Skip to comments.TV to rescue desperate Dems? Michael Medved on the insanity behind new left-wing network
Posted on 11/18/2002 12:21:52 AM PST by JohnHuang2
Desperate Democrats have now come up with a magical solution to all their problems: suggesting the launch of an ambitious new television network to assure proper exposure for the liberal point of view.
One week after GOP victories in the midterm elections, the inside-the-Beltway journal The Hill reported that Democratic leaders believe that they need to find a "counterweight to what they call the vast and well-funded infrastructure of conservative ideology" in other words, that hoary, horrid bugbear of a vast right-wing conspiracy that's haunted liberal nightmares since Hillary evoked its fearsome power during the impeachment crisis. In order to balance such ferocious forces of reaction, the despondent Dems now "are calling for stronger liberal think tanks" and "even entertained the possibility of a liberal television network to offset Fox News."
The best way to come to terms with the insanity behind this suggestion is to try to imagine what this bold new venture might look like.
How might you program the liberal network to ensure its earnest ideological appeal? Perhaps you'd consider talk shows hosted by Phil Donahue, Larry King, George Stephanopolous, Bryant Gumbel, Katie Couric, Sam Donaldson, Geraldo Rivera, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Moyers or Barbara Walters and the other women of "The View."
Or maybe you'd recruit Dan Rather (or Jennings, or Brokaw) as your news anchor. For entertainment, you might consider a prime-time drama like "The West Wing," or a light-hearted (but tolerance-teaching) comedy like "Will & Grace." Barbra Streisand could provide musical specials (oozing leftie nostalgia, of course) for the holiday season and for Election Day.
The network also might broadcast enlightened liberal movies by filmmaking titans like Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, Robert Altman, Stephen Spielberg or Spike Lee. If future programmers for DEM-TV truly wish to let their imaginations soar, they might even fantasize about luring such luminaries as Rosie O'Donnell and Bill Maher out of their temporary retirements.
In other words, you could fill up the entire schedule of the new network with precisely the same sort of show that is already readily available, around the clock and across the dial. Only the looniest leftist could nourish the notion that today's broadcast or cable-TV networks shortchange or suppress liberal views.
Fox News triumphed precisely because it provided a forum for opinions seldom aired on the established channels, allowing the likes of Bill O'Reilly and Britt Hume to connect with an eager audience. The undeniable rightward tilt of Fox may undermine its claims of "fair and balanced" reporting, but the network does preserve the lively liberal perspective of personalities like Geraldo and Greta van Sustern.
By contrast, its "mainstream" competitors present self-consciously right-wing viewpoints only within the context of their dueling wonk shows (Crossfire, Buchanan and Press), and never as part of their entertainment line-ups. When in its history did television ever offer a show as unabashedly conservative as "The West Wing" is unabashedly liberal?
The day after the election, in fact, I wrote a commentary for USA TODAY suggesting that the precipitous ratings decline for "The West Wing" may have stemmed in part from its shrill, tiresome and predictable partisanship. In response to this observation, Michael Brecklin of Peoria wrote a letter to the editor declaring: "Pop-culture pundit Michael Meved is a hoot One wonders what sociopolitical conclusions Medved draws from the ratings free fall of shows starring Drew Carey and Kelsey Grammer, two staunch Republicans "
In answer to that question, I'd suggest that Carey and Grammer draw far less attention to their GOP affiliation than Martin Sheen attracts for his tireless left-wing activism. Moreover, if "Frasier" and "Drew Carey" contain regular Republican messages, those signals remain so stubbornly subtle as to count as invisible.
The talk of new networks and "stronger liberal think tanks" (as if Yale, Harvard, Stanford and other elite schools don't provide enough of an incubator for left-wing ideas) serves as an excuse for Democrats to avoid serious self-examination. Lamenting libs fret over the mechanics of communicating their message, rather than considering the shortcomings of the message itself.
Rather than suggesting that they could turn their political fortunes around with a few more big media stars who share their point of view, they might recall the eternally trenchant analysis of Cassius:
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves "
My story, and I'm sticking to it, is that the Democrats are victims of their own success. They are the party of big government, and of big, governmental solutions to our problems.
Back in FDR's day, that was a new idea, and a lot of people were persuaded that it was a very good idea.
Everyone has some point at which they think the government has gotten too big. In the 1940's, only a small minority of people thought that government was too big. So when FDR suggested that the government get a lot bigger, a lot of people said yes. And the government did get bigger. A lot bigger.
In the 1960's, President Johnson proposed that the government eliminate poverty. What a great idea! Why had no one thought of it before? We'll just vote to have government end poverty, and that will be that. So Johnson won in a landslide, and the government got bigger. A lot bigger.
Well, the government is real big now. It's so big that the number of people who think it's too big isn't a small minority anymore. In fact it's a majority.
Plus, the government didn't end poverty. They spent $12 trillion, and they did a lot of stuff, but mostly it seems to have screwed things up. So now people know something they didn't use to know: that government programs don't always work. In fact they can make things worse.
So now come the Democrats, bringing the next installment of Even Bigger Government fixing the next problem. To them, it's just the obvious, logical thing. It's what they do: they propose more government action to fix more problems.
Except now, a whole bunch of people are skeptical that anyone knows how to fix problems using government. People have seen many of these bright and shiny new government solutions turn into big boondoggles that wasted lots of money and didn't do any good. And another whole contingent doesn't care whether the programs would work or not; they think the government is too damned big, and they are against anything that would make it bigger. And they are a majority now.
We haven't reached the point where literally everyone thinks the government is too big. The Democrats are not without voters who support them. But those people are not a majority anymore. Most people think the government is plenty big as it is, thankyewverymuch, and they don't want any more of it.
The Democrats do not understand this. They think that what they need is new ideas for new programs. If only they can identify people's big, pressing problems -- and then propose a government solution, a majority will flock to them. But a majority now does not want to hear about any more government solutions... to anything. The whole reason for the Democrats' existence has been met. We now have all the government we want. Hooray!
Like the aerospace workers who won the Cold War, Democrats are hearing, "Congratulations! You won! But now we don't need you anymore. You're fired."
I mean, the message is out there, already... In the college campuses, the TV, the newspapers...? How can they saturate the market any MORE???
I'm glad Medved finally gets around to the underlying issue: liberalism is as flawed as communism and Marxism... And NO amount of PR won't change the fact that they're selling bad product... That they'll consider such a silly idea as another liberal TV network...? Won't change it.
Remember that song, "Sell the Edsel!" Don't worry- it'll backfire (again)...
We know where this liberal refuge will exist, on PBS, a newly formed commercial free network, or public access cable. We'll be stuck with the bill for broadcasting such rubbish. Unlike radio, everyone pays for the channels their cable service provides even if they don't watch all of them.
Listen to radio public broadcasting with NPR. Even farther left is commercial free (but political in spite of their non-profit status) Pacifica.
The question therefore is, why do they need another netwrok when they already have one subsidized by their favorite source of money? The taxpayer!!
A pretty good analysis, Nick. I agree with most of it. I think, though, that the leftest capture of all the OldDomiantLiberalMedia for the past 40 years, is quite important. People can only make judgements on the information that they have. The OldDomiantLiberalMedia has sheltered the leftists in our society for at least 40 years, killing unfavorable stories, acting as a cheerleader for ever more government and government programs, and filling the air waves with outright lies when it suits their agenda. They have competition now in the new media (talk radio, the internet, Fox, C-Span). Those information sources are a lot of the reason that those who think the government is too big are now a majority.
The regular comfort of the unchanging reliable menu TV news, that PBS, that the NY Times, the Washington Post, CNN, etc. served up had become a great comfort to them. Like Santa's Decemeber 25th visit is a comfort to kids.
There are kids who take the pleasant fantasy in so deeply, are so wrapped up in it, that when at seven or eight years they are told the truth -- it's like you knocked them over with a two-by-four, they scream, they pout, they resist -- just like the behaviour we are seeing.
I'll tell you why I think that applies more than most to Mr. Keillor. Because he writes, he develops his Lake Wobegon and other fictional stories so deeply. In that gift he has, in its coining, there are two sides. One the side we all like that makes him a great storyteller, clearly loving and caring about the personalities in his stories. But that ability to be so wrapped into his own tale, has made him all the more adamant in holding onto what the external worldview that is supplied to him day after day by the media. The energies -- the magnificent energies he puts into his works -- are spent on those works, and he NEEDS (perceives he needs) the solid comfort of a well-constructed steady world-view created for him.
Sort of a "Motel Six" liberal bent. By that I mean, he is liberal beacuse that is the intellectual motel that he checked into every night, exhausted from his own work, it was a comfort to him. Now Motel Six has been shown not to be but a poor and false substitute for a real home -- a home, btw, with all the burdens and aggravations a home comes with, and not the daily crisply made sheets and maid-cleaned room one gets at a motel. A house that takes energy to keep, where no one makes your bed for you.
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