38 thoughts on “Conservatainment!

  1. Mike Kennedy says:

    That’s brutal. I am sophmoric. I like sexual innuendo and stupid humor (I love Dumb and Dumber, Wedding Crashers, Old School, all the Austin Powers movies etc.), but this is just not funny.

    That said, those on the right hardly have cornered the market on preconceived world views and comfort zones. And those who only watch Fox and read the National Review are no more insulated than those who only watch MSNBC and read The Nation.

  2. Joe Loveland says:

    Absent one piece of evidence, I’d be inclined to agree with you that conservatives are not more inclined to seek the self-reinforcing echo chamber. The evidence is talk radio. Conservative talk radio – where conservatives go to hear conservative dogma – is a big hit and liberal talk radio – where liberals to to hear liberal dogma – is a big flop. That makes me wonder.

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      Right, why do you think that is? No equally compelling entertainment personalities on the politically liberal side of things? Or is it something deeper in the character of the liberal disposition: less vulnerable to dogma of any kind in the first place; open to a solidly expressed viewpoint whatever its origin or message? (The foundation of a good liberal education, right?)

      1. 108 says:

        No, it isn’t right, or correct, or factual. Invulnerability to dogma or openness to viewpoints are not the foundation of a liberal education.

        This is rote to the umpteenth this business of paying yourselves compliments by identifying flaws in the conservative psyche.

    2. Mike Kennedy says:

      Well, let’s be realistic here. When more than 80 percent of journalists identify themselves as liberal, it’s no wonder that conservatives turn to talk radio.

      Liberals don’t need talk radio as their “echo chamber.” They have plenty of media outlets and editorial pages to confirm their views. I spent 10 years in various newsrooms. I met one conservative.

      I think it is massive stretch to equate liberal dogma with a liberal arts education. I know a number of people on the far left who wouldn’t take a minute to consider a conservative point of view because it doesn’t fit their world view. I know moderate liberals who wouldn’t, either.

      However, conservatives on talk radio with opposite opinions are tagged as “radical” and “extremist.”

      Even Slick Willie had to get in on the action by making a feeble attempt to connect talk radio and Tea Party members to violence and extremism — despite there being no proven link whatsoever.

      As I said, extremism isn’t limited to one party or race or religion. Look at the groups that called for Bush to be murdered, or compared him to Hitler or raved that he committed treason and tell me one side has an advantage when it comes to reason, thoughtful discourse and open minds.

      1. Dennis Lang says:

        Okay MK–I have to go but if the statistic is true how is it that the profession attracts such a high percentage of those with a liberal bent.?The best of my education, including the one journalism course I ever took was to encourage the 360 degree view. The first term paper we were asked to write in Freshman English was to explore dropping the bomb from both pro–and con persepectives, developing an argument for each. “Liberal” in the broad sense, no? An open mind has to be critical to good journalism I would think–and also politically.

    3. Joe Loveland says:

      108, you say “no (my post about conservative talk radio being more successful than liberal talk radio) isn’t right or factual.”

      Do you disagree that conservative talk radio is more successful than liberal talk radio? That was my only factual contention in that post. Actually, I have no idea what the roots of that phenomenon are, but the existence of the phenomenon does perplex me and make wonder why it is so.

      1. 108 says:

        I was addressing Dennis re liberal education. I’m a pedantic literalist, and was pointing out he’s tieing an argument to an incorrect definition.

        I can add though – talk radio is among few places to hear public affairs programming, such as it is. Anecdotally I find cross listening to NPR very high among conservatives who listen to talk radio.

        For those who make a ‘closed loop’ point about conservatives and talk radio, their media consumption habits don’t mean what you think it means.

  3. 108 says:

    It’s not as if RightNetwork isn’t ripe for satire if it ever gets off the ground. It sure would be ripe for satire. I’m curious about your assumptions though, Joe.

    The Office: Mumbai. How’s that tied to conservatism. Why should my sides be splitting?

    Do you really find WASPs a powerful force in modern conservatism and contemporary life? What is the factual basis for the stereotype that WASPs are conservatives? Is there one? FDR was a WASP.

    Here’s a better one – funnier – that makes the same point. American Idol: All Lee Greenwood.

    That last one – do you know any conservative women? That isn’t the way it is. Which is just to say, for stereotypical humor to be funny there needs to be at least a reality based context.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Re: Mumbai. W’s chief economic guy, Gregory Mankiw: “When a good or service is produced more cheaply abroad, it makes more sense to import it than to make or provide it domestically. …outsourcing is just a new way of doing international trade. More things are tradable than were tradable in the past and that’s a good thing.”

      Re: WASP. Surveys show whites and males are disproportionately Republican. I must admit that I’ve never seen Anglo Saxon data, so perhaps I’ve overstepped there. My apologies.

      1. 108 says:

        Mankiw merely states fact. This anecdote does not tie the practice of offshoring to conservatism.

        Whiteness and malesness do not maketh a WASP. Additional attributes narrow the definition substantially. It’s a social / class construct, not a biological construct.

        Rather than offensive, it’s ironic. Your satire’s linkages to reality are weak and lack authenticity. Yet it’s apparently humorous / funny to those within the homogenous clique. They are able to reference the satire to an imaginary context they’ve created and maintained for those outside the clique. Laugh on cue, while insisting it’s the conservatives that are mingling and communicating within a closed loop.

      2. Joe Loveland says:

        Fair enough. My flippant comment perhaps should have been “The Amazing Race (a documentary about white males).”

    2. Dennis Lang says:

      Good one 108 (but I don’t get it). My comment above of course is speculative. Not “invulnerable”,concievably “less” vulnerable. Not my intention to pay anyone compliments, but to question if there is a certain psychology more threatened by contrarian viewpoints. You don’t feel essential to a liberal education is precisely to prepare a student to “think”; an openess to possibilty?

  4. Newt says:

    There’s no credible evidence to suggest liberals have a lock on open-mindedness.

    Academia, government, the media, and public schools are the very last places you will find tolerance of diversity of opinion.

    1. Mike Kennedy says:

      Where did the guy writing this get his M.D. in psychiatry?

      And where can I get some of the drugs he obviously is ingesting and prescribing for himself?

  5. john sherman says:

    As I understand it RightNetworks began by claiming support from Comcast, which Comcast aggressively denied; this leads me to conclude that they’re swindlers which may or may not make them conservative.

    Eric Alterman in What Liberal Media goes back to the original study that gives birth to the claim that the media is overwhelmingly liberal, and the evidence is, to put it politely, unpersuasive. My guess is that the actual case is that, going back to the 30’s when the NYTimes was liberal as long as the subject was not child labor and right to exploit paper boys, the media are economically conservative when the subject is their wallet and socially liberal as the media tend to have diverse social experiences. I do however get a little tired of the “both sides do it” line when both sides don’t do it. The facile comparison of FOX and MSNBC ignores the fact while MSNBC has three liberal commentators, Ed, KO and Rachel (I haven’t watched Ratigan), it also turns over three hours a day to Joe Scarborough, who is a doctrinaire conservative. The balancing of Glenn Beck with Rachel Maddow is completely nuts.

    1. Mike Kennedy says:

      What a hoot. First of all, Eric Alterman is what poltical persuasion? A guy who writes a book “Why We’re Liberals” and a columnist for the Nation.

      The evidence is overwhelming — both statistically and anecdotally, and as I have referenced before there is plenty to dispute about Alterman’s findings. Many journalists themselves even identify themselves with voting liberal.

      http://reason.com/archives/2003/07/01/media-critic-critique-thyself

      You cannot deny the surveys done over the past 25 years that show journalists consistently identify with liberals.

      Those of us who have been around real newsrooms don’t need to even read the research, though I have.

      There is no balancing between Beck and Maddow. I don’t watch the guy, but he eats her lunch (and dinner) when it comes to ratings.

      Liberals get themselves worked into a lather about Fox News and talk radio. It appears these outlets are appealing to a lot of Americans. Perhaps there is something to be pondered here beyond liberal dogma that most people watching and listening to these programs are gullible, uninformed, uneducated rednecks.

      1. First of all, proof that reporters might be personally liberal is NOT proof that their product is liberal. Second – if the media really was liberally biased wouldn’t they constantly report that the media was conservatively biased? Why do so many people *believe* the media is liberal, when that is clearly not the case?

      2. john sherman says:

        As A.J. Liebling pointed more than 60 years ago (his Wayward Pressman material in the New Yorker is the best media criticism ever), you have to look not so much at Jimmy Olsen, cub reporter, but at the beliefs of the people who own the big media–not many liberals there. Sneer at the Nation all you want, but it is the one opinion journal, ever since Mary Peretz made the New Republic the neocon home companion and a financial failure, that that makes a profit, however tenuous. The National Review, Weekly Standard, like the New York Post and Washington Times, are conservative welfare projects; it their staffs actually had to live by the free enterprise standards they claim to espouse, they’d all be working in car washes.

        The interesting thing is how small all the cable news numbers are; I don’t think there is any news/opinion show that reaches more than 1% of the population. The AP a while ago had the number of auditors for NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me and that was higher than the numbers for any single cable news show, but for some reason Beck, Olbermann and Larry King are more important than Charlie Pierce, P.J. O’Rourke and Paula Poundstone, and the reason is not because they’re smarter or better informed.

        If there is a liberal media, why were there 200 reporters covering the tea bagger convention in Nashville with 600 attendees? I’d be amazed if 200 reporters in toto covered the last decade’s worth of AFL-CIO conventions.

  6. Joe Loveland says:

    My larger point with this original post was not about alleged conservative media bias or alleged conservative narrow mindedness. My point was about the increasing compartmentalization of our politics, where we all, liberals and conservatives, increasingly go off into separate corners of the decentralized media world to hear only what we want to hear. I think that’s very dangerous for our democracy.

    But on the ever-popular issue of alleged liberal bias, I do think the metric for the conversation should be output – what is actually reported in news coverage – rather than input – reporters’ personal viewpoints. We shouldn’t automatically conclude that Mike and I are secret white supremacists simply because we are white and were shaped in a white dominated culture, and we shouldn’t automatically conclude that reporters secretly are favoring liberals because they disproprtionately are personally liberal. Mike and I should be judged on our actions, and so should reporters. Reporter’s OUTPUT — which is influenced mightily by conservative management and ownership of news outlets, a reporting formula used by many outlets that requires the reporting of both sides of an issue, a natural bias toward entertaining and conflict-oriented stories, and a tendency to compensate or overcompensate for personal views — is what should be judged.

    1. Mike Kennedy says:

      No, really, Rob.

      Does this person have any evidence or studies to prove this out? Anything in the New England Journal of Medicine or the Journal of the American Medical Association or any other research publication that shows that conservatives have childhood issues?

      If we are just making suppositions based on inherent biases or stereotypes, where does that get us?

      1. Mike Kennedy says:

        Joe:

        You and Rob are not understanding me. Read my above post carefully. I agree with you. We should judge them by their actions. I didn’t say coverage was always biased. What I said, clearly, is that many major newspapers are liberal on their editorial pages and their are many other liberal outlets.

        The WSJ and Washington Times are exceptions. They are conservative editorial pages with a liberal thrown in here and there (think Thomas Frank in the WSJ case).

        What I also said was that reporters self identify as liberal. I didn’t say news coverage always reflects that. What I did say was that they are human and to expect them to be objective is a tall order.

      2. As a matter of fact, yes, Mike, it IS backed up by social science research. The book, The Politics of Denial is heavily footnoted and gives credit to any number of researchers. Harsh child rearing leads to authoritarian, punitive personalities learned from experience. In the US, it is primarily the Republican Party that provides an outlet for these feelings, although of course some Democrats do too. There is a term, after all, called “liberal hawks.”

      3. From The Politics of Denial: “The majority of authoritarians fall on the conservative end of the political spectrum…virtually all authoritarians are politically conservative, but not all political conservatives are authoritarians.” So – I’m not calling you an authoritarian.

      4. Joe Loveland says:

        Gotcha Mike. I was talking about news coverage, not commentary. Bias is “a preference or an inclination, especially one that inhibits impartial judgment.” Because commentary isn’t billed by news outlets as impartial, I guess I don’t think of it as being part of the media bias debate.

      5. 108 says:

        What’s the context, because its certain virtually all authoritarians – historically – have not fallen on the the conservative end of the political spectrum. You have to be a slave to a tin-foil hat worldview to believe it in the face of decades of history to the contrary.

        I mean, I know that’s what I’m afraid of – the Tea Partiers and their imposition of authoritarian Rand-ian libertariansim….where everyone is in danger of being… left alone.

        It’s completely ridiculous.

      6. PM says:

        108 is right (about not being able to limit this attribute just to conservatives)–the whole authoritarian mind set/psychology thing started with Hannah Arendt after WWII as a means of trying to explain Hitler AND Stalin.

      7. The point isn’t the connection between authoritarians and the “word” conservative – it is that authoritarians are drawn to punitive politics based on their own personal psychologies. Whichever party in a particular place or time appeals to authoritarians will get their allegiance. Hitler appealed to authoritarians by appealing to their punitive nature and desire for order. He scapegoated Jews, gays, etc. and promised to restore order. Stalin scapegoated others but still tried to establish a strong order.

        It is conservatives in the US in the modern era who practice a politics that is appealing to authoritarians. If they suddenly started acting in a less scapegoating and more open-to-everyone manner they would stop attracting authoritarians. But don’t hold your breath on that.

      8. PM says:

        Rob:

        do you think it is the scapegoating or the appeal to order that draws authoritarians? Personally, i would think that it is the appeal to order more than the scapegoating.

      9. PM – Both. Milburn and Conrad write:

        “We have seen that authoritarians’ denial of the pain of childhood abuse leads to glorification of the punitive parents and uncritical adoration of other authority figures. It is also likely to produce over-reliance on external controls on behavior.”

  7. PM says:

    Joe_ have you looked at this?

    http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2010/04/how-politically-segregated-is-the-internet.html

    It suggests that most people who go to Glenn Beck’s web site also go to the NYT website, and vice versa–that there is a lot more cross fertilization on the web than there is with other media. Not only does web based media make it easier to get info from a variety (specifically, a political variety) or sources, but that people actually do so.

    Maybe not all is lost…

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      Interesting PM. A long time since I read Hannah Arendt–along with Gunter Grass–in Humanities 101. Any specific titles or essays come to mind?

  8. Dennis Lang says:

    And while we’re at it. Can we begin to imagine the effect of video games–increasingly realistic and violent–on future generations? How might these narratives emphasizing speed of reaction and pre-emptive strike rather than anything remotely reflecting reasoned response influence self-understanding? As these kids of today mature are they more likely to see themselves in terms of mastering others rather than understanding them? Of controling others rather than rendering assistance to one another?

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