Sunday, August 04, 2002

Quite a few liberal commentators (especially Atrios) are discussing Josh Marshall's damning criticism of the Bush administration and its "roll-back on terrorism" that a new Time Magazine article has brought to light. No doubt that it's disturbing, and will hopefully put to a quick and painful death the Clausewitzian pseudo-analysis that some blogosphere types have been employing to blame the whole thing on Clinton. If anything, it shows how dangerous arbitrarily setting yourself against the actions of a previous administration can really be, like the Bushites did with the Clinton administration.

What really grabbed me, though, is this part about the attempts to equate the Clinton administration (through Robert Rubin and his non-connection to possibly unethical actions by Citibank):

It's time to say it: this is a stupid argument. It's being made by a) mau-mauing Republicans and their journalistic allies, b) morons, and c) chumps. Absent any new information those are really the only groups who can be involved. The first group I don't much begrudge. They're involved in a political fight and that's how the game is played. The second group requires no explanation. The rest are journalists -- largely, but not all, of vaguely liberal politics -- who have so long been slapped around and cowed by conservative complaints about liberal bias that the desired Pavlovian response has become second nature. In the seedy vernacular we call this being 'whipped.' The better analogy might be to the emotionally-damaged battered woman who perversely respects her abusive husband for keeping her in line.
This is why the question of liberal bias in the media is important. Not that such a thing truly exists, but because the continuing assertion of such will no doubt convince some credulous souls that it is truly the case, and the media will bend over backwards to placate the former and not lose the latter. Even if the media were liberal, it's eating out of conservative hands right now in a desperate attempt to not appear liberal, and Josh is right: "It's not a pretty sight".

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