Saturday, February 19, 2005

The Conservative Media?

In the Februaray 14th issue of The American Conservative, Pat Buchanan celebrates the fall of Dan Rather and provides a brief history of the rise of the "conservative" media counter-establishment. Pat rehashes the emergence of right-wing punditry on “all-news” cable television food-fight shows, such as ‘Crossfire’ and its progeny, and also discusses the rise of talk-radio, Fox News, and the emerging blogosphere. Pat contends that “Conservative perseverance exposed the liberal bias, and technology killed the monopoly.”

On the surface, there is something to be said for Pat’s argument. There is certainly some good that arisen from Fox News and the phalanx of conservative and Christian-oriented media, from talk shows and weblogs to magazines.

But overall, the state of the conservative media is dismal. Rush Limbaugh, for example, sprang to the defense of Jim McGreevey when the former NJ governor came out of the proverbial closet. Limbaugh and other conservative media personalities are also drunk with the sprit of Jacobinism, and have become hard-core warmongers—there is no other word for it. Top evangelical media and spokesmen have defended torture and other “conservative” evangelicals have joined arms with the Christian left, singing Koom By Ah all the way, in endorsing global redistribution. Washington Times editorial page editor, ‘McLaughlin Group’ regular, and syndicated columnist Tony Blankley wants to send administration critics to the pokey. Even intelligent conservatives like George Will have heralded the emergence of Goldwaterism in the political success of Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Meanwhile, the paleocon, antiwar right is accused of being unpatriotic and anti-Semitic.

This is conservatism?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Darrell,

Ever since the Swift Boat smear late last Spring by all of those God fearing folks surrounding George Bush's campaign, Pat Buchanan just couldn't wish Dan Rather enough ill. Typical of many on both sides of the political and cultural divide, Buchanan so regularly gave in to the temptation of venting his disdain for his cultural antagonists that positive expressions of his own beliefs rarely surfaced. I am convinced that Buchanan's endorsement of Bush owes at least as much to instinctive hatreds of this kind as to anything else. You lose your spiritual freedom when you permit your own malevolence to determine what it is that you decide to do or to become and Pat Buchanan clearly made himself something of a slave that way last year. But that kind of illness is pandemic on the "right"; just listen to James Dobson once in a while.

I read Buchanan occasionally and only out of curiosity these days. His election time schizophrenia cost him any respect I'd ever had for him. Perhaps when the "right", paleos included, can stop defining itself as the anti-left it will be able to offer hopeful Americans something more than stem-cell compromises, bombing runs in Iraq and torture in Cuba. Perhaps it might even find a way to see so little in an election that participation becomes nothing more than a kind of self renunciation. Can we hope?

John Lowell

8:17 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...

I saw a short documentary on MSNBC around election time that delved into Senator Kerry's anti-war activities after his service in Vietnam. Buchanan and other Nixon aides were interviewed for the show, and you could see that Pat had a personal animus for Kerry that went beyond policy differences. That anger also showed up on more than a few occasions in Pat's columns. I think his "support" for Bush was as much about his distaste for Kerry as anything else.

I think, too, that paleos have been particularly negligent in casting a positive vision. There is so much to critique that we spend little time trying to build an alternative, something to aspire toward. I do believe, however, that the transformation must first begin in our churches and work like leaven through the cultural loaf.

6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Darrell,

At the time of the hullaballoo over leadership at the National Religious Broadcasters a couple of years ago - Falwell, Dobson and Wildmon had tried to engineer a coup and had been caught in the act with the result that Dobson ultimately left the organization's board - I had an opportunity to discuss the matter with someone close to the events. The group opposing Falwell, Dobson and Wildmon had seen their maneuvering as an attempt to turn the organization into a vehicle for political propaganda which it was, of course. One of the main figures opposing this triumverate, the Moody Bible Institute's John Neff, had complained publically of a certain inability to resist someone of Dobson's status, calling him a "1000 pound gorilla". Neff's concern had been to identify the NRB with soul winning activities and not in diluting its efforts in Quixotic political gestures. Hardly an assertive sort, Neff, concerned by the controversy his comments had generated, retired meekly with an apology to Dobson days later. So much for principle.

I think that this episode is instructive and points to the hopelessness of there ever being a change in the whole presentation of revivalist Christianity as long as it's present leadership remains ensconsed. The same might be said of the Fr. Neuhauses, George Weigels and Mother Angelicas in the Catholic world. As far as I can tell, Christ has very little to do with bigness, all-star religious personalities, and the public marketing he gets. More aptly, Christ can be found in the quiet suffering of a little animal lying by the side of a road, mauled by some murder car. Until we see Him there, we've misidentified Him altogether.

John Lowell

11:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a follow-up regarding Fr. Neuhaus, George Weigel, et al, I see an interesting piece today by the Mennonite Church's Peter Duda.
While not much of a Commonweal reader, I'd have to take my hat off to them for this one. Father's elitism and puffery can be insufferable. David Schindler at Communio, An International Catholic Journal, has been justly critical of Neuhaus on many occasions, albeit from an entirely different perspective. One wonders what his take on this question might be.

John Lowell

2:09 PM  

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