Archive for the ‘Media Criticism’ Category

This email alert went out hours ago to fans of Ann Coulter. Note in the fine print, the publication refers to itself as a “conservative magazine” — with the scare quotes included. The punctuation is duly noted, and totally deserved. As opposed to the debates and exchange over political philosophy and government that were given a forum another conservative magazine (no scare quotes required), William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review, these pretenders are doing discredit to a long line of political thought — not just embarrassing sensible conservatives, but damaging the political process as a whole.

Shut down the government, cause financial political chaos, throw your party into civil war…and then write books about it, to your own financial reward.





Ann Coulter Wants to Disband the GOP!?

The Government Shutdown highlighted the rifts in our party. Now the secret is out and the whispers are starting – could the conservatives be at war with the GOP? Ann Coulter thinks so! In her latest book, Coulter promises there is nothing in the book liberals could disagree upon. Instead, she focuses on the war within the Republican party.

Tea Partiers are causing a lot of commotion and leading pundits including Rush Limbaugh have called the GOP “irrelevant.” Sarah Palin has threatened to leave the party. Now, Coulter is exposing the rifts surfacing in the party, detailing why conservatives can’t trust their own. Ann Coulter, author of Never Trust a Liberal Over 3: Especially a Republicanappeared on Sean Hannity and if you haven’t seen it yet, believe us, it was EPIC!

If you want to stay up-to-date on the changes coming in the Republican party, we’d highly recommend you watch this video. Then, order Townhall Magazine and we’ll throw in Ann Coulter’s book FOR FREE while getting the book of the demolisher FREE in addition to a year of the best conservative magazine in print!


Great deal! Get “Never Trust a Liberal Over 3″ FREE with 1 year of Townhall Magazine!


Don’t miss out on this great deal! Order Townhall Magazine today! 

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Townhall Magazine is taking “conservative magazines” to new heights with its investigative reporting and stories, conservative humor, photography, culture, and commentary from your favorites.Keep up with Townhall Magazine to get the inside scoop on exclusive interviews and more!

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Whatever one’s views of Generals David Petraeus or John Allen, perhaps the most baffling aspect of this affair is how ignorant of, or susceptible to, these high ranking men are of modern communications technology. Petraeus thought he could hide his philandering emails using shared gmail drafts — avoiding direct computer-to-computer transmissions like traditional email and its digital point-to-point Internet Protocol trail.

This was the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, mind you. I had a freshman student in my college communications class tonight give a presentation on Google’s sharing technologies which, apparently, surpassed Gen. Petraeus’ understanding. Woops.

And then there’s Gen. Allen. Who knows what he was doing with Tampa “socialite” Jill Kelley or anyone else in this unfolding soap opera. But over the span of a couple of years, who has time to send 20,000-30,000 pages of emails to anyone? Let alone someone running a war? I have to remind my students to turn off their smartphones and handhelds at the start of class; it appears no one was in a position to tell the head of the war in Afghanistan to spend less time emailing his “friend”  while his soldiers’ lives were on the line. The stereotypes about technology use and age just suffered a reality check with this evidence of Allen’s apparent email obsession and Petraeus’ outright ignorance.


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In the aftermath of the trouncing last Tuesday, some in the media and on the Right are finally beginning to examine the consequences of the conservative echo chamber. I’ve had friends who have been part of the conservative movement for decades complaining to me about this for years, and the chickens are — yes — finally coming home to roost. How far we’ve come from the days when an editor named William F. Buckley Jr. used media, like National Review and Firing Line (a program broadcast on PBS) to provide a forum for informed debate and exchange of ideas.

Insightful analysis here from POLITICO’s Jonathan Martin, and a personal portrait of one loyal GOPer’s personal bubble-bursting experience in the Post. And for reference, Bill Maher has been talking about this (with a literal bubble as a prop) for years.

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The debate tonight was a needed refresher after the dull performance last week. I’ve argued for years that the administration’s decision to muzzle the Veep was not in its best interest.

Biden was not just verbally aggressive on substance, but also effective in his nonverbals — in stark contrast to the President, who was seen as cold, disinterested, and not engaging. I might criticize Biden for his grins, which suggested a fatherly “oh come on now, young man,” but the spin from the Dems indicates they feel it was an effective way of telegraphing that the other fellow was lying, that his statements were, literally, laughable. Or for his scowls, which similarly expressed a fatherly disdain.

We also came close to a Lloyd Bentsen/Dan Quayle moment with the Veep calling out Ryan on his reference to John F. Kennedy. Biden didn’t know Jack Kennedy, but “Now you’re Jack Kennedy.”

Maybe the laughs were too much; decide for yourself.

Among my favorite moments was Joltin’ Joe confronting Ryan over his hypocrisy in requesting stimulus funds for his district while he voted against the underlying legislation. He was hardly the only GOPer to do this; happy to posture against spending, but then glad to take it.

Hopefully the next Presidential debates will be as lively. Veep debates rarely matter; the Quayle debate did — the Palin debate not as much, though the choice itself was of course controversial and “game changing.” Going back over history, it’s always interesting to note that even political junkies are hard pressed to name many Veeps, even, for example, any of Franklin Roosevelt’s over four terms, other than Harry Truman — and that despite FDR’s age and health. This VP race appears to be of a different category.

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My piece on the passing of Dick Clark ran today in POLITICO. Unfortunately they didn’t include one of my hyperlinks, which directed to Al Sharpton’s tribute from a few days ago. It’s worth watching and was part of what led me to write what I did today.

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On Hardball tonight we saw an interesting development in the anti-Romney crusade. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews seemed, awkwardly, to be defending Newt Gingrich’s attacks on the putative frontrunner, Mitt Romney. For all of Newt’s shortcomings, which I’ve written about earlier and heard plenty about on the media chatterbox, Newt seems to be garnering sympathy from some opinion leaders.

Blasted by what Matthews termed nonstop “swift-boat” attacks in Iowa, his fellow (converted) Catholic now might be garnering sympathy.

But…Gingrich’s claim to be a “true conservative” rings empty, no more or less than the other shapeshifters he shares the field with. Gingrich’s heir-to-Reagan claims have some serious vetting in order. His ’94 “revolution” decidedly did not pan out. Having someone like Matthews now acting as defender is, to be sure, an interesting twist.

But what we have now in the GOP field is a sequence of Harold Hill traveling salesmen who are promising boys’ bands when there’s nothing really there to deliver; we are facing a cast of pretenders to the throne of real conservatism. Ya’ Got Trouble.

Still, Newt — with his Saturday Night Live references and romancing (apparently) of folks like Matthews: Who knows. The bottom line is that the conservative movement’s train has gone off the rails. Trouble with a capital T.

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Bob Dole Memorial Third Person Award: Rick Perry, for referring to himself as Rick Perry. Cue Conan O’Brien.

Lt. Uhura Star Trek Award: Newt Gingrich, for defending the space program.

Block that Metaphor Award: Tie. Rick Santorum, for comparing our Federalist system a-la Jack Kemp to “laboratories of democracy” to “petri dishes” — and Michele Bachmann for comparing K Street and lobbying to Rodeo Drive.

Lloyd Bentsen Memorial “You’re no Jack Kennedy” Award: Mitt Romney, for noting that Newt Gingrich “Is a friend of mine.” Irony, anyone?

There Was A Third Man Award: Jon Huntsman. Where were you? Donald Trump is not to blame.

Fred Dalton Thompson Award: Fred Dalton Thompson. For hawking reverse mortgages during the ad break. Better career path?

Dean Martin Taking It Easy Award: Rick Perry. Looks smooth, regardless of the rhetorical flubs. (How many choices did we have after the drone was retrieved? 2? Or 3? Who cares? Hit it, Jimmie!)

Ogden Nash Oddly/Comically Ironic Wordsmith Award: Michele Bachmann, for “Newt Romney.”

Mark Twain Stranger Than Fiction/Bad Lip Reading Award: Ron Paul. Sorry, friend


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In the wake of media reaction to the New Hampshire Union Leader’s endorsement of Newt Gingrich and his rather unexpected rise in the polls, I was reminded of another GOP candidate who received the nod some years back. Let’s get in the conservative way-back machine — back before the paper’s eventually prescient endorsements of John McCain and Ronald Reagan; before the less than prescient endorsements of Pete DuPont, Pat Buchanan, and Steve Forbes.

In 1972, a Republican from Ohio named John Ashbrook launched a longshot campaign against Richard Nixon — from the right. Ashbrook, who is a legend in conservative circles for his role in building the modern movement, was part of the team that convinced Barry Goldwater to run for president and nurture institutions like the American Conservative Union. He became one of Nixon’s fiercest critics, criticizing his (surprisingly progressive) policies on everything from China to OSHA, EPA, civil rights, and social welfare. The Union Leader endorsed him.

When I discovered Ashbrook as a young student at the University of Virginia I began in earnest a deeper, lifelong exploration of how Nixon, the ultimate non-ideologue, fueled the fires on the hard right and created — sometimes in spite of himself — the current polarized political universe.

I’m reminded of this now as we watch Mitt Romney being pilloried for his own ideological flexibilities. As with Ashbrook, the influential New Hampshire paper has now decided to back another conservative gadfly. A primary difference, though, is that Ashbrook never thought he was going to win; a veteran of movement politics who was comfortable in his own skin, he lacked Gingrich’s outsized image and expectations. His run against Nixon was symbolic, and he understood that. But symbols matter, and for movement conservatives, the overthrow of Nixon’s non-ideological “Modern Republicanism” was eventually achieved. Ashbrook wasn’t trying to be president. He was part of something larger — something that started with Goldwater and led to Reagan. Gingrich is a different animal altogether: His ’94 revolution crashed and burned, and his emergence among the 2012 candidates is mostly a symptom of the chaos on the right today.

There have been pundits a-plenty, including Chris Matthews,  who are invoking Nixon — not the ’72 campaign, but ’68 — when Mitt’s dad was challenging Nixon. Matthews has drawn comparisons between Gingrich’s badmouthing of Occupy Wall Street and the Nixon/Agnew attack on anti-war hippies. Others are drawing Nixon parallels simply because I suggest that ’68 is the wrong year for reference: It’s ’72. Romney is the non-ideologue this time, all too “flexible” in his policy record.

Gingrich is not Nixon in the current scenario; Romney is. But Newt Gingrich is also no John Ashbrook — a person who movement conservatives still remember as someone who put the bigger project first and wasn’t in the game for himself. Anyone who has cut their teeth in the conservative movement will tell you this, Union Leader notwithstanding.

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In the emerging tradition of our GOP debate awards, we announce these superlatives in the wake of the CNN/foreign policy debate this evening at DAR’s Constitution Hall in Washington D.C.

Tom Clancy Sum of All Fears Award: Tie, Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann, for both mentioning the danger of a single nuclear weapon being smuggled into the country and blowing up a major city. James Cromwell is ready for your support, though I hear he supports Dennis Kucinich.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer They Will Eventually Come for You Award: Ron Paul, in response to Newt Gingrich “You can still provide security without sacrificing our Bill of Rights.”

Yellow Piece Trivial Pursuit Historical Reference Award: Close race, with Rick Perry taking the ultimate prize. Santorum invoked Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of Habeas corpus (albeit obliquely) whereas Perry more directly cited the Monroe Doctrine and our still standing national policy of protecting the hemisphere.

George W. Bush Nicknaming Award: Herman Cain, for “Blitz.” Who turned it neatly by responding to the candidate as “Cain.”

Misplaced Jack Kemp Enterprise Zone Award: Rick Perry, for arguing that turning the Middle East into a free trade zone would eliminate the threat of nuclear war in the region. Not sure how it works, but some might say that applies to the Kemp idea as well.

I’ll See Your Pinochet Chilean Model And Raise You/Friendly Dictator Award: Mitt Romney, for praising the regime of Indonesian dictator Suharto during the 1960s.

Do Not Trust The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Award:  Jon Huntsman, for noting that “listening to the Generals” did not pan out so well for Lyndon Johnson in 1967.

Nixon-Kennedy Actual Debate Award: CNN and Wolf Blitzer. At moments, we actually had direct, substantive debate over policy issues between people who were competent to discuss them. Blitz was willing to moderate in a way that allowed the candidates, even the “second tier” of the lot, to engage — e.g. the prolonged exchange between Romney and Huntsman over Mideast policy. Notably followed by Gingrich’s pontificating.

Ogden Nash Alliteration Award: Michele Bachmann, for “highly in hock” as a description of our fiscal state with China. Although she mixed the metaphor by suggesting the high hock was only a matter of Monopoly money.

Mr. Christian’s Pitcairn Islands/Lost Reference Award: Rick Santorum, for referencing the lack of American engagement in the crisis of government in Honduras. A point of personal privilege here: My parents were Peace Corps volunteers in Honduras, and watching the events unfold there left us all saddened. Santorum rightly pointed to this as a missed opportunity where American diplomatic pressure could have done much more.

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In the wake of Cain’s rhetorically disastrous response to allegations of sexual harassment from his time at the National Restaurant Association, his defenders are trying to get their sea legs. Or decide if they want to stay on the ship.

To my surprise I learned today on POLITICO that Cain’s defenders now include Northwestern University Law Prof. Stephen Calabresi, a co-founder of the Federalist Society. In his defense of Cain, Calabresi illustrates in bright relief the blurring of the line between attacks on the much maligned Mainstream Liberal Media for having the nerve to cover this story (e.g. Ann Coulter’s “occupy POLITICO” effort), and more implicit and personal attacks on Cain’s female accusers.

In Calabresi’s case, we see the legal term “slander” to describe what’s happening to Cain. As opposed to “libel,” a vital legal distinction. Slander applies to spoken statements as opposed to printed, permanent ones — that’s libel. If it’s slander we’re talking about, the attack is on the women who are speaking to the media about what they say happened; this is opposed to attacking the media itself for publishing their statements. Calabresi and others on the right see an opportunity to have it both ways, though.

Shades of  Clarence Thomas: Was the “high tech lynching” the media’s fault, or was it Anita Hill’s.

Read my comment, first published in POLITICO on Nov. 1, 2011.

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