Shutdown Politics: Media No Longer Champions of Civility and Bipartisanship
Up until just a few days ago, the American media were our country's top cheerleaders for what they describe as "functional government." The highest value in government, according to our media, was "getting things done." And the way to get things done, we were told repeatedly, was through civility, compromise, and bipartisanship. But over the past couple of days, as the prospect of a government shutdown looms closer, the media have completely abandoned those principles.
In the name of civility, I'm old enough to remember (because it was just last week) when the media made politicians pay a heavy political price for harsh rhetoric and name-calling. Again and again, we have seen the media turn away from the issue at hand and make the "rhetoric" used to push the issue the issue.
For example, when running for president last year, Newt Gingrich wanted to talk about the explosion of food stamp recipients under President Obama. But the media just wanted to talk about whether he was racist for using the words "food stamps."
Think about how many times some local Republican politician, or some conservative private citizen, at a town hall meeting, has made national headlines because of what the media described as "extremist political rhetoric." Good heavens, how many times has some straggler's Tea Party sign made NBC's Chuck Todd tut-tut with disgust.
Think about how many times the media have used how a conservative made a political point as a way to gang up on and relentlessly pummel him or her -- all while ignoring the issue.
Remember that whole fashion season of the media collectively wringing its hands over "eliminationist rhetoric?" Remember how the following fashion season was devoted to the scourge of "bullying."
But that was then; this is now -- and now the media have officially ended their opposition to over-the-top political rhetoric. We don't know this because the media sent out a memo or made an official announcement; we know this because President Obama and Democrats have been accusing Republicans of being arsonists, anarchists, terrorists, extremists -- and this is all Chuck Todd has to say about it…
And the rest of the media have been just as shoulder-shrugging and silent in the face of all this harsh, partisan, eliminationist rhetoric.
But that is not the only change in media policy that happened this past week. The media are also no longer concerned with making Washington work or the value of bipartisanship and working across the aisle. President Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi have made it absolutely clear that they will not negotiate in budget battles that could result in a government shutdown, and the media are absolutely okay with this.
In the past, when Republicans dug in their heels or didn't seem willing to compromise enough to satisfy Obama, the media were outraged over DC dysfunction and the lack of bipartisan compromise.
So it is finally over -- the era of the media placing the highest value on bipartisan compromise and civility has finally ended. The media are now for harsh rhetoric, gridlock, and extremism. Or…
…maybe the media are just a bunch of hypocritical, lying, left-wing hacks who despise the GOP and are willing to sell their honor in order to help Obama to a political win?
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC