Take The Washington Free Beacon.
The new D.C.-based Web publication was started by conservatives who regard the Center for American Progress as so beastly that they liken the progressive non-profit to a vicious wolf. Their plan? Clone it! I am not imputing motives that aren't there. Says Matthew Continetti, The Washington Free Beacon's talented editor in chief, in an inaugural essay titled Combat Journalism:
Republicans were routinely outspent, divided, and distracted by the messes they had made for themselves. They lacked, too, the means by which the progressives had so effectively identified, frozen, personalized, and polarized their targets: the wolf pack. Tony Blair, in a 2007 speech, described the press as a "feral beast" that tore "people and reputations to bits." But the feral beast is not a solitary creature. Hunting in a pack, he surrounds his targets and devours them in swarms. The Counter-Counter-Establishment's greatest achievement was in serving as the wolf pack's sleigh driver. The left-wing groups, in concert with the Democratic Party, would select the Republican politicians, institutions, and media figures on which the beast would feed.
Whether the victim was George Bush, Joseph Lieberman, Sarah Palin,
Rush Limbaugh, Charles and David Koch, the Chamber of Commerce, Fox News
Channel, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, or Mitt Romney, the technique
was the same. The left blogosphere would manufacture a smear or
distortion or line of attack. Larger blogs and liberal news sites like
Huffington Post or Talking Points Memo would pick it up and publicize
it. From there the critique would jump to liberal radio and MSNBC and
Comedy Central's news parody shows. Before long, the mainstream media
would be reporting the misinformation as news that was fit to print. By
the time the wolf pack reached that point in their meal, the prey had
little hope of survival.
Sounds vicious and unethical, doesn't it?
Yet here is what Continetti told Politico about the new publication he's running: "Our models are the Center for American Progress/Think Progress, TPM, and Huffington Post politics. These outlets have been at the cutting edge of ideological journalism for years, and it is time for the right to emulate their success."
This is what D.C. does to some people.
Among conservatives, it isn't even noteworthy that the editor in chief of a new publication is openly modeling his enterprise on a sort of journalism he regards as corrosive and dishonorable when others do it. Neither Jennifer Rubin nor John Podhoretz thought to mention it in their write-ups. Nor is anyone remarking upon the irony of the publication's name. It is inspired by a Ronald Reagan speech: "How stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure,
and happier than it was eight years ago. But more than that: After 200
years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite
ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she's
still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all
the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the
darkness, toward home."