As my old e-mail address dies off, so too will my subscription to the Media Research Center's daily Times Watch update. There was a day when I tried to give the MRC's claims the benefit of the doubt. That day has passed.
This morning's example: "Times Again Glosses Over Bill Ayers' Terrorism, Attacks Ad Instead." And you can read it, if you wish.
But here's the nub of the thing: Just because you throw shit at somebody shouldn't mean that everybody else has to stop what they're doing and pay serious attention to your shit-throwing. Were that the case the Times could station reporters at the National Zoo and just file live reports from the monkey house.
Headline: Former Chicago Community Activist Knew Sixties Radical. Well duh. And to the extent that the two of them had shared interests in political projects, I'm sure they worked together, were civil and helpful to each other, etc. That's what you do when you're a community activist working at the grass roots with few resources and scant public attention. You cooperate.
But that's not the story the MRC wants to tell. The members of the current conservative ruling class got where they are in large part by running against the Boomers who came of age in the 1960s. It's one of their favorite culture war themes: "While you were off in Vietnam serving your country, these liberal hippies were smoking dope and screwing your girlfriend and laughing at you the whole time. And they still are."
Obama is the first brown-skinned American to win a major party nomination, but he also shares another amazing distinction: He's the first post-Boomer nominee. Like me, Obama is a member of Generation Jones. We survived puberty during the disco age, invented punk, helped fuel the Clinton-era economic expansion and generally settled into middle age without particularly strong ideologies. For most Jonesers, our participation in the Sixties Culture Wars was limited to picking a favorite between Laugh-In and Hee-Haw.
The Republican Noise Machine is working overtime to extend its Us-versus-Them 1960s high-school cafeteria narrative to a Generation Jones candidate who was still watching Scooby Doo at the time. They don't care that the connection is tenuous to the point of absurdity: They just want to tell that story over and over until it sticks. It's the same kind of shit-throwing that we got with the picture of Obama in Kenyan garb, the supposed "madrassa," and that whole "Obama is a Muslim" line. Bullshit? Absolutely. And do the people selling it know it's bullshit? Absolutely.
Tonight Obama will speak, and when he's done, the conservative spinners will say this:
- He's just a good speaker who offers no specifics;
- People don't trust him because he lacks experience;
- He didn't succeed in convincing people that he really loves America;
- Everybody knows this, but it's not being reflected publicly because Obama is "The Media's Candidate."
Why do they do this? Because it's all they've got left. They're trying desperately to wish these beliefs into existence, and they're relying on their usual media tools to deliver their product.
Will it work? Well, it's worked before. But a lot of things that used to work have stopped working over the past few years, and people all across America have been waking up to the realization that they've been played by the Swiftboaters and the race-baiters and the Culture Warriors.
How do we create a set of filters that not only catch the bullshit, but explain why it's bullshit? Great question.