John Leo

The unfamiliar part of Anderson’s article is the rising conservative impact on pop culture. In comedy, it’s not just Dennis Miller, the first major comedian fully identified with the right. On cable, conservative humor -- or at least, antiliberal humor -- pops up all the time. Colin Quinn, like Miller a veteran of Saturday Night Live, skewers liberal pieties regularly on Comedy Central’s popular Tough Crowd. I once asked a thoughtful liberal friend: “Why does the message of the left seem to penetrate the whole of pop culture?” His answer -- “We make the culture; you don’t” -- doesn’t seem so obvious now.

The showpiece of antiliberal humor is one that appalls a good many conservatives: South Park, Comedy Central’s wildly popular cartoon saga of four crude and incredibly foul-mouthed little boys. The show mocks mindless lefty celebrities and takes swipes at the gay lobby and the abortion lobby. Some examples: Getting Gay With Kids is a homosexual choir that descends on the school. And the mother of one South Parker decides she wants to abort him (“It’s my body”), despite the fact that he’s 8 years old. The weekly disclaimer on the show says it is so offensive “it should not be viewed by anyone.” This is a new paradigm in pop culture: conventional liberalism is the old, rigid establishment. The antiliberals are brash, funny, and cool. Who would have thought?

Some of the new conservative success is due to the rise of a large crop of commentators the left has not been able to match. Mostly young and often very funny, they include Mark Steyn, Jonah Goldberg, Michelle Malkin, and Jeff Jacoby. But most of the conservative gains have been in new media. Fox News’s large audience skews young, and half its viewers are either liberal or centrist. So Fox isn’t just preaching to the choir. It’s exposing nonconservatives to conservative ideas.

As mentioned here several times, the “blogosphere” -- the world of Internet commentators -- tilts strongly to the right. Bloggers like Andrew Sullivan, Mickey Kaus, and Glenn Reynolds of InstaPundit have a heavy impact. No excess of the liberal media seems to escape their attention. Among other things, they have mercilessly attacked Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist and idol of America’s angriest liberals. It has been an amazing and, I think, largely successful campaign of informed detraction.

It was obvious that the democratization of the media would bring new voices into the field, but who knew that so many of those voices would be conservative, libertarian, or just cantankerously opposed to entrenched liberal doctrine? The conservative side is far from winning the culture wars, but the debate is broader and fairer now. The near monopoly is over.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

Be the first to read John Leo's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.