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Newt Gingrich instantly brought the crowd to its feet last night at the last debate before Saturday's all important primary in South Carolina. What was the multitude cheering? Not his stance on tax policy, or on abortion, but rather his acid assault on the “elite media.”
Gingrich expressed outrage that moderator John King of CNN would lead off the evening by asking about potentially damaging charges made by the Speaker’s second wife in an interview with ABC News's "Nightline."
The audience howled its approval as Gingrich tore into the “destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media…” As ever, the former Speaker was brilliant, evading the problematic topic of his personal indiscretions and simultaneously punching a white-hot button launching an assault on what Sarah Palin describes as the “lamestream media.”
Why are so many Americans hostile to our biggest media outlets? Because almost all the major networks and newspapers in this country are operated by liberals while three-quarters of the country describe themselves as moderate or conservative.
This is not a figment of fevered right-wing imagination. A UCLA-led study of major newspapers, TV and radio stations in 2005 concluded that “there is a quantifiable and significant bias… to the left.” Numerous record-keepers have documented that more than 80% of reporters vote for Democrats.
It’s real, it’s there, and it’s infuriating.
It’s especially infuriating when it impacts the way the media presents – and Americans then view GOP candidates.
In this cycle, President Obama is vulnerable – on our continuing high unemployment in particular and because people increasingly view him as not sharing traditional American values. The sympathetic the media is worried. Consequently, they have launched an all-out offensive against GOP candidates, especially targeting front-runner Romney and surging Newt Gingrich.
When it comes to Romney much of the withering criticism has nothing to do with policy, but focuses instead on the former Massachusetts governor's apparently infuriating wholesomeness.
In the New York Times last weekend, this irritation was on full display. Columnist Maureen Dowd makes fun of the young Romney’s affection for “The Sound of Music” (what is it about that musical that so annoys the left?) and disregard for The Grateful Dead.
She describes him as living in a “non-drinking, nonsmoking, suburban, uxorious bubble with Ann, revolving around Mormon rituals, Mormon couples, and the Mormon credo of strong, heterosexual, traditional families.” (In case you wondered, that’s meant to be a criticism.) “Uxorious” means having an excessive fondness for one’s wife – something that Ms. Dowd finds unacceptable.
She should know that rampant divorce and children born out of wedlock cost our country an estimated $112 billion in 2008; chances are the recession has driven that figure above $150 billion. Heads up- there are worse things than the enduring family.
In the same paper, Lee Siegel describes Romney as “the whitest man to run for president in recent memory.” In case that one leaves you scratching your head, Siegel explains that he means “the countless subtle and not-so-subtle ways he telegraphs that he is the cultural alternative to America’s first black president. It is a whiteness grounded in a retro vision of the country, one of white picket fences and stay-at-home moms and fathers unashamed of working hard for corporate America.”
He derides Romney for being “implacably polite, tossing off phrases like “oh gosh” with Stepford bonhomie.” In other words, shame on Romney for his decency, for having been happily married to Ann for decades and for earning a living. More important, shame on him for imagining that a great many Americans might aspire to do the same.
Are these columnists and the rest of the "mainstream media" really focusing on the concerns of American voters? The very voters who fear taxes will go up because of reckless handouts to public employee unions, see their tax dollars squandered on bankrupt Solyndra, worry that ObamaCare will limit our health care choices, see their kids’ schools failing to ready them for college or for the workplace, watch as the national debt soars to unprecedented levels, see job opportunities blown because Obama wants to court environmentalists? No, memo to Maureen Dowd, most voters are not worrying that Mitt Romney is too attentive to his wife.
The media does not limit its snark attacks to GOP candidates. Take Tim Tebow. Like a number of GOP candidates, Tebow espouses traditional values and is a devout Christian, inspiring ridicule on both counts.
Andrew Sharp, a contributor to SBNation.com, wrote before last week’s playoff game “instead of an icon to hard work and humility or a football player that's fun to watch play football, for a week at least, he's the walking, kneeling reminder of just how completely f**king insane America can be sometimes.”
What really drives Sharp nuts is that 43% of Americans trace Tim Tebow’s success to divine intervention –“the insane fans who think he's Jesus Christ in a flak jacket.”
Yes, Americans may have gone a little loopy over Tebow, but so what? These are tough times, and if people find inspiration in a clean-living, spiritual and charitable young man who can occasionally pull off surprising wins, bully for them and for him.
The media has focused on Mr. Romney, since he is in the lead, and because he is viewed as most likely to attract the all-important independent voters who elected Mr. Obama but who are deserting him in droves. That focus could shift, if someone else clinches the nomination. What will not shift is the incessant ridicule of GOP values and standards from the left.
Let us hope voters are not swayed.