Stop the presses!
Put out a bulldog edition!
The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne says today that there's now "overwhelming" evidence that the most boisterous people at the most raucous town hall meetings got too much media attention during the August recess. This distorted the picture of the nation's real mood, he says. Unbalanced coverage might be influencing policymakers! All the focus on the naysayers may have derailed ObamaCare.
But why so surprised? Of course the cameras tended to focus on the screamers and fist-shakers. Of course microphones get shoved in the mugs of people who mouth-off. That's the way it's been since the advent of television news. And the electronic media's attraction to loudmouths has been something the left has used to great political advantage since the 1960s, when a relative handful of radicals -- people far out of the American mainstream -- learned that they could dominate the news and political debate just by throwing a public fit.
Funny that Dionne only takes note of this, or finds something untoward about it, when those grabbing the spotlight aren't on the left. Dionne has been in the news biz for decades. Surely he's noticed how it feeds on conflict and controversy. He must have noticed how it paints a distorted picture of America.
Six hippies chain themselves to a logging truck, to protest the end of old growth forests. Cameras are there. Politicians take notice. No complaints from E.J.. Nine nuns gather at the gates of an air force base, praying to end the nuclear arms race. Cameras are there. Politicians take notice. No complaints from E.J.. A pair of animal rights protesters splash blood on a celebrity, found guilt of wearing a fur. Cameras are there. Politicians take notice. No complaints from E.J.. One overwrought and unbalanced mother, grieving the loss of a soldier-son, stalks the president wherever he goes. Cameras are there. Politicians pile on. No complaints from E.J..
Then comes August, 2009. Thousands of people begin mobbing congressional town hall meetings, anxious about the direction the country is going. Apathy turns to anger. Normally easy-going Americans begin jeering the political platitudes. Cameras are there. Politicians take notice. But only now do we hear objections from E.J.. Only now does he ask whether the media is being manipulated. Only now does he wonder whether a vocal minority is wielding too much influence.
The tree-huggers, the nuns, the PETA people, the Cindy Sheehans: none of these lunatics represent "mainstreet America." Yet for decades they've held the media spotlight, almost at will, exercising more influence than they deserve, with nary a peep of protest from left-wingers like Dionne. But when the "silent majority" from real mainstreet America is finally pushed to the point of rebellion by a radical in the White House, and starts raising its voice in protest, people like Dionne want to dismiss the phenomenon as a right wing media creation.
I have a three word response. Un. Fing. Believable.