Prepping the '08 Media Battlefield

Party activists and primary voters will choose the 2008 presidential candidates, but the party that dominates the news media will have an enormous advantage in forming public opinion and thus producing votes in the general election. Unsurprisingly, only the Democrats are fighting this battle. Their campaign to shape the media battlefield for 2008 — and Republicans’ failure to do the same — may cost Republicans the White House.

The hard-core Michael Moore types who control the Democratic Party have been at war with Fox News since it debuted. They argue that Fox is what it isn’t, an apologist for the Bush administration. In truth, Fox is usually what it says it is: fair and balanced. But the Dems don’t want news, they want spin that supports their political agenda. They can’t stand the fact that the advent of Fox broke liberals’ near-monopoly on the national news stage.

The libs hadn’t gained much traction in their war against Fox until Bill Clinton unleashed his rhetorical poison gas attack on Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace last year. Clinton’s expertise in victimology allowed him to go on the attack against Wallace and Fox while making viewers (and more importantly, columnists and pundits of the left) believe Clinton had been set up and attacked unfairly. Clinton succeeded in bringing the moonbat war against Fox into the Democrats’ mainstream. Last week the war on Fox escalated when liberals hyperventilated against Fox’s involvement in a planned August presidential candidates’ debate in Nevada. When the Michael Moore types screeched, the Nevada Democratic Party cancelled Fox’s involvement in the debate and is now, according to the March 10 Las Vegas Review-Journal, seeking a more “appropriate” television partner.

The Review-Journal suggested “The Comedy Channel” to replace Fox, which immediately made me think, “I wish I had written that.” But that’s the wrong reaction because this is a serious issue. Why are the liberals so adamant that Fox be marginalized? Why aren’t Republicans fighting back against the media that do so much damage to them?

To understand the Dems’ anger with Fox you have to understand “the Torch.” Robert Torricelli was a New Jersey congressman for six terms before getting elected to the Senate in 1996. He was a rising star, head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee in 2000, helping the Dems gain five Senate seats. But there were problems with “the Torch.” Such as the fact Torricelli had a personal code of ethics equal to Bill Clinton’s.

The growing investigation into Torricelli’s fundraising showed many apparent violations of federal campaign laws and his accepting tens of thousands of dollars in improper gifts (shopping sprees, Rolex watches and the like) from one David Chang, who was later convicted of illegal contributions to Torricelli. Chang was a major donor to the Bill Clinton defense fund, apparently channeling money provided by the Chinese government. Torricelli was forced to withdraw from the 2002 senate race.

The coverage of Torricelli illustrates perfectly why the libs are at war against Fox. If you look back on the Fox News website, you’ll find about fifty stories reporting the Torricelli investigation going back to the spring of 2001. Compare that to the New York Times coverage of Torricelli and you’ll find almost nothing on “Torch” in the Times until Fox blew the whistle. (According to one source familiar with the inner workings of the Times, one well-known reporter threatened to resign in protest of his editors burying the Torricelli story.)

The left hates Fox because it reports things that ABC, NBC, CBS, the New York Times and the Washington Post would otherwise conceal from the public.

The war on Fox will continue, because the libs know it’s essential to prepare the battlefield for the 2008 election. If they can marginalize Fox — and even revive the old “fairness doctrine” to kill conservative talk radio — they could restore the left’s monopoly on national news. So what are Republicans doing in response? Nothing.

While Republicans need to defend Fox, they should spend much more time attacking the liberal media that work against them relentlessly. Republicans can’t seem to understand the fact that many media outlets have gone beyond bias and into political activism. These folks contrive stories that are, in effect, political ads for Democrats or attack ads against Republicans and pass them off as news. They perform the same job as liberal “527 groups” that make attack ads against the president. In effect, the New York Times, ABC, NBC, CBS and the Washington Post are the “527 Media.”

Voters know there’s something wrong with the media. Talk to people outside the Washington Beltway and their constant refrain is that they don’t trust the 527 Media. By failing to take on the media, Republicans are missing one of the great issues that could galvanize support for them all across the nation.

It’s been decades since then Vice President Spiro Agnew gave his “nattering nabobs of negativism” speech condemning the press. If Dick Cheney gave a speech that poked fun at the media and used the dreaded “l” word on them — properly labeling them liberals — Americans would respond with enthusiasm.

The Republican National Committee could do even more with television ads poking fun at the media. As I’ve written before those ads could just document the shenanigans of the typical mainstream media newsroom. These aren’t businesses run by adults: they’re dysfunctional liberal families with all the foibles and insecurities you’d find among the worst of Hollywood. Get some good comedy writers to do it, and those ads would be hotter than previews for “Desperate Housewives.”

If the Republicans did this it would be them, and not the hyperliberal Dems, who have prepared the electoral battlefield for 2008. It wouldn’t guarantee a win, but it would pave the way against the media onslaught to which any Republican candidate will be subjected. All it would take is some courage among the Republican leadership. Which is probably too much to hope for.