote it that way. If I'd been questioned about every single one of them this thread could go into the thousands without accomplishing anything at all.

This is a summary piece. I was making a general statement about the whats and whys of the media and was trying to start a discussion about where we go next. An actual disagreement, one which meant that my summary was wrong and misleading, would have been appropriate, but I didn't think that T.'s quibble contributed anything.

Outside that there is no MSM that carries any torch for the right wing

I suggest that there just aren't any absolute gauges of winginess, Marty, as evidenced in part by the mention of "Nice, Polite Republicans" interpretation of NPR, upthread.

But I might possibly have misinterpreted.

, and John Emerson took it a bit too personally rather than just writing Turb off as someone who, I suspect, has a desperation to try to seem "even handed."

You know, I've been called many things, but this is the first time anyone has ever suggested I was too even-handed. I think people who have been reading my comments here for a few years will look at this statement of yours and conclude "Tyro has completely lost it".

Seriously, Turb, you added NOTHING to the discussion and hose to nitpick over what is an obvious point by Emerson.

It is not an obvious point. If it is so obvious, provide a cite. Should be trivial.

Look, Emerson doesn't have the intellectual capabilities to understand the difference between correlation and causality. I figured that you might, but now I'm not so sure. I'd suggest that you either put up or shut up: find a cite backing Emerson's claim, or leave us in peace. But your continual evidence-free harping grows tiresome.

I mean, surely you are capable of doing more than inventing fictional notions about my need for attention. If you find it so obvious, find a cite.

Right now the entire major media, except for Krugman, MSNBC, and I suppose a few others, that Social Security needs to be fixed. The way it's argued it's a right wing idea; the fixes needed are quite moderate, and different than the ones being suggested.

Likewise on balancing the budget. Tax increases are off the table, reducing military spending is off the table, and nothing can be done to reduce skyrocketing medical costs if it harms any big business whatsoever. Another right wing dialogue.

Bush v. Gore: anti-Gore dominated.
2000 recount: Republican dominated
Iraq war: pro war spin

Olbermann talks vividly, but he's not very far left, and he's one of very few.

Wingers call centrists liberals and think that thjey win the argument that way.

Go read my first two comments in this thread and please, point out the rudeness.

Can't do it. It's not there. So, no, you didn't really start off rudely, Turb. If I'm going to go all-in on the meta, I'd say John Emerson was a bit dismissive of your questions with the *think what you like, I don't care* thing, and could have started off with some of his later-presented reasoning on how provable his statements were and what his intent was in making them. Perhaps that wouldn't have started what seems to be a tit-for-tat, mutual escalation of insults. Still, blood on both of your hands. Well, all four, if each of you has two, I mean.

Failed to italicize that first sentence, which is Turb's, to be clear. Sorry.

Since liberals and Democrats have not bothered to learn the think tank game, this creates a rightward trend in news coverage.

This is the astonishing sentence which has driven the ever-so-civil Turbulence into a screaming rage.

Maybe I could have nuanced it a little differently, but would that have helped? He would just have found a different nit.

Look, Emerson doesn't have the intellectual capabilities to understand the difference between correlation and causality.

Cite?

Your claim, dude. Fly with it.

Number 9 banned. Feel free to write the kitty and explain why we should unban you. It should be an interesting bit of speculative fiction.

I was very happy to see that John Emerson was guest-posting here. And I thought his first post was a damn good one (albeit horrifically depressing).

It would be damn shame if this was the last we saw of John here.

Not going to wade any further into the murk...just wanted to say that.

If I has said "contributes to" instead of "creates" the main point at stake here would disappear, though I also think that T. doesn't believe that Democrats and liberals were inept at the think tank game.

I personally would find an in-depth conversation about the degree of and reasons for the success of right-wing think tanks in influencing the major media outlets rather interesting. Maybe what seems obvious here really isn't. But I don't see why it has to be about the supposed stupidity of some number of the people commenting here. How is this personal?

Outside that there is no MSM that carries any torch for the right wing.

I'm thinking John E makes a pretty good counter-argument to this in the first two paragraphs of his 12:09.

Number 9 banned.

There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who don't.

Thanks for that hsh.

I guess I'm looking at this a bit differently than some. I don't care that Emerson insulted me. I care that he rejects the whole idea of providing evidence for one's statements. I mean, even Charles Bird didn't really do that. Have we, at long last, finally found a front page poster worse than Charles Bird?


Cite?

The fact that when trying to provide a cite for a claim that conservative think tanks cause conservative media bias, all he could come up with was a cite showing that the media cite conservative think tanks more than centrist or liberal think tanks. That is a common error. See my comment here for more detail.

I'll make your life easier Slarti: John Emerson is a liar. He told us that he was leaving here and not going to comment here anymore, but he keeps coming back. Would you like a cite for that as well?

Theory 2 is that conservative think tanks somehow (magically?) coerce the media into covering them more. But you can't tell which is true just by noting that conservative thinks are disproportionately covered in the media. That fact cannot help you decide whether theory 1 or theory 2 is true.

What kind of inane bullshit is that "conservative think tanks somehow (magically?) coerce the media into covering them more." The conservatives have done a better job of working the media than the liberals. No magic, no coercion. This is a straw man.

And yes, I didn't document that think tanks have many activities besides than placing stories in the media -- lecturers, coferences, retreats, and their own publications. Nor did I document that the conservatives have been more successful than the liberals in this area.

I could have left that whole sentence out and my overall argument would scarecely have been changed, and I could have changes "created" to "contributed to", but does anyone really think that that would have allowed the discussion to be about my overall point? T. has as much as said that there were a lot of other things he wanted to attack.

And Marty comes on with a perfect example of ambient opinion. Other 50 weeks please. Note turn will not throw a fit asking him for a cite, because everyone knows better than to engage with a republican

To be fair, you could say the same about many liberal and/or progressive talking points.

I considered addressing that objection in my post, left it for later, and now it's later.

Yes, liberal / progressives get off on moral superiority over conservatives / Republicans, but I would posit that liberal policy positions are generally NOT of the "punish the outgroup" variety. In fact, many are at least nominally selfless and mostly of the "spend-money-on-other-people-variety." It's up to you to determine if many coincides with "most." The ones I am thinking of are

Affirmative action
Equal Protection laws for minorities / women
Same-sex marriage and DADT repeal, subset of the above
Welfare
Foreign aid
Voter registration
Government-funded health insurance
Social Security

Of course, if you're poor or gay or a minority or a woman or some combination of those, you are voting in your self-interest (but defensibly and for the greater good as well, in my opinion). If you're a straight white upper-class man like me, I just don't see how I can be accused of self-interested and anti-outgroup voting. To use a phrase of Jon Stewart's I once liked, who the heck is funding the prowelfare side of welfare fight? Big Poverty?

Lastly, for John Emerson, regarding profanity v. sarcasm: profanity triggers filters in many workplaces. That alone seems to me an insuperable argument for antiprofanity policies and adhering to them on this blog.

FWIW, Number 9 reminds me a lot of matoko_chan on Balloon Juice. No cud lip though, so for that we can be grateful.

If I has said "contributes to" instead of "creates" the main point at stake here would disappear,

Adding weasel words won't make the problem go away. You're arguing for causation. That's hard to prove, even if you're just arguing for partial causation. The problem is that you have no evidence.

though I also think that T. doesn't believe that Democrats and liberals were inept at the think tank game.

What "game" are you talking about? I think lots of liberal think tanks produce much better reports than their conservative equivalents, but so what? Is that the "game"? Is the game raising cash? Getting their research showcased in the media? What?


The conservatives have done a better job of working the media than the liberals. No magic, no coercion. This is a straw man.

Are you talking about conservatives or conservative think tanks? You keep switching so it is difficult to get a handle on your argument. I haven't seen any evidence that conservative think tanks are better at working the media than liberal think tanks. Do you have any examples in mind? Anything at all?

Nor did I document that the conservatives have been more successful than the liberals in this area.

What do you even mean by successful? By what metric are you arguing that Heritage is more successful than CAP? Is it more conferences and publications and lectures? Because if that's it, I don't see how that affects the media.

This goes back to my very first two comments to you, where I specifically asked "what metric are you using". I'm still waiting for an answer.

I would posit that liberal policy positions are generally NOT of the "punish the outgroup" variety.

I agree with this.

To be fair, I'm not sure that conservative policies are primarily about punishing out groups, as much as they are about not making an out group's problem *my* problem.

In practice, the real-world consequence of that is that out groups often find themselves up the creek, no paddle.

So, some might say, not so much difference in the end. But it's worth recognizing the difference in intent, at least.

But yeah, conservative policies have a tendency to bring negative results to folks who don't have a lot of advantages to start with. IMVHO.

Turbulence is still playing dumb. As I understand, he now wants me to precisely quantify the political superiority of conservative think tanks to liberal thinks tanks, and then plug it into a causal formula proving causation, and until then I cannot say "Conservative think tanks have been more effective than liberal think tanks, and that contributes to the rightwing slant of the media." He also seem to think that that statement is not only unproven but also wrong, and not only unproven and wrong but also unintelligible and meaningless. The problem's with him as far as I'm concerned.

I think that what I've said was clear enough to anyone who intended to understand it, and nothing can be clear enough for someone who intends not to.

Turb no one could meet those standards. Expecting someone to only make observations on which he has a harvard media studies meta-survey would be limiting no? You don't believe John, fine. Please stop derailing the thread with requests for impossible levels of proof.

"Turbulence is still playing dumb. As I understand, he now wants me to precisely quantify the political superiority of conservative think tanks to liberal thinks tanks, and then plug it into a causal formula proving causation"

No, he (and I) would like for you to provide a word at least that defines superiority in a metric that can be evaluated. More mentions? You said that, is the metric you want to hang your hat on? More influence as measured by policy initiatives that make it to legislation?

Since the paragraph wasa about outsourcing legislative writing it seems tha if the Democrats have fewer think tanks but still use them as often to write legislation it limits the impact.

How is the advantage of the right manifested in a way that i can see or measure? Is it just in the reputation of the think tanks that exist so that if Cato says it the it must be true?

he now wants me to precisely quantify the political superiority of conservative think tanks to liberal thinks tanks

I want you to write something, anything really, explaining what you think they're doing better. Are they better because they're raising more money? Getting more journalists to spend time at their conferences? What?

Look, I've made answering this question as easy for you as I possibly could. I've even made suggestions about what you might mean so you don't even have to come up with an explanation by yourself. But you still can't answer this really simple question.

The problem's with him as far as I'm concerned.

Hey, sometimes, I'm dumb. So: can anyone, anyone at all, explain what John Emerson is talking about when he writes that conservative think tanks are winning the "game" over liberal think tanks and how conservative think tanks are more "successful" and maybe even how this "success" translates into making the media more conservative? I've got no idea what John Emerson is talking about. Frankly, I don't think anyone does because his thinking seems shallow and unformed to me. But maybe I'm wrong.

So, can someone please explain what he's talking about?

I've got no idea what John Emerson is talking about.

Others do. Ask them.

Please, someone talk to the guy. Seriously.

I've got no idea what John Emerson is talking about.

The link saying that conservative thinktanks are consistently more often quoted in the media didn't tip you off?

In any case, it seems clear that you've identified a claim in the post that you think is ill-supported. It'd be nice if it were possible to talk about the rest of the post as well.

"Likewise on balancing the budget. Tax increases are off the table, reducing military spending is off the table, and nothing can be done to reduce skyrocketing medical costs if it harms any big business whatsoever. Another right wing dialogue.

Bush v. Gore: anti-Gore dominated.
2000 recount: Republican dominated
Iraq war: pro war spin

Olbermann talks vividly, but he's not very far left, and he's one of very few."

In order:

Tax increases discussed on nightly news every night this week

Same with military cuts

5 minutes this morning with Sessions on SS and Medicare being on the table

Both Bush/Gores were covered pro-Gore by MSM

Iraq war you are correct, and wars are almost always covered that way

So Olbermann is not far enough left for you, how about Maddow? And just for reference neither is as far left as Harry Smith, he just happens to have to try to hide it.

Russell: "We're a nation of Art Immelmans"

Broad smile. Thank you.

Right about now, everyone on this thread could probably use a quick temporal lobe massage and reading with my Ontological Lapsometer.

Maybe I'll wait to break out the instrument until we're all presenting rearwards like chimpanzees.

Which is also an inside joke not directed at anyone.

Turb: "I'll make your life easier Slarti: John Emerson is a liar. He told us that he was leaving here and not going to comment here anymore, but he keeps coming back. Would you like a cite for that as well?"

You don't need my advice and no effing offense intended, but quitting while you were behind with "adorable, really" might have been good.

My Dad, who was not a liar, on the few occasions when he directed a rant at the kid I used to be, would often stalk out of the room at a point everyone thought was the end of the rant (because he said that was it, he'd had it, do what you want because you will anyway, that was the last time he would waste his breath), and then reappear soon after (I had to cover my mouth to hide the relieved grin and then look all solemn and terrified again in a split second) with another paragraph or a coda to the rant .... or he would reappear just as suddenly and start a perfectly normal conversation with my brother or someone else, ignoring me.

If I'd have said he looked adorable or accused him of lying about leaving the room, some version of "go eff yourself" (the "f" word replaced by a considerable uptick in the volume) would have broken loose and I'd have deserved it.

Frankly, (not directed at you Turb) I'd like to see less reasonable analysis by liberals on the political talk show circuit and the oped pages across the board and more John Emerson-like go eff yourselfism (with a threatening lean across the table in the case of O'Reilly, Hannity, and the rest of the vermin). Cokie Roberts, too.

Which is where I think we should go from here.

Not constructive nor analytical, but bracing and kind of refreshing.

Tax increases discussed on nightly news every night this week... Same with military cuts

clearly, budget hawkery is a leftist preoccupation.

Both Bush/Gores were covered pro-Gore by MSM

you should go read the Daily Howler for a while.

Not really sure how to start this. John, I'm a huge fan, as I mentioned earlier, so I would like you to hang around. I'd would note that your point of view is similar to things that Bob McManus, who used to comment here, had. I also enjoyed what he had to say, and he also left off commenting here with much the same complaint that you had, that this place was too civil. I don't disagree with the observation, the place can be too civil sometimes, but the civility stays because it seems like the downsides of not being civil are worse than the advantages of coarsening the tone would bring.

One reason is that if we do drop off the civility, it reduces everything to taking sides. You may argue that the left needs to do that a bit more often and you are just providing a visceral example. But if (and by making this observation, please don't think that I am taking Turb's side on this) one comment from one commentator is enough to have you leave the forum, it seems that this sensitivity at being challenged prevents anything from getting done.

Turb's point might be restated 'are conservative think tanks a cause or a symptom?'. I don't agree at all with the way he's tried to express that point, but that seems to be the core of the point, and understanding this is important, if only for tactical reasons. Your answer seems to be 'who cares, everything else I wrote stands'. I have no problems accepting that as a response, but I hope you can see that it doesn't answer the question, and it then becomes a litmus test of 'you think it's important? Well, go stand over there with the other losers' It seems that these sorts of tests are what makes the left so fragmented.

Your 1:06 comment puts the onus on all the other commentators to gang up on Turbulence because he didn't like your response. That's probably not going to happen, not because of any support of what Turb is saying, but precisely because of the civility of the place. We go thru paroxysms of
self flagellation over this from time to time, but we've always seem to return to it.

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Whatnot


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