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September 20, 2007

Who Benefits From Post-Election Coverage?

Matt makes a fair point on the varied coverage the press gives to Democratic and Republican electoral wins:

"I've heard conservatives complain about this too. When conservatives secure political power, it's all "holy shit: conservatives!" but when liberals secure political power, it's all "don't worry, they're centrists." There's truth to both perspectives here, but I think the right fundamentally has the better of this argument. It wouldn't have been helpful to liberals or to liberalism for Time to greet the 2006 elections with a photo of Nancy Pelosi flanked by Charlie Rangel, Henry Waxman, David Obey, and John Conyers under the headline "THE LIBERAL TAKEOVER."

That said, it does pound in some narratives that matter. To go back to my Heath Shuler article, it was the Right who sought to argue that he was a conservative. They did that because it was good for the press to report the election as a triumph for "conservatism," that reigning ideology that had been failed by perfidious Republicans. So rather than the collapse of years of unified conservative rule being seen as the failure of the ideology, which would in turn lead the press to paint future adherents as politically radioactive, it actually enhanced the superficial appeal of "pure conservatism."

September 20, 2007 | Permalink


Matt makes a fair point

No, he doesn't. As far as I can make out from the comments, half of us (inc., certainly, me) can't make out what he's claiming about the media coverage of the 1994 election, or what the Republicans could be bitching about.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Sep 20, 2007 12:43:38 PM

Why on Earth does the right have the better argument? You think they're pleased with being labeled as "conservative lunatics"? I'm thinking no. This is the core of their whole "liberal bias" argument, that liberals are "centrists" while they are "deeply conservative." Personally, I think almost every term has been overused to death, but I think we as Democrats should be careful what we wish for. Moderate isn't a dirty word, necessarily; and "broad appeal" when it wins us a majority seems like a good thing.

Posted by: weboy | Sep 20, 2007 1:09:10 PM

"No, he doesn't"
absolutely agreed
Per the points made in the comments over there
Krugman's point was that saying the dems won because centerism was false. Doesn't matter how people would react, Time shouldn't publishing that false assertions on there front page.

Also Time focused on GOP victory in the headline, not conservatism taking over. No such comparable treatment for Dems. And worse isn't remotely clear why conservatives should upset about the media depicts their ideology.

I'm gonna need a ton of reasons to convince me that Time reporting on liberalism successes, somehow fails liberalism.

Posted by: Christopher Colaninno | Sep 20, 2007 3:14:03 PM

Yeah, what SCMTim said, Matt's off his head on this one. Time's 2006 cover had absolutely nothing to do with the election that had just happened. The message wasn't "Democrats won and they're centrists", it was "Democrats tied. Centrists of both parties will run things." Just completely wrong.

But that's what happens, I guess, when you let Joe Klein write your post-election cover story.

Posted by: Royko | Sep 20, 2007 3:26:39 PM

Weboy: The Right is agreeing with you and Matt's saying their correct to want to be labeled centrists.

Posted by: Ezra | Sep 20, 2007 3:36:10 PM

Matt's saying their correct to want to be labeled centrists.

Except that they have been--and this has been a focus of left discussion for as long as I've been aware of the blogosphere--and MY's saying that the Right is still whining. From which I infer that he's saying something more.

The only thing I can think of is that Republicans as a whole were adopted as centrists--or, if you'd rather, "Real Americans"--and so it's not the "centrists" that have power in the party, but the party that defines the center.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Sep 20, 2007 4:09:39 PM

Except our "liberals" ARE centrists. We've drifted pretty radically far to the right over the last 27 years-- witness the Supreme Court. Our labeling just lags a little.

Posted by: Anthony Damiani | Sep 20, 2007 6:05:49 PM

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