In the months following September 11, comedian Bill Maher’s show “Politically Incorrect” was suddenly cancelled. Later, Aaron McGruder’s acclaimed comic strip, “The Boondocks”, where the protagonist badmouths conservatives, was quietly removed from many newspapers. The media turned the South’s fanatical backlash towards the Dixie Chicks (following their anti-Bush speech) into a full-fledged circus; fanning the flames rather than informing the public of what the inciting incident was.
Throughout President Bush’s term thus far, “liberal” voices in most branches of the media have been silenced one by one. This has been done methodically. Were I a calculating, white-cat-stroking villain, I would look at this with admiration; rising from my seat with hands clapping (like hypothetical ones over the mouths of democratic pundits); begging for more. Since I’m not a super villain, I instead look upon this methodical silencing of the left-wing of the political spectrum in disgust and horror, as all those who don’t shy from calling themselves “liberals” should.
When I watch news stations and inevitably end up deafened by the shouting of one right-wing pundit or another (some of whom even having been given their own shows for reasons I can’t begin to imagine), I find myself thinking that the state of political discussion in the media can’t get any worse. Sadly, most times that thought crosses my mind I quickly end up being proved wrong. You see, no matter how badly the left-wing pundits are outnumbered in today’s media, conservatives still seem to think nothing of it to dismiss any questions and/or comments presented to them that they dislike with a shrug and a proclamation of how unfair “the liberal media” is to them.
Let’s get this straight: the very idea of there being a “liberal media” to speak of is a preposterous myth. If there ever was a “liberal media”, it has gone the way of the Unicorn and the Centaur. How could the media possibly be of a liberal mindset when the very word “liberal” is treated like a swear-word?
I mean; compare the number of new books in the “social sciences” section of any bookstore written by conservative pundits to the number written by liberals! The conservatives outnumber the liberals to ridiculous extent, and I would know; I’ve worked in both of the major American bookstore chains this year. The conservatives also have contracts for their own radio or television shows served to them upon silver platters (Rush Limbaugh and Chris Matthews being at the forefront of them). I’m unabashedly liberal to huge extents, and in all honesty, even I can’t think of more than one or two liberal pundits who get their own TV shows or book deals; and those few I can think of are comedians by profession and pundits only by hobby.
Bill Maher recently began a new political discussion series, though he’s now banished to the exponentially smaller paying audience of HBO. The perks of his series now being aired on HBO are that he and his guests can speak their minds without having the corporate sponsors breathing down their necks. Well, in theory, anyway. Really; Maher and his liberal guests try to speak their minds but the conservative guests drown them out with sheer volume.
Yes; the “liberal media” is dead, though the term is still used for the right wing’s fun and profit. The Republican Party has conquered near all forms of media with a relentless campaign of shouting so loud that any opposing views go unheard. No wonder Rush Limbaugh is so successful; he’s built like an opera singer (according to comedian / pundit Al Franken, anyway).
Dan Goldstein can be contacted at [email protected]