Beware the Liberal Media!
In Sunday's LA Times Gabler points out that everyone expects right-wing pundits to do or say anything to demonize Democrats. All those GOP noise-makers such as Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, David Brooks, etc., etc. But the unkindest cuts of all come from unexpected sources: the so-called liberal journalists, especially "onetime Democratic operatives turned journalists". He mentions Chris Mathews, George Stephanopoulos, and Maureen Dowd.
It wasn't always this way .... But as conservatism gained strength during the Nixon administration, it perpetrated a powerful idea that remains an article of its faith and that has served as one of its most effective political weapons: the idea that the media are really a liberal cabal ... How could Nixon possibly get a fair shake when the pointy-headed journalists in New York, Washington and Los Angeles were against him?
Liberals being liberals, it only took this nudge to lead to some soul-searching. As Rick Perlstein describes it in his book "Nixonland," Joseph Kraft, an old, unregenerate liberal close to the Kennedys, was among the first to wonder aloud if Nixon wasn't right .... Maybe journalists had become too insular, snooty and condescending. These kinds of ruminations tended to push the left-wing media toward the center as their way of proving that they were honest, objective and not beholden to anyone ....
But if the fear of seeming to be overly partisan was generated by the right, there was another fear the left itself created: the fear that in an increasingly ironic and youth-oriented society, it would never do to be earnest.
In the mid-1970s ... Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein proved that reporters could be stars. Such writers as Tom Wolfe, Norman Mailer and Hunter Thompson won fame and riches by slathering their personalities all over their reportage. A general cultural trend toward celebrity bled into journalism. The rise of cable television generated a 24-hour news cycle and personalities to go with it ... most of all, the news media had to compete for the public's attention with other available entertainment. In that competition, the news media quickly saw the advantage of star journalists, and some journalists quickly saw the advantages of being stars rather than nameless fact-collectors.
And it is the liberal politicians who continue to pay the price for the liberal journalists' self-promotion cum self-preservation. Beating up on well-educated, well-spoken liberals is probably the surest means of proving one's Everyman credentials and protecting one's personal brand without also, by the way, losing one's Beltway bona fides.