Jun 1 2005

Something to Get Worked Up About

New CNN president Jonathan Klein offered a novel theory about why there aren’t more progressives on television (Charlie Rose Show, 3/25/05): They aren’t angry enough. When asked if there could ever be a successful progressive version of Fox News Channel, Klein explained that while Fox was tapping into a brand of “mostly angry white men” conservatism,

a quote/unquote, “progressive” or liberal network probably couldn’t reach the same sort of an audience, because liberals tend to like to sample a lot of opinions. They pride themselves on that. And, you know, they don’t get too worked up about anything. And they’re pretty morally relativistic. And so, you know, they allow for a lot of that stuff.

If Klein really thinks progressives “don’t get too worked up,” it might be because he’s watching too much CNN, where centrists are often booked to stand in for bona fide progressives (Extra!, 9-10/04.) But outside the CNN studios, millions of progressives have been denouncing the Patriot Act, organizing against the Iraq War and fighting attacks on Social Security.

As for progressives being “pretty morally relativistic,” Klein’s insult seems misapplied. It’s the right and not the left that tends to condemn the killing of civilians only when the civilians are the right nationality, and thinks torture may be acceptable if the right people are torturing. (See Extra!, 9-10/95)