Jul 1 1995


True Confession

“I admit it — the liberal media were never that powerful, and the whole thing was often used as an excuse by conservatives for conservative failures.” — William Kristol, editor of the Standard, Rupert Murdoch’s soon-to-be-launched conservative weekly (New Yorker, 5/22/95)

Dole’s True Lies

Sen. Robert Dole condemns Hollywood for producing “nightmares of depravity,” yet he’s a regular guest on the talkshows of G. Gordon Liddy and Bob Grant — hate mongers who don’t produce fictional depictions of violence, but encourage real violence against real people. Many people have noted that the misogynistic, Arab-bashing gorefest True Lies, cited by Dole as part of a group of family-friendly films, stars Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger and is produced by the Fox movie studio owned by Republican ally Rupert Murdoch. Some critics have also suggested that Dole’s singling out of Time Warner, headed by Gerald Levin, was an attempt to capitalize on stereotypes of Hollywood Jews (Frank Rich, New York Times, 6/4/95). Maybe that wasn’t on Dole’s mind, but what was Patrick Buchanan thinking of when, in an appearance on Nightline (6/1/95), he twice reminded Norman Lear (who is Jewish) that Jesus Christ was “the greatest man who ever lived”? Immediately afterward he accused Lear: “You folks have control of the minds of children. And you are corrupting these children.” We have to wonder whom he means by “you folks.”

Triumph of the Wills

“There are some people in Washington whose entire life consists of raising questions,” George Will complained (Washington Post, 5/23/95). “To me, it’s beyond boring. I don’t understand the whole mentality.” Will was complaining because some of these people — they’re called reporters, George — were wondering whether his repeated attacks on President Clinton’s trade sanctions against Japanese car imports had anything to do with his spouse’s job as a registered agent for the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. In a May 19 column, for example, Will blasted Clinton for using “trade-annihilating tariffs to coerce another government into coercing its automobile industry” — without disclosing that his wife, Mari Maseng Will, received some $200,000 last year to lobby for that same industry. In response to charges of conflict of interest, Will told the Post‘s Howard Kurtz: “I was for free trade long before I met my wife. End of discussion.” (Mari Maseng Will has since gone on to work for Senator Dole’s presidential run, and reportedly wrote Dole’s anti-Hollywood speech — but then, George Will was probably attacking popular culture he didn’t understand long before he met his wife, too.)

Thy Neighbor’s Radio

“I may turn it off at my house, but my neighbor may not. The radio may be telling my neighbor to go kill the liberal next door.” — James Latham of Radio for Peace International‘s Far Right Radio Review, explaining why he doesn’t “just turn off” right-wing programs (New York Times, 4/30/95)

Ignoring the Bold Print

When Rush Limbaugh complained that the New York Times never covered the Contract With America until after the ’94 election,he was, as usual, wrong (Extra! Update, 6/95). But mainstream media, which are more interested in horserace stories and personality profiles than in policy proposals, did fail to give proper attention and scrutiny to the Republican blueprint. Now they’re doing the same thing with the Christian Coalition’s “Contract With the American Family,” a similar blueprint for the Christian right. On the day the Family Contract was unveiled (5/18/95), a short, unspecific report appeared in the New York Times — on page B13. It didn’t mention most of the Contract’s provisions — for example,the provision that would make it easier for parents to beat their children. On the front page that same day was a profile of the leading U.S. and Japanese trade negotiators, which revealed that when the two are alone, they “talk about everything from Shintoism to baseball to their college days.” Is that really as important as the Christian Coalition’s plans for the country?

Right and Righter

CNBC is planning to launch a new program on the media — entitled Beat the Press — but it’s not clear if the point is to criticize media bias or to demonstrate it. On the right will be Arianna Huffington, new-age conservative and wife of the failed California Senate candidate. “Fierce, funny and savvy, Huffington’s show is gearing up to assault the U.S. news media,” the Washington Times reports (4/5/95). But what’s really funny is the choice of Huffington’s balancing co-host: It’s Camille Paglia, described as a “left-wing libertarian rabble-rouser” by the Washington Times. Left-wing? Paglia’s the “feminist” who said (in her book Sexual Personae) that “feminism, arguing from the milder women’s view, completely misses the blood-lust in rape, the joy of violation and destruction.” And that “if civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts.”