Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Conservative media

I’ve recently been reading David Brock’s book The Republican Noise Machine which presents a thorough history of how the rightwing came to totally dominate the news media today, all while pretending to be struggling against an all-powerful (and non-existent) elite liberal power structure.
I guess that I am just used to the strange dichotomy of conservative domination of the media while they continue to harp about the “liberal media,” but when it gets spelled out in such detail as in Brock’s book it starts to make your head spin.

Here is a little test. Go to Google and type in Conservative columnists. The first item to pop up will be a link to Townhall.com which features a collection of no fewer than 60 conservative columnists in a single convenient location.
Now do the same thing with Liberal columnists and the first thing you see is a link to a site called BoycottLiberalism.com which presents a list of the Top 25 liberal columnists in America. They apparently had to struggle to come up with 25 names for their list since almost half of them are not columnists in the traditional sense at all.

1 Frank Rich - NY Times
2 Maureen Dowd - NY Times
3 Paul Krugman - NY Times
4 Seymour M. Hersh - The New Yorker
5 Nicholas Kristof - NY Times
6 Eleanor Clift - Newsweek
7 Helen Thomas
8 Bill Moyers - Wide Angle (PBS)
9 David Corn - The Nation
10 Jesse Jackson - Chicago Sun Times
11 Noam Chomsky - Khaleej Times
12 Michael Kinsley - Washington Post
13 Bill Press - MSNBC / Sirus Radio
14 David Broder - Washington Post
15 Julianne Malveaux - USA Today
16 Molly Ivans - Fort Worth Star-Telegram
17 Ronald Brownstein - LA Times
18 E.J. Dionne - Washington Post
19 Juan Williams - NPR
20 Ellen Goodman - Boston Globe
21 Joe Conason - New York Observe
22 Walter Cronkite - NPR
23 Susan Estrich - Creators Syndicate
24 Robert Sheer - (formally LA Times)
25 Arianna Huffington -

Seymour Hersh, for instance, is an investigative journalist and not a columnist and he is only published infrequently in the New Yorker, not weekly or even monthly. Likewise, NPR and PBS folks like Bill Moyers and Juan Williams don’t have regular print columns. Molly Ivins passed away recently. Robert Sheer got canned by the LA Times. Walter Cronkite stopped writing his column after an all-too brief run. I’m not sure that Jesse Jackson still writes a column and as for Noam Chomsky, I don’t know what the Khaleej Times is supposed to be, but he is certainly not published regularly in any forum that most Americans would be able to find.

The truth is as I said long ago, the voices of the left are continuing to grow fewer and weaker and conservative domination of the media continues to grow unabated. And we will continue to hear conservatives whine about the “Liberal media” until the day that theirs are the only voices that are ever heard.

Comic survey results

The Express-News finally ran a story the other day about the comics survey it conducted several months ago.
The good news is that Zits topped the list and Luann ranked in the top 10 along with Garfield and Baby Blues. Pickles also slipped into the top 10 wich was filled out with a bunch of old standards like Family Circus, Blondie, Beetle Bailey, Hi & Lois, and Hagar the Horrible.
Garfield was the top choice of the 18 and younger crowd while Zits won the votes of folks between 18 and 54. Family Circus won in the 55 and up category.
The losers, those that ranked in the bottom 10, included Bizarro, Cathy, Dilbert, Tumbleweeds, the Amazing Spider Man, Prince Valiant and all of the political comics including Doonesbury, Nacho Guarche, Mallard Fillmore and Prickly City.
This wasn’t entirely fair, however, since many of these comics have the distinct disadvantage of not being in the daily comics section. Dilbert, for example, was banished years ago to the wastelands of the E-N Business pages and most comics readers probably assume that Scott Adams must have retired along with Bill Watterson and Gary Larson. Tumbleweeds and Prince Valiant are both Sunday only comics that don’t appear in the daily section. Neither do Doonesbury, Nacho and Mallard, which are all found on the Op-Ed pages.
So the biggest losers would have to be the daily comic section strips that hit the bottom including Bizarro, Cathy, Amazing Spider Man and Prickly City.
I can’t explain why Bizarro would be ranked so low. I think it is a pretty good strip and probably comes closest to touching that magic spot once occupied by The Far Side (although it is still a good distance away, I will admit). Cathy was once one of my favorite strips back in the 1980s when it first came out. But sometime in the 1990s it started to become tiresome and repetitive and I lost interest. However, being tiresome and repetitive is pretty much status quo on the comics page these days (See Blondie, Beetle Bailey, Hi and Lois, Hagar the Horrible, etc.) so that doesn’t explain why it would end up in the bottom section. The Amazing Spider Man is just awful. It is obviously written by complete morons who come up with stupid plots and stupider dialogue. But it is also the strip that my three-year-old son insists that I read to him everytime he sees me with the paper, so maybe that is the target age range they are shooting for.
Finally, there is Prickly City and I have to say that its bottom ranking is very well deserved. It is horribly drawn and consistently offensive with the sole purpose of spreading rightwing propaganda. It is, however, slightly better than Mallard Fillmore.