The government shutdown has made it abundantly obvious that the anti-conservative news media and the anti-conservative Republican establishment have joined together to the point where it's almost impossible to see where one ends and the other begins. Some might say they merge every day on the set of "Morning Joe."
The media have designated as Public Enemy No. 1 a recalcitrant bloc of tea party stalwarts who have declared their intention to stop Barack Obama's statist juggernaut from imposing the Obamacare monstrosity, running up trillion-dollar deficits year after year and in so doing destroying the private sector. Amazingly, liberal Republicans have demonstrated the same wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Look no further than the media-thrashing given to risk-takers such as Sen. Ted Cruz. Politico's Roger Simon wasn't really joking when he wrote, "Question: If Ted Cruz and John Boehner were both on a sinking ship, who would be saved? Answer: America."
The media don't even have to say this themselves. They can simply quote the "moderates" who use immoderate language. A lot of senators are leaking pure venom anonymously to reporters about Cruz in the hope of suppressing the uppity conservative rebellion.
Pundits are more obvious. On MSNBC, host Alex Wagner feasted on the tweets of former Reaganite Bruce Bartlett: "Bruce refers to the 'tea party clowns,' and I think a lot of people would agree with that designation, but the question is, where, what happens at the end of this in terms of national standing? And, in particular, I want to focus on Ted Cruz." Wagner quoted Bartlett: "There's a slight possibility that Boehner is a genius and the tea party will die a well-deserved death in the next few days. Fingers crossed."
Quoting Republican critics of a Republican senator is reasonable professional journalism -- and the liberals in the media know it. So, too, do the Republican critics, especially the cowardly "anonymous" ones. (It's just too bad journalists can never seem to find Democratic critics of a Democratic president -- e.g., Sen. Max Baucus presciently observing that Obamacare would be a "train wreck.")
The media were especially excited about the latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll showing a 53 percent negative rating for the Republican Party, and just 24 percent positive. NBC's Savannah Guthrie pounded away at Sen. Bob Corker about how the results are "absolutely devastating to Republicans."
Does that mean to all Republicans or just the conservatives? On "Hardball," Chris Matthews explained it: