Entire organizations were formed to document liberal media bias. A book on the "liberal slant" of news coverage was often an instant ticket to the bestseller list. And, in the subsequent decades, whether in the hands of Rush Limbaugh (who, without any trace of irony, relentlessly attacked the "drive-by media") or with the rise of Fox News — which claimed to be objective in comparison to virtually everyone else — the movement grew. By 2004, the conservative Club for Growth could attack Democratic candidate (and later party head) Howard Dean by telling him to take his "tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont, where it belongs." (emphasis added) And everyone knew what the reference to the Times meant.
One of the great "successes" of the modern conservative movement has been the extent to which it has discredited and delegitimized mainstream journalism. So, the next time a reporter loses his or her job, you can go ahead and credit (or blame) the Internet and the economy. But without the legacy of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, the history and future of American journalism might be very different.
To read the "Stark Ravings" blog, go to thePhoenix.com/blogs/starkravings. Steven Stark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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