There are three things to learn from the above clip. The first is that Glenn Beck believes Obama wants to institute an oligarchy, which Merriam-Webster defines as government "by the few" or "in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes." The second, as evidenced by Beck's spelling and bizarre logic, is that his claim is probably just as crazy as it seems. The third is that Media Matters, the popular liberal media watchdog group that put out this video, wants people to draw those two conclusions, as one only could from this brief and embarrassing clip.
Yet, if Sarah Palin's death panels claim or Michael Steele's suggestion that the VA wants veterans to commit suicide are any indication, Media Matters will likely fail in discrediting Beck. After all, weeks after Palin's death panels were thoroughly discredited, we're still discussing them. With so many liberal media watchdogs out there, why is their track record so bad? A few members of the liberal blogosphere are theorizing.
Conor Clarke credited GOP strategy
I've said this all before, but it's important to be repetitive about what the GOP strategy on this subject has been. Namely, (1) Make a silly claim ("death panels!"); (2) Have the silly claim disproved ("there are no death panels!"); (3) Avoid defending the original silly claim, and instead chalk the whole controversy up to an interpretive ambiguity or an inherently uncertain question about what may or may not happen in the vague and sinister future ("programs that seem benign at first can become anything but"). Like Jim Morrison before him, philosopher-poet Michael Steele knows that the the future is uncertain and the end is always near.
Matthew Yglesias blamed the back-and-forth
Steven Pearlstein has a great piece in today’s Washington Post slamming Michael Steele’s moronic op-ed from earlier this week.
Still, it seems to me that from an institutional perspective when you publish a nonsense Michael Steele op-ed and then publish a strong rebuttal to the op-ed you are, on net, detracting from the American people's understanding of the issues. It’s the same as when you let George Will mislead people about climate science and then publish various rebuttals. In general, a serious publication doesn’t host "debates" about totally worthless ideas. The fact of the debate is meant to suggest the existence of some debatable issue. The back-and-forth between Steele and Pearlstein indicates that there's a debate about Steele's ideas. That's a win for Steele—the guy who’s basically making up BS. Which means that the Post is contributing to the creation of an ever-more-BS-full debate in years to come.
Charles Warner argued that watchdogs help the people they want to discredit
What Ailes and News Corp. want are ratings, as pointed out by Jeff Bercovici in his blog on AOL's Daily Finance titled "Sorry, Fox News boycotters -- Glenn Beck's not going anywhere." Controversy gets ratings and with all the current publicity, Beck’s ratings will spike up at least for a while, maybe permanently.
Dave Weigel pointed out an echo chamber effect
Deep thought: The proliferation of liberal media watchdogs has led to much, much, much more repetition of what conservatives say.
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