Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Your Technocrat "Liberal" Post Du Jour

This is from Howie The Putz's book, Hot Air: All Talk All The Time. How to describe it? Uh, informative yet terrible. You just have to know how to read crap such as this, sort of like the old commie masses had to learn how to read Pravda.

"Michael [Kinsley] has been polarized," Mort Kondrake says. "He is a much more subtle thinker than you could ever be on Crossfire. If you only do combat on television all the time, it does scramble your brain."

Ah, you say, Kondrake makes the Jon Stewart argument with which we are familiar and to which we are amenable. And he is -- to a point. But he also means something else entirely. Actually, Kondrake is bemoaning the fact that Kinsley is forced, through the show's format, to appear more liberal than he actually is. You see, if all was right in the world, Kinsley would stick to his centrist guns. But Kondrake is an idiot: of course Kinsley sticks to his centrist guns.

"Mike looks absurd saying 'from the left' every night," says Christopher Hitchens. "It's hypocritical on the part of both him and the network."

Kinsley concedes that he does not uphold the liberal banner the way [Pat] Buchanan champions conservatism. In fact, he calls himself "a wishy-washy moderate." But he insists it's not necessarily bad for liberalism that he is less ideological than his right-wing counterpart.

"Certainly real hard-core, left-wing opinions don't get on Crossfire, just as they don't get on other shows," he says. "This is partly because a reflection of the range of American political debate, from extreme right to moderate left. And it's partly a knee-jerk reaction by television producers."

Naturally, since Kurtz is a hack, he makes no comment on this meaty quote. He just accepts it -- as his friend Rush Limbaugh would say -- as the way things ought to be. Actually, Kinsley is exactly right, extreme right is continually represented in the media, while the "left" viewpoint is objectively centrist: it's only "left" relative to the viewpoint of Buchanan, Limbaugh, Will, etc.

That's the way things are. Yet read Kinsley's take again. It's obviously implied that "television producers" structure these shows to the objective benefit of the right either because a) it's a reflection the "range of American political debate" or b) whim. He's without curiousity; he accepts it as a given, even as a natural state of affairs, that it's fair to have an objectively rightwing national dialogue, and the media representations of such, as on Crossfire, accurately mirror those among the populace. No no no, Kinsley. There is a reason why "television producers", who have bosses (hint hint), structure these shows in this way. And such shows don't reflect squat: they manufacture the "acceptable" bounds of national debate. They do the influencing; not vice-versa. Yet you play right along with it, never stopping to think why that is, much less think of the next step, "qui bono?"

Occasionally, because the reactionaries on the right are so goddamn ..well, reactionary, the "liberal", like Kinsley, is forced to argue further left than he would rather (but still not so far left to be, in reality, Left). This is the real basis of Kondrake's objection, not some noble Jon Stewart-esque dissent.

This post is dedicated to Matthew Yglesias, Kinsley's heir-apparent, and to Kevin Drum (loather of Robert Scheer, admirer of Max Boot), our replacement-level Morton Kondrake.