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Fred Barnes: Conventional Wisdom (The mainstream media still has the power)
The Weekly Standard ^ | December 1, 2005 | Fred Barnes

Posted on 12/01/2005 4:10:48 PM PST by RWR8189

CONSERVATIVES are justifiably proud of the alternative they've created to the mainstream media--the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, big regional papers, TV networks, and the national news magazine. Last year, conservative talk radio, websites, and bloggers forced the Swift Boats vets story onto the national media agenda and instantly destroyed 60 Minutes's case against President Bush and his Texas Air National Guard service. But conservatives shouldn't get triumphal. The mainstream media still rules.

We see this every day. Consider the case of Democratic Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania, who recently called for an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. The mainstream media treated this as a shot out of the blue by a defense hawk who suddenly concluded that the war was unwinnable. Conservatives knew better--namely that Murtha had been criticizing the war for many months and that his call for withdrawal was utterly irresponsible.

The mainstream media view prevailed. Murtha was treated as a pro-war hawk who had reluctantly--and more in sorrow than in anger--turned against the intervention in Iraq. Newsweek's Conventional Wisdom Watch gave him an "up" arrow, and indeed that reflected media opinion about Murtha and opposition to the war in Iraq. The dissent by the conservative media barely registered.

Despite all the good done by the alternative media, the mainstream media is still able to impose its interpretation on news events. It has no qualms about creating out of whole cloth national figures it likes. And the mainstream media continues to hold to a double standard, one for Democrats and liberals, another for Bush and Republicans.

I don't mean to diminish the alternative media. It's simply that the mainstream media is far bigger and much, much stronger--and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Talk radio, websites and bloggers don't report. They can only react to the reporting of the mainstream media.

 

FOX NEWS has dozens of reporters. It's not really part of the alternative media. True, it's far more welcoming to conservative commentators (I'm one of them) than any of the mainstream broadcast outlets and this gives Fox a conservative tilt. But Fox also has many liberal commentators. And its reporters, in my view, are fairer and less partisan than most mainstream media reporters.

 

A GOOD EXAMPLE of the mainstream media's power is Cindy Sheehan, the left-wing mother of a soldier slain in Iraq. She showed up in Texas last summer demanding to see the president, who was on vacation at his ranch. The mainstream media elevated her stardom, rarely mentioning that she had already met once with Bush and had allied herself with far-left activists.

Cindy Sheehan was created out of whole cloth. Having talked to Bush in person since her son was killed, she had no special claim on his time. Nor, as an antiwar protester, was she representative of parents of slain GI's--quite the contrary. But the media embraced her. Sadly for Sheehan, her protest near Bush's ranch over Thanksgiving was a flop. Why? Because the mainstream media had moved on, presumably without informing her.

The conservative alternative media has vigorously challenged the mainstream media's take on many stories, but has rarely changed it. Consider the CIA leak case. The conventional story line is that the Bush White House sought to punish a brave whistleblower, Joseph Wilson, for publicly refuting a Bush claim about Iraq by outing his wife, a CIA agent. In truth, the Bush White House merely sought to knock down Wilson's story because it was false.

The mainstream media line has survived. We see it repeated endlessly. The alternative media has cataloged Wilson's numerous lies--with little effect. When Wilson appeared recently on 60 Minutes, he was treated a man who spoke truth to power and suffered for it.

On Iraq, the mainstream media have been relentlessly negative. And this has had a clear impact on the public, whose support for the president's Iraq policy has nosedived. The alternative media has played up the many examples of good news and optimistic assessments of Iraq. It's not difficult to see who has been the dominant force on that issue.

Last year, the mainstream media went into a frenzy after the president was accused of being AWOL during his National Guard duty. But the same media was uninterested when scored of Swift Boat veterans who served with John Kerry challenged his heroic account of his Vietnam service. And when it finally took up the Kerry story, the mainstream media's focus was primarily on discrediting the vets, not Kerry.

This year, the same double standard applies to the Democrats' attempt to market the story that the president lied about Iraq intelligence before war. With rare exceptions, Democrats are not required to justify their charge with evidence. Bush, though, is being called on to defend his innocence.

On top of all that, the mainstream media likes to throw its weight around, often at Bush's expense. When he attended the Summit of the Americas in Argentina earlier this month, Bush met with American reporters to answer a few questions. The first four (of five) were about whether he would fire senior aide Karl Rove, apologize to the American people, combat the notion he's untrustworthy, or try to give his presidency a fresh start. Only one dealt with his policy toward Latin America.

 

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.


TOPICS: Editorial; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: barnes; foxnews; fredbarnes; mainstreammedia; media; msm; pravda

1 posted on 12/01/2005 4:10:49 PM PST by RWR8189
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To: RWR8189
Barnes is being too defeatist about this. The dinosaur media are doing what dinosaurs do: becoming extinct. They have done nothing but lose ground. Meanwhile, the "alternative" news sources are rising to become the preferred standard. I saw figures today that internet advertising is becoming an industry staple -- something that can't be ignored by the savvy marketer any longer.

When internet news sources start siphoning off media $$$$ as well as readers, the bell will toll. And that's just around the corner.

2 posted on 12/01/2005 4:14:34 PM PST by IronJack
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To: RWR8189

already posted.


3 posted on 12/01/2005 4:15:09 PM PST by tioga
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To: RWR8189

Another example of such MSM bias is that they are totally ignoring Lieberman's recent visit to Iraq and his conclusions that we need to stay until the job is done right. If his conclusions were the opposite, we'd have heard hours about it.

It drives me crazy.


4 posted on 12/01/2005 4:16:48 PM PST by Republicanprofessor
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To: RWR8189
the mainstream media is far bigger and much, much stronger--and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

This is why our fight is so important. Every letter we write, every lie we find helps us to whittle away at the monster known as the MSM.

We can win but it's a long fight facing us.

5 posted on 12/01/2005 4:20:41 PM PST by ncountylee (Dead terrorists smell like victory)
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To: RWR8189
Its naive to think that the MSM have lost their power to alter public opinion. In case any one has not noticed, the MSM PR offensive has turned public opinion against the war.
6 posted on 12/01/2005 4:22:46 PM PST by dinok
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To: RWR8189
Barnes is right that the media made Seehan a big deal out of whole cloth, but if there is no substance to the person as in the case of Sheehan the pump does not last. Even they can't make chicken salad out of her.

Barnes is right for that group of people who get their information primarily from MSM. That is an older market segment that is diminishing. The trend still favors the new media.

7 posted on 12/01/2005 4:24:02 PM PST by Anti-Bubba182
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To: RWR8189

Good post. I think we also need to remember that the MSM is not only swaying current public opinion, but they're also (literally) writing history.


8 posted on 12/01/2005 4:50:11 PM PST by PioneerDrive (Don't fence me in.)
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To: ncountylee
We can win but it's a long fight facing us.

This is exactly correct!

The conservative movement took 20 years to really take hold. We spent a lot of time in the wilderness before even coming close to being a majority party.

Let's see what the world looks like in 25 years.

9 posted on 12/01/2005 5:00:29 PM PST by GWB00 (Barbara Streisand barely made it out of high school.)
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To: PioneerDrive
But they're hemorrhaging left and right... The MSM is in swift decline and its monopoly status is gone. It can only react towards the events - and at that in a negative manner. What it can no longer do is set the national agenda. So things are looking up.

(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie.Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")

10 posted on 12/01/2005 5:00:48 PM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: IronJack
Barnes is being too defeatist about this.

The problem, as I see it, is that the good media (Fox News, CNS news, even FRee Republic) continues to parrot the bogus exact same news stories which the mainstream media (CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, etc) continues to push.

Now, Fox News, for example, will run stories, for example, for weeks on end asking "what do you think about Cindy Sheehan?" or "why do you think the Iraq war is going so badly?" or "Why did President Bush screw up New Orleans, or something along those lines.

When in reality, the "conservative" news outlets should simply ignore and NOT EVEN report blatantly false or bogus stories.

I'll never forget how Fox News simply jumped in and parroted the story about the 400 tons of weaponry the US Military has supposedly lost (five days before the 2004 election, no less)

And Fox News and other so called good outlets pounded President Bush and FEMA over the so-called bad response to Hurricane Katrina.

As for me, if I was editor, I would have been doing stories on how ABC was distorting the news, and in reality FEMa and the US Coast Guard were in reality on the scene with help less than 10 hours after the Katrina winds died down.

Get the drift.

As long as the conservatives simply repeat, repeat, repeat ad naseum the bogus mainstream stories, then the American media will continue to be way way way left of center.

11 posted on 12/01/2005 5:09:52 PM PST by Edit35
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To: goldstategop

We all can do our part in their downfall. Stop buying these papers and certainly never use them to advertise.


12 posted on 12/01/2005 5:10:28 PM PST by magua
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To: IronJack

Still, I wouldn't want to mess with a Dinosaur, the mammals are not fully evolved yet.


13 posted on 12/01/2005 5:57:42 PM PST by MassachusettsGOP (Massachusetts Republican....A rare breed indeed)
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To: RWR8189

Sure Freddie. The Failed Media, of which Freddie is a part, is SO powerful they managed to get a 403-3 US House of Representatives vote to REJECT the Cut and Run dogma they all have been pushing since 2003. Kid yourself all you want Freddie, the VOTES tell us a different story.


14 posted on 12/01/2005 6:15:39 PM PST by MNJohnnie (Senator John Kerry is a slobbering buffoon on Iraq Rush Limbaugh 11-30-05)
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To: dinok
MSM PR offensive has turned public opinion against the war.

According to the polls they create, administer and report. 403-3 US House Vote is a FACT unlike the seriously skewed Faild Media's "polling" data. Wonder if they reversed the margin of Demos and Repbs polled what that would do to the data? Kind of hard for the War to gain any PR ground when they makes sure to poll more Dems, More "Independents" and a LOT fewer Republicans. Wonder if they did a 50-50 poll instead what the results would be????

15 posted on 12/01/2005 6:19:14 PM PST by MNJohnnie (Senator John Kerry is a slobbering buffoon on Iraq Rush Limbaugh 11-30-05)
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To: magua
"We all can do our part in their downfall. Stop buying these papers and certainly never use them to advertise."

Done. A few months ago, after The Seattle Times had Cindy Sheehan on the front page, above-the-fold, three days in a row, and used her as the focus of an anti-war editorial, I cancelled my subscription.
16 posted on 12/01/2005 6:24:21 PM PST by Steve_Seattle
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To: IronJack

Well, just damn. You took the words right out of my mouth about being defeatist.

He does make a point, however, about the new media being reactive- rather than proactive.

As far as defeatism is concerned, he stated, "Sadly for Sheehan, her protest near Bush's ranch over Thanksgiving was a flop. Why? Because the mainstream media had moved on, presumably without informing her."

That, IMHO, is BS. Her Thanksgiving protest was a flop because too many have risen up against her and her kind (so many FReepers!!) and while I may not have been able to be there...I'm here, I'm one tenacious bitch, and I'm not going anywhere. I might end up the last 'man' standing, but if I am, she'll have to face me. And even I wouldn't want to! LOL!


17 posted on 12/01/2005 6:48:27 PM PST by freema (Proud Marine Mom)
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To: RWR8189

"The mainstream media still rules."


I still don't agree!!


18 posted on 12/01/2005 7:46:04 PM PST by CyberAnt ( I believe Congressman Curt Weldon re Able Danger)
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To: StarFan; Dutchy; Timesink; VPMWife78; Gracey; Alamo-Girl; RottiBiz; FoxGirl; Mr. Bob; xflisa; ...
FoxFan ping!

Please FReepmail me if you want on or off my FoxFan list. *Warning: This can be a high-volume ping list at times.

19 posted on 12/01/2005 7:53:33 PM PST by nutmeg ("We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good." - Hillary Clinton 6/28/04)
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To: RWR8189
Fred's right.

Talk radio, websites and bloggers don't report. They can only react to the reporting of the mainstream media.

See FR.

20 posted on 12/01/2005 7:55:46 PM PST by sam_paine (X .................................)
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To: IronJack

I am encouraged when I see the New York Times laying off 500 people. The hey days of the dinosaur media are gone. Night is coming fast for them.


21 posted on 12/01/2005 7:57:49 PM PST by Uncle Vlad
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To: MNJohnnie
The Failed Media...is SO powerful they managed to get a 403-3 vote

No.....they managed to hide it.

22 posted on 12/01/2005 7:58:36 PM PST by sam_paine (X .................................)
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To: RWR8189
Chicago Tribune To Cut 28 Editorial Positions
23 posted on 12/01/2005 8:01:53 PM PST by Tribune7
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To: RWR8189
"The mainstream media view prevailed. Murtha was treated as a pro-war hawk who had reluctantly--and more in sorrow than in anger--turned against the intervention in Iraq.

No Fred, it didn't. This column of Fred's points out the reason that I will never take the Weakly Standard. Reason #1 is Bill Kristol.

But #2 is Fred Barnes trying to hang on to separate himself from the "mainstream media" while being a very apparent part of it.

24 posted on 12/01/2005 8:07:13 PM PST by A Citizen Reporter
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To: RWR8189
Talk radio, websites and bloggers don't report. They can only react to the reporting of the mainstream media.

Which means that the MSM may still have the power to deceive, but (as I posted on another thread) the period of effectiveness for their deceptions is shorter and shorter because of the alternative media. Their credibilty suffers with each exposure of their bias, and revelation of their tactics. Their periods of deception are only setting them up for a more devastating blow from the power of the truth when it finally comes out.

25 posted on 12/01/2005 8:25:58 PM PST by LucyJo ("I have overcome the world." "Abide in Me." (John 16:33; 15:4)
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To: RWR8189
I think it bears repeating that the MSM still has a virtual monopoly on the news and though they are losing circulation and viewership it is mostly attributable to conservatives discovering slowly but surely that there is alternative media out there. Unfortunately centrists and others are still in their grasp.

What conservatives need to do, rather than creating networks that pander to the converted is to take over the MSM and insure that way of getting impartial news. As things stand now, only conservatives watch alternative news and read alternative papers and magazines. Conservatives still account for aproximately 25% of the population, the rest are still being branwashed by the MSM.



26 posted on 12/01/2005 8:32:19 PM PST by Cacique (quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat ( Islamia Delenda Est ))
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To: Republicanprofessor

There really is a Republican professor! Amazing. 8)

Read your bio, you are one smart cookie. [Perhaps why you are a Republican.]

You will be happy to know that I survived a four year liberal arts education [majoring in sociology, no less] at a neighboring school and managed to find my way to the conservative side, after a few years detour on the dark side. 8)


27 posted on 12/01/2005 8:43:04 PM PST by FOXFANVOX (Tony Snow Fan!)
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To: RWR8189
I must say that I thought the MSM's power was diminished much more than has proved to be the case. The MSM's support of the Democrat opposition to the war, the hyping of the Valerie Plame affair, their love affair with Cindy Sheehan and Murtha and the outright LIES told about Katrina's aftermath, have served to bring our President to the nadir of his 5 years in office.

This was done in LESS than ONE YEAR after George Bush was re-elected by some 3 million votes. I for one beleived the IRAQ opposition and the lack of finding WMD was a CLOSED CASE after the election.........it seems as though I vastly underestimated the MSM's continuing influence on the American public.

28 posted on 12/01/2005 8:55:55 PM PST by PISANO (We will not tire......We will not falter.......We will NOT FAIL!!! .........GW Bush [Oct 2001])
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To: dinok
Its naive to think that the MSM have lost their power to alter public opinion. In case any one has not noticed, the MSM PR offensive has turned public opinion against the war.

To a degree, yes. But not nearly to the degree the polls would suggest.

If the Democrats really believed in the MSM's polls, wouldn't more than three Democrats have voted in favor of quitting Iraq?

But they knew better than to trust the skewed results.

29 posted on 12/01/2005 9:14:26 PM PST by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: IGNORANCE ON PARADE)
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To: IronJack

bump to the top


30 posted on 12/01/2005 10:24:07 PM PST by timestax
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To: tioga

I know, but the way you set up your thread, a good article wasn't going to get the exposure it was due.


31 posted on 12/01/2005 10:47:17 PM PST by RWR8189 (George Allen 2008)
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To: everyone

Freddo is right. As usual, his analysis isn't very deep.
But this time at least, he's right. Face the music, people: The right-blogosphere, talk radio, etc., are mostly just conservatives talking to themselves. The people who matter most in this country are the "independents," "moderates," etc., and their minds are stocked with MSM crap. That isn't about to change.


32 posted on 12/01/2005 11:57:10 PM PST by California Patriot
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To: RWR8189

Barnes is flat on here. The MSM is still dominant, but they are no longer a monopoly. It has been enough of a shift that the outcome of elections are in our favor. They do still shift opinion and drive the news.

As newspapers cut jobs and lose ad revenues, this will continue to change.

The best thing in the world would be to have a synication network that is not marxist in nature like AP and Reuters.


33 posted on 12/02/2005 12:04:21 AM PST by ilgipper
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To: sam_paine
Oh I agree. Freepers got to learn to spend way more time being our own Journalists (See the dozen or so posts by Sand Rat daily about Iraq as an example of how to do it or the Milbloggers) and a lot less time serving as the Dinosaur Media's echo chamber. What we really need to do is develop a Conservative Alternative to the AP. The AP propaganda gets absorbed by everyone as either back ground material or filler. Alot of the moving leftward at Fox is a result of their reliance, like the rest of the Media, on the Associated Press wire. Looking at who is who at AP is to see a virtually a list of relatives of those at the DNC. The very roots of the "News" media are poisoned with Leftist propaganda. They control the terms of debate now and we need a counter weight to them
34 posted on 12/02/2005 1:06:12 AM PST by MNJohnnie (Senator John Kerry is a slobbering buffoon on Iraq Rush Limbaugh 11-30-05)
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To: FOXFANVOX
There really is a Republican professor! Amazing.

Yes, and even in Massachusetts, where the fight is pretty lop-sided.

I have to admit I've made some political mistakes in the past because of my arts connections, but I saw the light some time ago.

Are you working in a sociology field, waging the same kind of battles that I do?

35 posted on 12/02/2005 3:21:20 AM PST by Republicanprofessor
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To: RWR8189
Last year, the mainstream media went into a frenzy after the president was accused of being AWOL during his National Guard duty. But the same media was uninterested when scored of Swift Boat veterans who served with John Kerry challenged his heroic account of his Vietnam service. And when it finally took up the Kerry story, the mainstream media's focus was primarily on discrediting the vets, not Kerry.

The comparison I like to make there is The Bush National Guard story vs. the Kerry/VVAW meeting where they voted on whether to assassinate seven U.S. senators who disagreed with them about the war.

Does anyone anywhere believe that if GWB had something like that in his background he would ever have been allowed to become governor of Texas much less POTUS? Yet the average American has never heard the story about Kerry's involvement in that Kansas City meeting, or that such a meeting even occurred.

36 posted on 12/02/2005 3:37:11 AM PST by alnick
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To: Anti-Bubba182
Barnes is right for that group of people who get their information primarily from MSM. That is an older market segment that is diminishing. The trend still favors the new media.

He's also correct that the Old Media makes and reports news, breaks stories, factual or not, whereas the New Media reacts to those stories.

We need a conservative news outlet with a team of investigative journalists who will dig up the stories and report them.

37 posted on 12/02/2005 3:39:57 AM PST by alnick
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To: California Patriot
That isn't about to change.

Not if we throw up our hands in defeat, it isn't.

We're making progress. It's slow and steady, but it's progress. These kinds of things don't change overnight. It's got to be incremental. So we take heart in the progress we've made and keep striving to incrementally take more ground in the media wars.

38 posted on 12/02/2005 4:31:58 AM PST by alnick
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To: RWR8189

RME


39 posted on 12/02/2005 4:46:05 AM PST by tioga
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To: MNJohnnie
The AP propaganda gets absorbed by everyone as either back ground material or filler.

True. I heard boortz say the other day that everyone needs to subscribe at least to their hometown paper. But that's ridiculous because except for micro-hometown 12pg papers, they are all just reprints of AP this and Reuters that. Garbage.

40 posted on 12/02/2005 7:21:02 AM PST by sam_paine (X .................................)
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To: sam_paine
You DO not need to subscribe to a local paper. Companies like the one I work for, the Worlds largest Grocery Wholesaler make it possible for you to print you own copy of their coupons on their website. Sport scores, want ads virtually any utilitarian need for a paper can be met via alternative Web based outlets. I just wish my company would quit wasting the fees on Newspaper ads. That would REALLY hurt several major hard left dailies in the Midwest
41 posted on 12/02/2005 7:35:34 AM PST by MNJohnnie (Senator John Kerry is a slobbering buffoon on Iraq Rush Limbaugh 11-30-05)
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To: alnick

Good point.

I hereby amend my comment: "That isn't about to change much, but we are making slow progress and must keep pushing."


42 posted on 12/02/2005 2:06:22 PM PST by California Patriot
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