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Mind over Matters

I've said on several occasions that I don't care for Media Matters For America or their unofficial in-house blogger, Oliver Willis. Their mission statement is to expose and oppose conservative bias in the media -- apparently, in hopes of protecting and preserving the overwhelming liberal media bias that they approve of.

My irritation with Oliver is, as I've stated before, is largely motivated by jealousy. I don't envy his writing ability or traffic or readership (all of which I believe I have him thoroughly outclassed), but his employer. Or, at least, his employer's attitude. Despite his frequent assertions of independence, Oliver still manages to post several times during the work day, frequently supporting his employer's positions and citing their press releases.

But of course he is independent.

Regardless of that, on occasion Oliver and I have been civil. I visited him at his office one time, and it was a mostly cordial visit. (I'd have photos of Mr. Duckie in the Heart Of Darkness that is Media Matters, but my camera chose to go on the fritz that day in DC.)

That is to give a bit of context to the following.

A little while ago, one of Oliver's colleagues at Media Matters -- Justin Cole -- thought it would be a good idea to add me to his mailing list of bloggers. I thought about excoriating him in a private e-mail, but thought better of it and sent Oliver off a little note, asking/suggesting that he might want to have a word with his colleague. It was not so much asking of a favor, but a courtesy in the spirit of civility.

Shoulda known better. Oliver blew me off.

The missive that really annoyed me to the point of not just ignoring it was Justin's touting a study that Americans were not really as conservative as people thought, and were, in fact -- gasp! -- "liberal" and "progressive."

A Fisking of Cole's summary follows below.

The Progressive Majority: Why a Conservative America Is a Myth

Executive Summary

Conventional wisdom says that the American public is fundamentally conservative - hostile to government, in favor of unregulated markets, at peace with inequality, wanting a foreign policy based on the projection of military power, and traditional in its social values.

But as this report demonstrates, that picture is fundamentally false. Media perceptions and past Republican electoral successes notwithstanding, Americans are progressive across a wide range of controversial issues, and they're growing more progressive all the time.

Gee, someone must have been watching "The Wizard Of Oz" recently, because that's gotta be the most animated straw man since Ray Bolger. "Conservative" is considered synonymous with "hostile to government," "at peace with inequality," and "wanting a foreign policy based on the projection of military power" -- each nicely separated by a more traditional conservative value. Nicely done, folks.

Note also the "Media perceptions and past Republican electoral successes notwithstanding." It's a cliche that "the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day," but to Media Matters that seems to be the only one that DOESN'T count. Three of the last four presidents have been Republicans, and Democrats have won precisely three of the past 11 elections, going back to 1968. But that doesn't really matter; what matters are these new surveys.

This report gathers together years of public opinion data from unimpeachably nonpartisan sources to show that on issue after issue, the majority of Americans hold progressive positions. And this is true not only of specific policy proposals, but of the fundamental perspectives and approaches that Americans bring to bear on issues.

Nor is the progressive majority merely a product of the current political moment. On a broad array of issues, particularly social issues, American opinion has grown more and more progressive over the past few decades. In contrast, it is difficult to find an issue on which the public has grown steadily more conservative over the last 10, 20, or 30 years.

You can trust OUR sources and polls and surveys, because we say they're "unimpeachable." And considering (speculation here, but one I'm feeling fairly comfortable on this one) their likely position on Bill Clinton's impeachment (against it) and the potential impeachment of Bush/Cheney/Gonzales (for it) and (really speculating here) Alcee Hastings (forgive and forget -- preferably as soon as possible), I guess they would be experts on impeachment.

The issues covered in this report include the following:

* The role of government - Americans support an active government that tackles problems, provides services, and aids those in need.

Gee, I didn't know that conservatives didn't like a government that tackled problems, provided servises, and aids those in need. I was under the impression that they liked those, too -- they mainly quibble about which problems are really the responsibility of the federal government and which should be handled at a lower level of government, or not at all; provided only those services that it is Constitutionally authorized to do so and is the only body that can do so; and aids those in NEED, not those who simply prefer to depend on others to do what they should do for themselves. Thanks for clearing that up for me, Media Matters.

* The economy - Americans support increasing the minimum wage and strong unions, and believe the wealthy and corporations don't pay their fair share of taxes.

Americans also support free ice cream and puppies. Oddly enough, union membership has been falling for years, and I nearly everyone thinks that the wrong people (them) pay too many taxes, while the right people (everyone else) don't pay enough.

* Social issues - Americans support legal abortion and embryonic stem cell research; opinions on equal rights for women and gay Americans have grown dramatically more progressive in recent years.

Last time I checked, there were no restrictions on stem cell research -- only on using federal funds (in other words, your and my money) for it. And the support for gay marriage is so overwhelmingly, popular, the Massachusetts legislature just voted for the umpteenth time to preserve the court-mandated institution of gay marriage and keep the people of Massachusetts from being able to vote in massive numbers to enshrine it into the law.

* Security - Americans support a progressive approach to national security, emphasizing strong alliances and diplomacy over the indiscriminate use of military force. On domestic security issues, progressive approaches to crime and gun control enjoy wide support.

Apparently, we've been "indiscriminately" using our military around the world. I was under the impression that they had gone only where ordered by the President and authorized by the Congress. Why didn't anyone tell me that, when we weren't looking, the Air Force was bombing Myanmar, the Navy was terrorizing the Galopagos Islands, the Army was tramping through Sierra Leone, and the Marine Corps had re-enacted the flag raising on Iwo Jima on the Eiffel Tower? Darn, you can't take your eyes off them for a minute!

Oh, and the "progressive approaches to crime and gun control" seem to revolve around not sending criminals to jail and disarming everyone, in the hopes that the criminals and the law-abiding citizens would both give up their guns and everything would be just ducky and lovely and we'd all sing Kumbayah.

Oh, and that Second Amendment? Fugeddaboutit. Youse don't needs ta protect yourself, dah government will do dat for ya. We promise.

* The environment - By enormous margins, Americans favor strong environmental protections, a core progressive belief. * Energy - Americans support energy conservation and the development of alternative fuels.

I wonder if Media Matters has actually looked at who is considered the "good guys" and "bad guys" on environmentalism. Compare John Edwards and Al Gore, versus George W. Bush.

* Health care - Americans clearly favor universal coverage and are more than comfortable with government solutions to the health care problem.

America does NOT have a health care crisis. We have a health care FUNDING crisis, if anything. And all the rhetoric and blue-sky fantasy proposals and principles, can anyone cite a case when the government got involved in something, and it got CHEAPER? Hell, Hawaii passed price controls on gasoline a while ago, and ended up with some of the highest prices in the country.

In short, a look across the scope of American public opinion reveals a public that holds progressive positions and supports progressive solutions on economic issues, on social issues, on security issues - indeed, on nearly all the key issues confronting the country. For years, the conventional wisdom has maintained just the opposite, but the facts are impossible to ignore.

If that is what the American people want, then the American people are fools. But that is presuming that Media Matters is right -- and I simply don't trust them as far as I can throw them -- and I got a bad back.

More importantly, when it comes down to matters of principle and personal convictions and beliefs, I don't submit them to public approval and set aside my own opinions and judgments. I note what others say, and take them into account, but I make my own decisions.

I'm sorry, Justin, if that makes you uncomfortable. But I've tried the "follow the herd" approach in the past, and it just doesn't work for me.


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Comments (31)

Actually, I have been conce... (Below threshold)

Actually, I have been concerned about the increasing conservative bias in the mainstream media. We are seeing it more and more.

I am also having more and more sightings of Sasquatch at my golf course (and I don't mean the Nike golf club). It usually results in my slicing the ball badly when I think I see a glimpse of him.

No matter how I slice it, I... (Below threshold)

No matter how I slice it, I don't find support for his claims:

If Americans really were liberal as he claims... then they have to be silly for voting Republican (which would make Justin Cole rather silly for reading so much into a poll of silly people). But since being liberal is prima facie evidence of being smart, then there is no such thing as a stupid liberal, which means that anyone voting Republican can't be liberal, which means not as many people are liberals as he claims.

Looking at it from a somewhat different angle, since voting Republican is evidence of being stupid, evil and corrupt (characteristics not found in today's liberal), then there can't be as many liberals as he claims.

Remember, to the left, the ... (Below threshold)

Remember, to the left, the end always justifies the means.

Lying, misleading, propaganda--none of this counts if it is practiced by the left. They are the nannies, simply making all the choices for the "little people". We must not question them.

nikkolai,You seem ... (Below threshold)


You seem to have a good grasp of reality.

Right, they think that "we must not question them". So what are we to do?

See if you'll agree with me in my general thinking:

1) Do not waste time trying to have an honest debate. They are not interested in finding out what is true and good and real and beneficial. Only furthering socialistic agenda.

2) We need to play hardball. Have you noticed that the lawsuits brought on election day are most (if not all?) by Democratic lawyers who want to keep the voting booths in heavily Democratic areas open longer? Has this ever happened in Republican areas? We need to have a must win at all costs mentality like them.

3) We need a way of taking more control of the media and entertainment industry.


Others?More... (Below threshold)
Tin Foil Distributors of America:


More tin foil.

Wait a minute.... You mean... (Below threshold)

Wait a minute.... You mean.... I'm a liberal..?

Holy crap! I need to go change my party affiliation ASAP and bone up on my liberal talking points.

Bush is dumb. - Check
Bush is an evil genius. - Check
No blood for oil - Check
Tax big oil. - Check
Now I'll just slap an "Al Gore '08" sticker on my Hummer H2 and I'll call it a day. I don't want to overload myself.

That was an awesome fantasy... (Below threshold)

That was an awesome fantasy.......Jay was right, it did remind me of the "Wizard of Oz"!!

I wonder if some day a drug will be discovered to treat that mental condition called liberalism?

"* The economy - Americans ... (Below threshold)

"* The economy - Americans support increasing the minimum wage and strong unions, and believe the wealthy and corporations don't pay their fair share of taxes."

Yes, we should double the taxes on big oil so we can pay $6 a gallon....

"* Social issues - Americans support legal abortion and embryonic stem cell research; opinions on equal rights for women and gay Americans have grown dramatically more progressive in recent years."

And i support killing my in-laws and think Lee should be able to marry his dog....

"* Security - Americans support a progressive approach to national security, emphasizing strong alliances and diplomacy over the indiscriminate use of military force. On domestic security issues, progressive approaches to crime and gun control enjoy wide support."

Absolutely, we should turn our backs on terrorists that fly planes into buildings and hope that they go away - just like after the Cole bombing, etc....

"* The environment - By enormous margins, Americans favor strong environmental protections, a core progressive belief. * Energy - Americans support energy conservation and the development of alternative fuels."

Yes, we should burn oil to plant the corn so we can burn the corn and we should have firetrucks [that burn about 8 gallons to the mile] drive around so that the fireman can make sure my exit lights are working and allow Clinton to make planes fly around in circles so he can get his hair cut....

"I wonder if some day a ... (Below threshold)
Rob LA Ca.:

"I wonder if some day a drug will be discovered to treat that mental condition called liberalism?"

A Drug? No , that would mean much profits for those bad drug makers. They prefer to go to Planned Parenthood for their injections of Embryonic Stem Cells.

Hmmmm..... that would explain their incessant infantile tantrums and constant whining like babies.

The liberals don't post as ... (Below threshold)

The liberals don't post as often after they leave their government jobs in the afternoon.

They also don't post after they've been thoroughly beaten with truth, exposed as fakes, had their own lies shoved down their throats like swords, and handed their head back on a platter....

Let's face it. The bottom l... (Below threshold)

Let's face it. The bottom line with Progressives, Liberals, Leftists, and most of the Democrats is one thing: Advancing Communism in America at all costs. This will put them in the position of having complete power over the rest of us "stupid people." Then George Soros can advance his agenda of euthanizing people with mental disorders. Disagree with the Progressive agenda, and you will be "diagnosed" as having a mental disorder. There has been a slow march toward Communism in America starting in the 1920s with John Dewey, Felix Frankfurter and Roger Baldwin, through the 1930s with Herbert Marcuse and the Frankfurt School, which led to the New Left Marxists of the 1960s. Ask yourself why the Left is aligning itself with Radical Islam. Is it because "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"? Partially. In my opinion, it's because the pieces are in place for a bloodless Marxist coup to be brought to fruition if Hillary is elected in 2008. If not, the signal will be given for an army of invasion of over 1 million Islamic terrorists to storm this country, including the ones that are already here with their dirty bombs, to wipe out the United States as we know it, and then allow the Communist Left to build their Marxist utopia from the ashes. Wake up America.

I know that on social issue... (Below threshold)

I know that on social issues, Americans are becoming more progressive. Excellent.

Love it or leave it Jay.

Wow steak that sure soun... (Below threshold)
Rob LA Ca.:

Wow steak that sure sounds like alot of stuff there. Progressive , another word being basturdized by the democrats in their never ending reinventing of their despicable selves.

I submit the next buzz word for the party of perpetual fraud, "BUSY". As long as they say alot it will give the illusion that they are going to be doing alot. Too bad that's where it all ends because the work is already done, them yapping their flaps.

You can bitch and moan abou... (Below threshold)

You can bitch and moan about Media Matters, but you can't find fault with their conclusions. They report the lies of the right wring, and nobody has found errors in their reporting.

PS, Jay, does anything in your body or home actual work?

barneyGRUBBLE:... (Below threshold)


They report the lies of the right wring, and nobody has found errors in their reporting.

Well... not much

Mind over matter...Today a... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Mind over matter...Today at Tony Snow's press briefing "QUESTION:The war in Iraq has helped push the peace process forward in any way?...

SNOW: Don't know..

..QUESTION: But before the war the president said that taking out Saddam Hussein would help stabilize the Mideast. Do you think that's turned out to be true?

SNOW: Hard to say.".
How to you argue with that?..Perhaps the Republicans could use that on their 2008 campaign literature 'The War in Iraq 'has helped push the peace process forward ands helped stablize the Middle East'
If the Bush administration and their soothsayers like Snow or Jay, don't wake up soon enough they're liable to lose even some of their core base, (not chip or Rob La), and make the Oliver Willises, easy prophets, for this will still be the critical issue in 2008.

Marc, there are thousands o... (Below threshold)

Marc, there are thousands of articles in archive at media matters and you point to a handful of articles in contention and most of those are a matter of spin or opinion.

What about the thousands of articles that aren't under question? Do you care at all about 99% accuracy? Can you say the same about the Whitehouse?

Well gee Steve lets start w... (Below threshold)

Well gee Steve lets start with a false premise in the question shall we?

QUESTION: But before the war the president said that taking out Saddam Hussein would help stabilize the Mideast. Do you think that's turned out to be true?

Was taking out Hussein the only part of the Iraq equation?

Not hardly. But if your a hack reporter you MUST phrase the question in the hope you get the sound bite the fits your agenda.

And BTW barneyGRUBBLE... yo... (Below threshold)

And BTW barneyGRUBBLE... your exact quote was what...

"...Media Matters, but you can't find fault with their conclusions"

Well I did and it took all of 1.234 seconds and now after you've been proven to be full of beans you cry about The 99% solution." Or something.

marc,would you ple... (Below threshold)


would you please do what barney says and go through EVERYTHING written in the history of media matters and do the research and post each link here?

and barney, would you please go through EVERYTHING Media Research Center has written and report on ANY errors (actual intentional falsehoods).

And barney, how about we apply this standard on every argument you make (i.e. if you say Bush is a liar, you have to go though every public thing he ever said and point out that something less than 99% are actual intentional lies).

nehemiah:would... (Below threshold)


would you please do what barney says and go through EVERYTHING written in the history of media matters and do the research and post each link here?

And I should waste that much time appeasing him? Why?

My response was specifically directed to his false assertion ("but you can't find fault with their conclusions").

To that end I could have pointed to a single para, sentence or article. In fact I did better, I gave him access to numerous postings and archives that disprove his nonsense.

He made the ludicrous assertion, HE should have the intellectual honesty to, at the very least, admit he chose a poor choice of words to make a point.

Instead we get... but.... but "they are 99% right crapola."

That aside, anyone that thinks Media Matters is anything close to being bipartisan and a reliable source on right wing blogs/media outlets is a fool of the first order.

Cole's straw man aside, the... (Below threshold)

Cole's straw man aside, the US is, and has been less conservative in a partisan way than might appear. The remnant of Republican strength in lean years (1958-66, say) has always been girded by the equalizing design given the states' equal representation in the US Senate. 2 votes for North Dakota, 2 votes for the Empire State.

No revelation, of course, but Boy George's amnesty scheme will enable a premeditated take-over of the western (more Republican), small states by a medium-sized influx of New Americans. Which means the senate falls to cultural insurgents.

George LUVS insurgents! Ye olde chessboard! Always play the middle!

Isn't it interesting that f... (Below threshold)

Isn't it interesting that fact-checking on the left is subsidized, but not on the right. Curious, no?

marc,I didn't mean... (Below threshold)


I didn't mean that sincerely. I wrote that in your support to parody the ridiculousness of barney's request. Actually, if only 1% of their facts are wrong, that's quite a lot for a information site (I estimate it's quite a bit more wrong than 1%).

O'Reilly cleaned some guys ... (Below threshold)

O'Reilly cleaned some guys clock for the San Francisco Chronicle because he wrote an op/ed and used Media Matters for the quote. The quote was taken way out of context and the editor stammered trying not to say he got it from Media Matters. Funny to watch. ww

I never got your email, but... (Below threshold)

I never got your email, but even if I had -- I'm confused as to why you think the right way to get off Justin's list is to email me? Furthermore, don't you think your jealousy is a little ridiculous now? It's like once a month you have to write about how much you hate me and the organization I work for and how jealous you are.

I think that you're all mis... (Below threshold)

I think that you're all missing the point.

What does "conservative" mean? All it means is that a conservative person resists change. Which, frankly, seems rather smart in a lot of ways. Why not take the time to be certain that something is actually a good idea? Why *not* be difficult to persuade?

Progressive is the opposite. Rush forward to the next new best thing.

I've been noting for quite some time now that Conservatives are actually the classical liberals these days, the ones who actually believe in equal rights and equality and the universal need for liberty.

And "conservatives" are moving toward some things, definitely "big government" that they really ought not move toward... seeing government as the proper answer to problems rather than individual responsibility and choice.

What progressives are running full speed toward seems to be racial and cultural determinism. Otherwise known as the scourge of multi-culturalism (since diversity and tolerance just wasn't good enough.) And while they aren't too different from Republicans on the nanny state end of things (which is why libertarian and objectivist thought is gaining, I believe) they seem to be determined to deal with social issues and foreign policy though a rose colored lens of modern "bad stuff has to be learned" child rearing orthodoxy.

All I can say about that is that it's probably good that progressives don't have lots of kids. Though if they did they probably wouldn't make the "nurture over nature" mistake quite so badly. It's practically "nurture only" at this point.

Denying human nature is no way to deal with any element of domestic social policy or foreign policy. The base assumptions are wrong and always will be wrong. When that's the case, the answers can only be wrong as well.

I think that the truth of t... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

I think that the truth of the matter is that the average American...falls in the middle. I know. That's some amazing analysis.

Polls like the one Cole cites really don't tell us anything about the political leanings of people. They only tell us what they think about individual issues. in the South, Democrats, in general, are not a liberal as they are up North. Wetern Republicans are probably more liberal than their counterparts in other parts of the US.

Believing one way on an issue or even two or three does't mean that you whole-heartedly ascribe to that political philosophy. I, for one, believe in our public education system. I do believe that there is room for improvement, but I would not go as far as saying that vouchers are vital. That position doesn't make me a Democrat. It is just a by-product of the fact that I was educated ion public schools and did quite well, so I know that they can do it.

You just can't draw broad conclusions from such diverse data.

Synova:(which is ... (Below threshold)

(which is why libertarian and objectivist thought is gaining, I believe)

Curiously, "The World's Smallest Political Quiz" reports the number of respondents scoring as Libertarian was roughly equal to the number of respondents scoring as Centrist (within a % pt or two - totaling roughly 2/3rds of all respondents). Further, respondents scored as Libertarian nearly TWICE as often as they scored 'Liberal'.

Obviously, not scientific, but curious nonetheless.

Oliver Willis isn't curious... (Below threshold)

Oliver Willis isn't curious. He is, however, a curiosity. Aren't you jealous?

Remember the root of 'lib' ... (Below threshold)

Remember the root of 'lib' and you understand the power and the flaw.

So what is free about what is purchased, Ollie, me boy? G fundamentally misunderestimates this market.






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