WASHINGTON -- Has it been noted that the country's political disagreements are becoming increasingly violent? About 15 years ago, the "angry left" appeared on the scene, and its indignant members got a lot of attention from the media. The enormous volume of press attention signaled the media's manifest approval, if sotto voce. Next came the Occupiers' movement, and again, these ruffians came with the media's approval, at least sotto voce. Then, gun-toting cowards began shooting people for humanitarian reasons, and the media did not know what to think. The assassination attempt on Rep. Steve Scalise and his colleagues comes to mind.
The right, too, has its violent practitioners. It has the "alt-right," neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. The violence at Charlottesville, Virginia, was a high-water mark for these creeps. The alt-right and its competitors seem to have faded a bit as of late, but it is still out there. It is kept in the news, oddly enough, by its criminality, though the media never approves of it, even sotto voce. Yet the media never misses an opportunity to report on its malevolent behavior, often with inflated figures. As I have noted for years, without the media's attention, these creeps would be mere curiosities. Even the left-wing practitioners of violence are pretty much marginal, though they have snappier slogans.
Meanwhile, the theater of operations has shifted to cable television, where the violence is more gentlemanly and ladylike. In fact, it is not even violence. It is only rhetoric: insults exchanged, vituperations heaved and occasional syllogisms deposited. On one side, the left is posing as a mainstream host. On the other side are the self-proclaimed conservatives. The left calls us intolerable extremists, racists, and its members intimate that some of us are the prosopopoeia of the alt-right. We on the right remain gentlemen and ladies. We do not call those on the left socialists, cranks and mentally unbalanced, unless we have to.
Recently, the left escalated things. It threatened the right's advertisers. With typical bluster, it threatened to unleash its hoards, and the more timorous corporate titans bowed to the left, or at least temporarily bowed to the left. When they found that the left's threats were mostly hollow, they returned. Some such as the noble CEO Mike Lindell of MyPillow never left. I bought two of his pillows, and I may buy a third for pillow fights with my grandson.
The left began threatening the right back in 2012 when it called upon radio host Rush Limbaugh's advertisers to cancel their ads on his show. He had allegedly slandered then-Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke. Remember her? Rush held fast. Jeff Lord, the commentator, printed the cowardly advertisers' names, and they crept back to Rush, though Rush was very discerning about who he would take back.
Now the left, notwithstanding its guff about free speech, has turned on Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. Again the left threatens their advertisers. Yet this time, Sean and Laura have the support of a real champion of the First Amendment, and a pretty good businessman, too: Rupert Murdoch. He is the one person in America who has broken the left's monopoly on media with his Fox News. Bravo once again, Rupert!
About 20 years ago, as Fox gained influence, I noticed the battle lines forming. I sensed that there would be an attack on Fox advertisers. After all, the left had turned on newspapers some years before for running conservative columnists. It had been pretty successful at influencing newspapers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and other left-wing havens to drop their conservative columnists. So much for the newspapers' claptrap in defense of the First Amendment. There is only one Rupert Murdoch. The result was fewer readers of newspapers. Now those boring newspapers are going out of business.
At the time, I told the media watchdog Reed Irvine that he ought to expand his army of monitors and encourage them to write letters to the editors of their hometown newspapers praising them for publishing both sides. Surely, the editors would appreciate an occasional pat on the back. They could not possibly be happy with the growing acrimony on their pages -- could they? Quite possibly, and certainly, many of the editors are happy with things as they are today. Most are members of today's mainstream media. They would rather travel with the herd than be controversial.
At any rate, Irvine did not take my advice. The media became angrier and angrier, and now audiences are hoping other media entrepreneurs will follow Murdoch's lead. Once again, bravo, Rupert!