Corporate Media Non-Ideology

One interesting post-election story has been the treatment of Rahm Emanuel, a center-right Clinton Democrat who will serve as Obama’s chief of staff. While some Republicans claim Emanuel is too “partisan,” some media defenders argue that he’s not, since his politics are not all that liberal. Time magazine’s Karen Tumulty explains:

The strongest signal of how that White House will operate has been Obama’s pick of Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel to be its chief of staff. Emanuel is a win-at-any-cost partisan but not an ideologue; in his earlier White House stint as a top aide to Clinton, he was a key figure in shepherding through the North American Free Trade Agreement, a crime bill and welfare reform–none of them popular with the Democratic Party’s liberal base.

Apparently pushing for a corporate “free trade” pact and gutting public assistance for the poor are not “ideological”–they’re just the sort of common sense the media like to cheer. As for the idea that pushing policies unpopular with the party base is evidence of a “win-at-any-cost” outlook–well, that depends on your definition of “win.” When FAIR founder Jeff Cohen examined the Democratic Party’s electoral performance in the Clinton years (L.A. Times, 4/9/00), here’s what he found:

Let’s do the numbers. When Clinton entered the White House, his party dominated the U.S. Senate, 57-43; the U.S. House, 258-176; the country’s governorships, 30-18, and a large majority of state legislatures. Today, Republicans control the Senate, 55-45; the House, 222-211; governorships, 30-18, and almost half of state legislatures.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.