Wednesday, January 01, 2003

More on the liberal media. Jim Rutenberg has a front-page piece in this morning's New York Times on efforts by a few Democratic activists to build a liberal media to counter the likes of the Fox News Channel, Rush Limbaugh's radio show, and the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times.

Sorry, but it's not going to work. Conservatives might enjoy absorbing talking points from the Republican National Committee, but that's not how it happens with liberals. As I've argued before, there are liberal media -- most of the mainstream media are liberal, as conservatives have long contended -- but they work differently from the conservative media. Telling liberals what to think is like herding cats.

The cutting edge of the liberal media are the Times itself and National Public Radio, the size of whose audience rivals Limbaugh's 20 million weekly listeners. The network newscasts, which can reach a combined total of 30 million viewers a night depending on what's going on in the news, are another outpost.

But the mainstream media, though overwhelmingly liberal on cultural issues such as gay rights and reproductive choice, are moderate to conservative on economics and trade issues. Elite liberal opinion is as contemptuous of organized labor, for instance, as elite conservative opinion is. And the Times has been virtually alone in raising serious questions about the Bush administration's aggressive policy toward Iraq.

The difference between the large, amorphous liberal media and the relatively small but cohesive conservative media is that the latter are ideologically in tune with the Republican Party and loyal to its candidates. The liberal media aren't going to take their marching orders from the Democratic National Committee. Even if they did, their audience would tune out.

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