For years now, liberals have snidely suggested that watching Fox News Channel makes dumb conservatives even dumber. They've even produced trumped-up studies trying to prove it. This is in marked contrast to the enlightened viewers of the fusty old news networks, the ones upholding the standards of seriously weighty journalism, you see.
How vague and uninformative can these tired Old Media types be? Take the issue of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. From the vantage point of these news networks, it's unimportant to debate the substance of liberal attacks on DeLay. The charges don't even have to be explained. No, the only thing that's important is to build a vague impression of staggering momentum: DeLay has to go. On Monday morning, April 18, CBS and NBC morning shows picked up the story. Let's look at the basic elements used to sing the "Hallelujah, Republicans in Trouble" chorus:
1. Set a dark and spooky tone. NBC's Matt Lauer introduced the story: "Storm clouds are gathering on Capitol Hill, and at the center of the storm is the House Majority Leader, Texas Congressman Tom DeLay." Lauer overlooked the [natty] point: It is the media themselves who are taping the dark clouds into the metaphorical sky and then "reporting" on that storm. CBS's Julie Chen armed herself with other cliches: "Under fire for possible ethics violations," DeLay went to Houston "for some much needed support."
2. Empower the protesters. Then came the chants and obligatory signs of the left-wing DeLay-haters standing outside the NRA convention in Houston as DeLay spoke. Some signs read "Un-American Radical," and "Indict Delay now," and mocking DeLay's old exterminating business, "The Constitution is not a cockroach." Why does this little crowd outside, estimated by reporters as at best 150 people, suddenly get anointed as the voice of the people, while thousands cheering DeLay inside are ignored? Because they help the networks build their DeLay-the-crook storyline. CBS added the ridiculous line that some people in the protesters claimed to be conservative Republicans. Yes, and I suppose Dan Rather is a conservative Republican, too.