The 2010 Election Was Bad; 2012 Will Be Worse
Congratulations to the GOP, which just trounced both Democrats and liberal journalists alike.
There’s only one hitch: Somebody hit the reset button and everything started over again like the movie “Groundhog Day.” The campaign for 2012 has already begun with a vengeance.
And vengeance is exactly what the losing side wants. They are angry – from journalists to pundits to the Twitterati. They want revenge and they want it in its most base forms. The Internet is a great leveler and allows everyone to express an opinion. Unfortunately, the level we’ve all settled at is somewhere deep into the gutter where bloggers offer $100,000 for a non-existent Glenn Beck sex tape.
The right has just endured nearly two years of being called racists, violent racists, Nazis and worse by the left. And yet liberals and the journalists who support them want to blame conservatives for driving the tone into the muck. Tea parties, town halls, broken promises, trillions in debt and bills no one bothered to read. None of that matters. To battle Obama means journalists have replaced the scarlet “A” with an “R” for racist.
Voters who thought that the 2008 media asault on Sarah Palin was a low point for American journalism were stunned by the unprofessionalism and outright biases of 2010. Sure, journalists side with the left. That much is expected. But when they try to demonize conservative candidates and don’t even bother investigating libs, then the lines of battle are clearly drawn.
In the 2010 low point, sleazy gossip site Gawker actually defended its anonymous and despicable invasion of the personal life of Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell. The article “I Had a One-Night Stand With Christine O'Donnell” called her a “cougar” and discussed whether she had shaved her private parts – even though the author admitted he hadn’t had sex with O’Donnell. Lucky her.
Editor Remy Stern, who would have to move up the evolutionary chain to become slime, actually defended this hit piece in an interview with The Observer where he claimed “we've sort of humanized her.” One can only hope that someday someone “humanizes” Stern. But he might have to be human for that to happen.
All of that was just an opening act. This next election will be far worse and far more expensive. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that this midterm election cost somewhere around $4 billion, not all that far from the cost of the last presidential election. Unions, big business, the Chamber of Commerce and specialty groups all funded the campaign at high levels.
But it wasn’t those high levels that caused problems. It’s the low levels: Internet commercials that cost practically nothing yet eviscerate a candidate or random attacks from marginal news outlets. Soon-to-be-unemployed Rep. Alan Grayson’s horribly lying Taliban Dan commercial or the “Aqua Buddha” attack on Rand Paul lowlight the new tone.
Two reporters from a CBS Alaska affiliate were fired for discussing/planning how to make Senate candidate Joe Miller look bad. They debated reporting on a child molester attending one of his rallies. It’s no surprise, given that level of neutrality among the press, that Miller lost.
By its content, the 2010 wasn’t the most offensive in American history. It didn’t have to be. The online assaults, the media slanders and the the outright lies all traveled at speeds unknown to previous races. Those tools and the tools who used them will be more advanced for the next election.
And it’s already begun. The Nation magazine’s year-long character assassination of former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs shows the new world warts and all. If you are in the limelight and considered at all conservative, some combination of the media and the left will come after you. So-called journalists went digging into O’Donnell’s high school spelling but ignored what her opponent did in college. This was the identical strategy news outlets used in the 2008 presidential race where The New York Times savaged John McCain’s wife Cindy for her legal drug use and never did a similar investigation into Obama’s own confessed drug activity.
But that’s gone up in a puff of smoke. For this election and beyond, conservatives can expect someone on the left to dig for every single bad thing they’ve ever done. Have a fight with your neighbor? Expect HuffingtonPost to highlight that complete with a picture of your home while Arianna Huffington goes on TV claiming to promote civility and the need to “come together.” If you are wealthy, you will be demonized for that. Believe in God? Your Christianity will be used against you in detail by liberal bloggers. Then you can watch as the so-called neutral press regurgitates whatever claims they make.
Yes, elections have always been this nasty, but never has there been such an intersection of political hit job and media recycling center. The Internet echo chamber resounds with liberal hypocrisy as attack after attack will get repeated but similar failings for liberal candidates go unremarked or uninvestigated.
It will be the same with money. The left will continue to demonize the Koch brothers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and anyone else who funds conservative candidates, ignoring how our own tax dollars underwrite identical actions from unions like AFSCME and NEA.
Even the media outlets have almost all gone entirely into the liberal camp. From Comedy Central to MTV and Univsion, so-called entertainment channels have become so blatantly pro-Democrat that their daily programming should be tallied as contributions in kind. That too will get worse.
That means the outlook for the right is bleak unless conservatives are willing to fight with everything they have. If a TV network like Comedy Central throws a major rally right before an election to boost Democrats, conservatives should immediately go after its advertisers. When the HuffingtonPost/Nation/DailyKos target a conservative, the right should be prepared to fight fire with fire.
No, that’s not the recipe for a pleasant, friendly election. We’re only a couple days into 2012 and Jon Stewart’s “civility” fantasy is already as ridiculous as his “moderate” rally. If the right wants to win in 2012, they will have to fight every single day from now until then. If conservatives won’t, they might as well give up now and spare us the robocalls.
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum. He can also be contacted on FaceBook and Twitter as dangainor.