During the Reagan years, and even during the Gingrich years, the central complaint about the mainstream media by conservatives was that they misrepresented the substance of our policy proposals. A 4.5 percent budget increase (after adjusting for inflation and the size of the beneficiary class) of the hot lunch program was characterized by the media as a cruel cut in the program that would leave poor little children hungry and with empty tummies, thus causing empty minds. (The second part was true, but that was due to the damage caused by National Education [SIC] Association -- not the government-provided nutrition programs.)
A guarantee that the current traditional Medicare program would remain available for any beneficiary who wanted to participate in it was called an end to such benefits. Increases in spending were called cuts. Guarantees were called broken commitments.
Reagan's war efforts to defeat communism and create democracies in Central America were called support for fascism and brutal right-wing regimes. (Funnily, the effect of his "support of fascism" resulted in an unprecedented blossoming of democracies in Central America.)
Oh, for the good old days. Then, at least the media cared about the substance of our proposals -- even if they lied about them. (Of course they also calumniated the personalities of conservative leaders, but that was only part of the coverage. We should have been grateful.)
Today, big media has lost interest in policy substance almost altogether. Analyses of major policy announcements are viewed, almost exclusively, through the prism of polling numbers.
If the president were to call for two plus two to equal four, the media would report that such a proposal had the support of only 42 percent of likely voters, and a slippage of even conservative support from 87 percent to 63 percent. Perhaps on the jump page, in the 38th inch of the story in the New York Times, they might get around to quoting a professor of mathematics from MIT to the effect that, in fact, the president was right that two plus two still equals four. But for television and radio break news, the story would end at the polling result, which is bad news for the president.
What brings this melancholy observation to mind was the grotesque non-reporting of President Bush's arguably historic remarks last week concerning the nature of the enemy in the "War on Terror," that until last week was the enemy of which we dared not mention the name.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.