Conservative bloggers outside of the Beltway have been hopping mad at Jennifer Rubin, ostensible conservative journalist (née blogger), for what they perceive as shameless bias against conservatives and conservatism.
Politico wrote a story about her obsessive anti-Rick Perry writing (60 columns!) and apparent coziness with the Romney team.
When Redstate blogger and CNN commentator Erick Erickson noted that he didn’t think Rubin was conservative and likened her political bent to being a member of Likud, the Israeli political party, Rubinfired back:
“You want a Washington Post journalist to comment on an anti-Semitic screed by some blogger?” Rubin asked. “My arms are not long enough to punch down that far.”
This response was giggle-worthy —for a couple of reasons. The smug self-importance while throwing the victim card while, um, punching down, reinforced criticisms rather than countering them.
Erickson went on to apologize for insensitivity, saying he intended the Likud comparison as political shorthand for Rubin’s positions (meaning that she’s good on national security and terror but not much else), not as loyalty to Israel over America.
Jeff Duntz, conservative Jewish blogger at Yid With A Lid would have none of it, “Erick is not the most subtle person around. If he were to make a charge of dual loyalty, the reader would be hit over the head with it.”
He goes further, “..maybe to the readers of the very liberal Washington Post she is a conservative, but to the rest of us conservatives she is nothing more than an arrogant ‘not conservative blogger’ who is not a big fan of either conservatives or bloggers.”
And yet, many of her beltway conservative media friends closed ranks. The defense? They know her. She’s nice.
And while it’s probably true that she’s a nice person, it doesn’t quite address the central criticism: that she’s biased against the conservative cause.
But more on that in a minute.
Last night, a fuming friend presented me a hastily torn out Letter from the Editor from G.Q. Magazine. The editor, Jim Nelson, a former CNN news producer and failed screenwriter vented his overworked spleen against…you guessed it, Rick Perry.
His paragraphs were long and convoluted–the kind of writing you’d expect from someone who has trouble finding the keyboard keys because the anger-induced adrenalin surge would be better suited to outrunning a bear. In this case, Jim Nelson was afraid he couldn’t outrun alpha-male Rick Perry. He’s the bogeyman and he’s coming to get meeee! Here’s a sample:
But I imagine that, come primary time, a lot of GOP voters, hoping to extend a middle finger to Washington, will find that fat little finger in Perry’s hand. Is he crazy? Who isn’t these days? Those throw-the-bums-outers will love Perry’s brand of craziness. He’s like Ron Paul without the diapers.
There’s more where that came from. Michele Bachmann isn’t spared, nor is nearly every mainstream American, forget conservative, idea: Boy Scouting is good, repealing Obamacare is wanted, the Commerce Clause is abused, etc.
Nelson edits a male fashion and lifestyle magazine, and has decided to go down the Graydon Carter road of mistaking his audience for people who care about his leftist opinion about the Republican primary contenders. Here’s the demographics:
TOTAL AUDIENCE: 6,612,000
Median Age: 34.3
Age 18-49: 82%
Median HHI: $72,738
HHI $100,000+: 31%
Gender: Male 73%/Female 27%
Education: Attended/Graduated College+ 70%
Employment Status: Professional 50%
Marital Status: Single 63%/Married 37%
Source: MRI Spring 2011
PROFILE OF AFFLUENT AUDIENCE:
Median Age: 39.9
Median HHI: $157,606
Gender: Male 82%/Female 18%
Education: Attended/Graduated College+ 83%
Employment Status: Professional 70%
Marital Status: Single 38%/Married 62%
Source: MMR 2011
Any guess how this demographic votes? Yeah. It’s no wonder print media of all sorts is losing readership. If the fury I witnessed is any indication, the magazine has lost another subscriber.
Jennifer Rubin writes for the Washington Post. She replaced Dave Weigel, the self-admitted non-conservative who voted for Nader, Kerry, and Obama, in that order. Before going to the WaPo, Jennifer wrote many places but found one of her homes at Pajamas Media, where I also wrote, and sometimes write. Her writing there was fair, and more importantly, balanced.
Conservatives who read her work now wonder why a conservative writer at the WaPo is needed at all—at least a conservative like this one. Far from being a haven of conservative thought, Rubin’s columns are informed by the same fundamental worldview as her liberal compatriots at the newspaper, like Greg Sargent and Ezra Klein—the same worldview which permeates the pages of the Post every day. Call it the “big city mayor” approach to government—or even the Big Brother approach.
To summarize: Government is a benevolent force, lead by intelligent people who will find solutions for the folks who don’t know better.
Unabashedly conservative politicians—particularly those who come from rural, southern, or western backgrounds—provoke panic for people with this worldview.
Whenever pundits like Jim Nelson or Jennifer Rubin start to lose it over the rugged individualistic, common sense, rather straight-forward, red-white-and-blue American ethic espoused by someone like Rick Perry, the movie Talladega Nights comes to my mind. Nearly every stereotype of the middle American bumpkin was thrown into that movie. And yet, the movie was a smash hit. Middle Americans, as it turns out, have a sense of humor about themselves.
What Hollywood meant as scorn, the viewers embraced. The jokes on them, smirk those in the know. If numbers mean anything, and in electoral politics and movie theaters, they do, the exact opposite is true.
Unlike the media consumers, members of the Smartypants Set™ most certainly do not have a sense of humor–unless you consider unironic allusions to being the 1% like New York University professor Jay Rosen made while being taped during his journalism class humor. Well. He thought he was funny.
Sensibility saviors and cultural vanguards take their role as gatekeepers for the ignorant masses deadly seriously. And a guy like Rick Perry and all the state-college-educated, gun-toting, Air Force-flying, Bible-loving, NASCAR watching, baseness sticks in the craw of the Smartypants Set™.
They are, as candidate Obama noted, “bitter clingers.” They just won’t let go of their cherished American traditions.
The common people, “provincial” as Jennifer Rubin described Perry, embarrass them. In the end, it’s all about how they feel. And being lead by a commoner, even a highly successful one, does not suit.
So, Jim Nelson has Barack Obama—suave, urbane and best of all, he knows how to wear a suit. And Jennifer Rubin has Mitt Romney—suave, urbane, and best of all, he knows how to wear a suit.
It doesn’t matter if the suit is empty or the suit isn’t conservative. The point is, these people don’t make the cultural elites uncomfortable. They are their people. They speak a language that resonates with news editors and commentators and even Washington Post
Increasingly, and regretfully, it’s a language not spoken anywhere but in the cloisters of Higher Ed and newsrooms and Hollywood and worst of all, Congress. It’s uniform, uninformed and anything but inclusive. There’s little diversity of thought, if any, and the unifying theme is “We know better than you.”
The tenor of the language is getting increasingly shrill and hysterical.
Jim Nelson’s screed was ill-thought out and tinged with paranoia.
Jennifer Rubin’s repeated bashing has become strangely personal. In her case, the willingness to print every spurious rumor as fact as long as it maligns Rick Perry (while ignoring nearly every other Republican candidate) is neither very objective nor very journalistic–well, not in the romantic journalist-as-objective-reporter nonsense she ascribes to.
Jay Rosen and Clay Shirky New York University journalism professors, and in Shirky’s case, a consultant to the New York Times spoke of how the New York Times created Barack Obama. Together they gloated and spoke of Chardonnay and shaping the news to diminish conservatives and elevate liberals.
Here’s the real takeaway: The media is neither objective nor in touch with the culture they seek to shape. They, like Obama, believe America, and especially conservative America, is fundamentally flawed. They don’t see a distinction between your average evangelical churchgoer and a snake-handler. They seek to poison the well for any politician or person espousing conservative ideology even in the face of the abject failure of their own.
This worldview is detached, egotistic and condescending. And as long as people who ascribe to it are allowed to dictate who is an acceptable leader and who isn’t, we’ll always end up with empty suits.