Commentary Magazine


Media Double Standards

Reminders of the mainstream media’s egregious political double standard vis-à-vis liberals and conservatives come on an almost daily basis. The latest is this week’s New York magazine, the cover of which features a head shot of John McCain smack in the middle of a bulls-eye target, accompanied by this charming teaser copy: “Target: Bush-Backing, Surge-Loving, Economically Clueless Geezer.”

Just try to imagine the frenzy of outrage that would ensue if a right-wing journal were to put on its cover Barack Obama’s face in a bulls-eye, along with the words “Target: Jeremiah Wright-Backing, Surrender-Loving, Foreign Policy-Clueless Slickster.”

The liberal blogosphere would suffer a nuclear meltdown and publications like…well, like New York would immediately commission articles on such an incendiary, and potentially tragic, choice of words and imagery and what it says about the scary intolerance–the “bitterness,” if you will–of Red-State America. Meanwhile, the New York Times would torture readers with a numbing slew of front-page news and “news analysis” pieces (think Augusta National Golf Club circa 2002-2003) on American bigotry, Republican sleaziness, and the approaching racial apocalypse.

But what about Obama’s condescending remarks on middle-class, small-town voters and their values? His words are a precise reflection of what liberal elitists have been thinking and saying for decades (with relative impunity in the private sector but at great cost during presidential campaigns). Yet similarly demeaning generalizations about subgroups on liberals’ endangered species list invariably result in orgies of self-righteous denunciation.

There’s something in the liberal mindset that causes otherwise intelligent and rational people to view small towns and their residents with inordinate fear and loathing. It’s why Hollywood, the epicenter of pop-culture liberalism, has long portrayed “townies” in a sinister light and often in need of help provided by their big-city superiors. In his 1979 book The View From Sunset Boulevard, Ben Stein devoted a chapter to “Small Towns on Television.” While a few of the writers and producers Stein interviewed had some positive things to say about small towns, the general attitude was highly negative and derogatory. “There are a lot of dumb, violent people in small towns,” declared the producer Garry Marshall (he of such brainy fare as “Happy Days,” “Laverne & Shirley,” “Mork & Mindy,” and “Joanie Loves Chachi”). One unnamed producer told Stein that small towns are “the kinds of places where the Ku Klux Klan could grow today . . . right now.” Asked whether she saw small towns as “frightening,” the late producer Meta Rosenberg “at first said ‘No,’ and then added, ‘Jesus, they did vote for Nixon.’”

Indeed they did. As, in 1972, did the majority of Americans in 49 of 50 states. Twelve years later, Ronald Reagan, another Republican reviled by the Left, scored another 49-to-1 knockout (with Minnesota taking Massachusetts’s place as the lone entry in the losing column.) But in the eyes of liberal elitists, unless we pull the Democratic lever, we’re all bitter small-town Americans.