The Dick Dialogues

Posted in: Featured | By: | July 01, 2011

When Mark Halperin made his distasteful remark about President Obama on cable TV, he provided a glimpse into the media that the right refuses to acknowledge and progressives seemingly cannot prove. Conservatives wailing about the liberal media are as wrong on that subject as they are about taxes. The media is not liberal.

Analyst or kind of a dick?

Overwhelmingly, the journalists working in national media are conservatives. There are very few of them who do not earn six figure incomes. Tax policies of George W. Bush and potential Republican presidents in 2012 are more favorable to employees of national media than are those of a President Obama trying to eliminate tax cuts to upper income brackets and reduce the deficit.

Halperin’s own dickiness is a kind of icon for the disaffection the rest of us in fly-over America feel for much of the national media. The East Coast condescension of editors and journalists who want the rest of the country to know they are smarter than the rest of us is annoying in the extreme. Halperin’s politics, in particular, have always been thinly veiled. He cannot hide his Republican and conservative leanings and you need to hear only one interview to ascertain his perspective. The same is true of most “analysts.” The on-air broadcasters and political thinkers in New York and Washington spend a great deal of their time sitting around breathing each other’s fumes and wait for absurd notions to become their conventional wisdom.

In Texas, where we have watched our governor disastrously privatize Medicaid and force 147,000 children off of health care rolls, bring minimum wage jobs to the state and proclaim an economic boom, operate a Youth Commission where children were raped and given extended sentences when they complained, we find George Will writing a column that describes Perry’s “exceptionalism,” which is probably accurate if the reader considers that the Texas governor pushed through a law forcing women to have a sonogram before they get an abortion. Will appears to have flown to San Antonio for a lunch with Governor Dick and got enough of a crush that he offered a rhetorical flourish over Perry’s “French cuffs and cowboy boots.” Will was obviously encouraged he has acolytes West of the Potomac.

Of course, it’s no secret that Will is a conservative determined to keep us little people out in the prairie informed of how we should think. What exactly is the reach of progressive media and its thinkers, though? The conservatives who own the national media, whether that is Murdoch or Disney, provide a forum for people like Halperin and other pseudo-analysts to complain about publications like the New York Times. But it was the bitchy “gray lady” that enabled the fatally flawed reporting of Judy Miller, which was central to fomenting a political environment in Washington that led to our ongoing disaster in Iraq. The paper of record was not a liberal enemy when conservatives figured out how to manipulate its editorial content.

FOX News, at least, is a known commodity for viewers. Chris Wallace’s dickiness is as obvious as a lapel pin. There is no attempt to pass off FOX people (let’s not pretend and call them journalists) as analysts, the guise under which Mark Halperin stalks the green rooms of Washington and New York. The Hannity’s and the O’Reilly’s pull fatuous nonsense out of the ether and then push it on the streets like it is fact as they denounce Keith Olbermann as a tool of the liberal elite media. Disagree with Olbermann all you want but his perspective is backed up by intellectual rigor, evidence, and reporting, which, in the eyes of conservatives, makes Olbermann “kind of a dick,” too.  Facts remain “stubborn things.”

Let’s retire this notion of objectivity in the media. It is a kind of mythology taught in journalism schools and checked at the door as soon as a reporter walks into the newsroom of a large media operation. No one is objective, not even reporters, maybe especially not reporters. We are all a product of our experiences. The goal is fairness, making certain that facts are properly assessed, perspectives weighed for credibility, and the report is informative based upon available information. And there aren’t always two sides to a story. Sometimes there is only one. The fool standing on the Golden Gate Bridge who says he can fly before he jumps does not need to be refuted by a scientist explaining why human flight is not possible. Sometimes there is just the truth.

But what do I know? I’ve been told a few times that I’m “kind of a dick,” too..




7 Comments for this entry

  • Candace Windel

    I could not agree with anything you said more. I particularly think it is important to realize the black/white, right/wrong easy dualistic analyst Americans seem to love is a MYTH. Sometime there is only one side to a story. And then sometimes there are 300 sides to a story. As much as (good) journalists try to break things down into digestible chunks, reality is messy. And complex.

  • Candace Windel

    That was suppose to be ‘analysis’ not ‘analyst’. Sorry.

  • GFW

    I believe the preferred term is “dickishness”.

    Nice John Adams quote. I like the more recent (Stephen Colbert) “Reality has a well known liberal bias”, but the Adams has a classic subtlety.


    Dear Jim, this is crushingly salient. Here in Australia too.
    You are blessed to have a heart as fine as your pen and brain.
    And you are always unafraid to speak the truth about your/mine own tribe. And equally, to lend support and encouragement.
    Thanks for writing this. For us all. Ultimately, the people
    are the real mass media. And we are all messengers;all journalists, all witnesses to our lives and the lives of others by virtue of everyday observations, conversations and such things as reading and leaving comments on your essays and participating in public discourse where there are pathways of freedom of speech and thought, such as here.

    We should not be held to ransom by Big Media, even though sometimes,they have a boot on our throat.

    Keep doing what you do Cobber. People like you are changing our media landscape.

    Tess Lawrence
    Journalist Advocate

  • DWL

    I found it interesting, as well as enlightening, that you devoted the majority of your “The Dick Dialogues” commentary to discrediting, (i.e. trashing), Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, Chris Wallace, Hannity, O’Reilly, Texas Gov. Perry, George Will etc. etc. while gushing over Pres. Obama’s economic policies.

    Is the mainstream media liberal? That should be abundantly clear if one spends a bit of time watching MSNBC, with its so-called “journalists/analysts” such as Olbermann, Schultz, Maddow, O’Donnell, Mitchell, Matthews, Morning Joe, etc. etc.

    You make little effort to hide your liberal bias. As such, your self-annointed title of “Communications Strategist” is quite appropriate.


  • Mike Jasper

    I was a liberal journalist for a couple of newspapers. I think people would be surprised to learn that most reporters are apolitical and would rather cover sports, fires or Lady GaGa.

    Reporters who cover politics for any length of time will always always come to the same conclusion, regardless of how liberal or conservative they are: All politicians are lying sacks of shit. You just gotta find the sack that works for you.

    PS — DWL, you think MSNBC is mainstream? Your clicker must be broken.

  • DWL

    You clearly bypassed the principal focus of my response which explicitly addressed Moore’s commentary – – in order to take issue with my observation regarding MSNBC.

    Yes, my clicker *was* broken at that particular moment. I inadvertently typed “mainstream” instead of “lamestream.”

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