Friday, December 06, 2002

In a bit of heartening news, it looks like the (somewhat) mainstream left is finally starting to wake up and hearken to the Echo Chamber. Case in point, Signorile:

As you read this, the conservative punditocracy is likely in overdrive, ridiculing Al Gore for telling it straight about the media in an interview in The New York Observer last week. "The media is kind of weird these days on politics, and there are some major institutional voices that are, truthfully speaking, part and parcel of the Republican Party," Gore said. "Fox News Network, The Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh–there’s a bunch of them, and some of them are financed by wealthy ultra-conservative billionaires who make political deals with Republican administrations and the rest of the media."

It is conservative pundits’ stock-in-trade to nip such criticism in the bud, pronto–lest the debate shift to them, rather than staying focused on their powerful creation and whipping post, "the liberal media." They and their apologists throw out words like "delusional" and "desperate," maintaining a stranglehold on the discussion until they bludgeon the critic back into silent submission. Oftentimes liberals stand by during one of these clubbings, like scared chickens watching one of their own being dragged off to the slaughterhouse (and, cannibalistically, some join in, hoping to score some points with the slaughterers). Witness how quickly and effortlessly poor, wimpy Tom Daschle was plucked and thrown onto the barbecue after daring to criticize Rush Limbaugh two weeks ago.

Jeez, let’s not let that happen this time around. Even if you think Gore is a lousy candidate it’s hard to disagree with his critique, which he expresses with a lot more clarity–and balls–than most of those in the corporate-owned, supposedly "liberal media" do. (That fact alone should dispel the myth of the "liberal media")...

...True to form, Limbaugh was hooting and howling last week, professing shock that anyone could believe Gore’s claims that the conservative media has such power–yes, the same Rush Limbaugh who spouts Republican Party mantras on nearly 600 radio stations, was a commentator on NBC news on election night and was canonized recently by The Washington Post’s influential Howard Kurtz as a mainstream pundit, though Limbaugh still has the same far-right positions and tactics he’s always had. Actually, Kurtz’s recent defense of Limbaugh (claiming that Limbaugh is "policy-oriented") is a primary example of what Gore is talking about in his Observer interview. The conservative media’s pundits, positions, nonstories and half-truths are often legitimized without critique by producers, editors and reporters in the rest of the media. Why? A lot of these people are conservatives themselves and are quietly pushing an agenda, despite the pap about everyone in the media being a "librul." Others are hungry for ratings and circulation, and seem to believe that being "competitive" means sucking up. Still others appear to easily and pathetically succumb to the right’s charges that they’re suppressing stories because of their alleged liberal bias. This is Gore’s money quote:

"Something will start at the Republican National Committee, inside the building, and it will explode the next day on the right-wing talk-show network and on Fox News and in the newspapers that play this game, The Washington Times and the others. And then they’ll create a little echo chamber, and pretty soon they’ll start baiting the mainstream media for allegedly ignoring the story they’ve pushed into the zeitgeist. And then pretty soon the mainstream media goes out and disingenuously takes a so-called objective sampling, and lo and behold, these R.N.C. talking points are woven into the fabric of the zeitgeist."

Gore also points to how, "especially in the cable-TV market, it has become good economics once again to go back to a party-oriented approach to attract a hard-core following that appreciates the predictability of a right-wing point of view, but then to make aggressive and constant efforts to deny that’s what they’re doing in order to avoid offending the broader audience that mass advertisers want."
Ok, that was a good portion of the article, but 'twas a good one. What I'm wondering is where this increased use of the term "echo chamber" stems from. Even Gore is saying it. Is it just a case of great minds thinking alike, or does, say, Atrios have a higher class of readership than previous thought?

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