Monday, April 26, 2010

The media-ideological-industrial complex

Andrew Sullivan has offered a very insightful description of the contemporary GOP:
what we have seen this past year is the collapse of the RNC as it once was and the emergence of a highly lucrative media-ideological-industrial complex. This complex has no interest in traditional journalistic vetting, skepticism, scrutiny of those in power, or asking the tough questions. It has no interest in governing a country. It has an interest in promoting personalities and ideologies and false images of a past America that both flatter and engage its audience. For most in this business, this is about money. Roger Ailes, who runs a news business, has been frank about what his fundamental criterion is for broadcasting: ratings not truth. Obviously all media has an eye on the bottom line - but in most news organizations, there is also an ethical editorial concern to get things right. I see no such inclination in Fox News or the hugely popular talkshow demagogues (Limbaugh, Levin, Beck et al.), which now effectively control the GOP. And when huge media organizations have no interest in any facts that cannot be deployed for a specific message, they are a political party in themselves.
Andrew makes this observation in the larger context of responding to Josh Green's conclusion that Palin is in this for the money and not to run for President. Andrew remains convinced that Palin will the 2012 Republican nominee for POTUS. For what's it's worth, I think Josh is right and Andrew is wrong: If Palin were interested in governance, she would still be Governor of Alaska. Nevertheless, Andrew's description of the modern Republican party seems spot on to me. I would only disagree with Andrew in that I believe his description of the GOP has been applicable since at least the end of the Cold War.

By my estimation, the anti-intellectual/anti-governance wing of the GOP began to take control in earnest during the Reagan years, with George H. W. Bush being the last Republican administration that actually cared about governance. And not surprisingly, current GOP thinking considers Bush I to have been a dismal failure. With Gingrich taking charge of the Republican Party in 1994, any serious interest in governance was thrown to the side in pursuant of the kooky right-wing ideological goal of cutting taxes until the Federal Government was bankrupted, aka starving the beast. And this remains the current thinking in the GOP -- if the Federal Government is literally bankrupted than it can't fund social security and medicare. That a bankrupt US Government would cause a global economic collapse of Biblical proportions is frankly, too big an intellectual concept for these Republicans grasp. What Andrew describes is nothing more than the natural progression that began in the anti-intellectualism of the Reagan years.

No comments: