The Lonely Centrist

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Insipid Press

I find sometimes that I can't say enough bad things, or come up with enough bad words, to describe the American press. Trite, insipid, stupid, vacuuous, foolish, and pusilanimous, are just a few words that come to mind.

One has set me off today is Dick Polman's column. It's pretty simple, really. Polman is arguing that the President has handed the Democrats a big political issue by vetoing federal funding for stem cell research. Polman notes that this research is supported even by a majority of Republicans, not to mention Democrats and independents. All true, and it may be a gift to Democrats.

But note that not once does Polman suggest that anything motivated the White House to cast its first veto in nearly 6 years except political calculation - because of his "fealty to the religious right." Polman thinks of himself as so smart, so worldly wise and cynical, but he's an idiot. Why would Bush take such a move, which, for all the reasons Polman outlines, is horrible for the GOP's fall electoral prospects, based on political calculation? It's even bad for Bush's own poll numbers, just when they were rebounding. This is the same type of reporting we saw a year ago when the Republicans in Congress took up the Terri Schiavo case. But in fact, it is always the reporting. It seems beyond Polman's comprehension that maybe, just maybe, the President is willing to damage his own poll numbers and risk the seats of vulnerable Republicans such as Rick Santorum precisely because he actually believes in his position. And maybe, just maybe, that position actually raises serious moral concerns, as recognized by non-journalists.

In the end, Polman's column, like so much reporting nowadays, not only does nothing to help us understand the issues underlying support or opposition to federal funding of stem cell research - it doesn't even help us understand the politics, because Polman is so smugly cynical that he can't consider the most obvious explanations for what is going on. But we shouldn't be too hard on Polman - his reporting is typical, not atypical.

Recently, Karl Rove lashed out at the press for their "corrosive" influence on public dialogue, with their focus on "process and not substance." I'm not a big Rove fan, but on this one I think he hit the nail on the head.

  • The Skeptic
  • Andrew Sullivan
  • Michael Barone
  • The New Republic
  • National Review
  • Democracy Project
  • Bob Bauer
  • Center for Competitive Politics
  • Ryan Sager
  • Going to the Matt
  • Professor Bainbridge
  • Volokh Conspiracy
  • Mystery Pollster
  • Amitai Etzioni
  • Alexander Chrenkoff
  • Middle East Media Research Institute
  • Right Democrat
  • Democrats for Life