Emmett Tyrrell

WASHINGTON -- Well, I have just lost an argument with Brent Bozell, head of that indispensable media monitor, the Media Research Center. MRC has for many years reviewed the daily media for liberal bias -- an onerous task, that. Some of his young staffers after a week of taking in the blah from the networks, the major daily newspapers and the newsmagazines are in danger of having suffered irreparable damage to their health. The eyes become bloodshot, the ears ring. The unfortunate young monitors develop that blank look that one sees on the faces of TV anchors, especially on cable news, after a day of reading the same news stories over and over. Through their brains the stories keep running on an endless audio feed: "In Baghdad today a bomb went off ... The fires in the California foothills today threatened … And now that story about a cat in Cape Girardeau, Mo., that has been found living happily at the bottom of a pond."

The poor souls have these stories running interminably through their embattled cocos. At MRC they suffer from monitoring the liberal bilge. At CNN they suffer from iterating the bilge … and apparently believing it. At any rate, Bozell runs the whole operation, trying all the time to keep us aware of the extent of the liberal bias, a bias that is so thick that it is ceaselessly in danger of presenting as fact utter fantasy and occasionally utter hysteria, for instance, the hysteria over the National Security Agency, eavesdropping on "American citizens," who incidentally, might be plotting terror with Islamofascists to blow up another choice piece of American real estate.

Bozell, lifting a figure of speech from H.L. Mencken, believes that the epitome of smugness is the smugness of an "archbishop" -- Mencken's term. I, being a devotee of America's art museums, believe that for smugness one can do no better than point to art curators. Listen to them purr of their achievements. Listen to the august tone they assume in pronouncing on a picture, a painter, Joseph R. McCarthy, Ronald W. Reagan, the glorious breakthrough Chris Ofili has made in his use of elephant manure on canvass. They are at their most insufferable when they are crooning on about their need for more government subsidies from the philistines on Capitol Hill or about "censorship in the arts." For my money, they really are a perfect replacement for Mencken's snooty bishops now that religion has been adjourned from the public square, notwithstanding the apprehensions of our worry-wart atheists.

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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