Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Coming Calcification of the Conservative Media

by Michael P. Tremoglie
Tea Time Blog

For years now I have watched many talented, conservative, writers, filmmakers, television producers and journalists go unnoticed, unmentioned or unrewarded while their liberal peers are worshipped - even by conservatives.

Case in point, a few years ago Andrew Sullivan was all the rage in conservative media. They said he was a great writer, he was insightful, he was a force for conservatism in the world etc etc.


Andrew Sullivan's career began with what I call the Manhattan Media Mob. These are the people who launch the careers of your typical elite, liberal journalist. They do it for the same reason - pedigree.

Sullivan has the same Ivy League pedigree many liberal Democrats have. He has a Masters in Public Administration ( read big government here folks) from Harvard, as well as a PhD in government from there. He was an editor for The New Republic before he started his now famous blog. Now they do not come much more left wing than The New Republic.

Yet, despite these impeccable left wing credentials, Sullivan's musings were mentioned by conservative talk show hosts from Limbaugh to O'Reilly to Joe Red State's local show. Meanwhile legitimate conservative sources were not mentioned. It is as if the same pedigree that is needed to be granted entree into the liberal media world is also accepted as the passport into conservative media.

Worse than that, the conservative media is deteriorating into an "old boy's network." Specifically the Roger Ailes' network.

This is to be expected - and deserved - to a certain degree. Ailes, after all, is responsible for the success of Fox News and the career of Sean Hannity. He also contributed to Limbaugh's success and to that of Mary Matalin and others.

Being the first means he should get the lion's share of the rewards.

However, this should not mean exclusivity - especially when the political importance of this is so significant. Yet, this is what it has become. Conservative media outside of Limbaugh, Fox News and Salem Radio are ignored to a large degree. This is true with the new, metro, conservative newspapers, it is true with conservative movies and it is true with conservative books, plays, television shows and music.

Some cases in point.

I am certain that many of you who will read this know about Oliver Stone and Michael Moore.

How many of you know James Carabatsos? He is the antidote to Oliver Stone.

Carabatsos made the movies: Heroes, Hamburger Hill (arguably the greatest Vietnam War movie of all time), and The Lost Battalion ( one of the greatest World War I movies of all time), among many others.

His movies are as patriotic, pro-military and positive as Stone's are unpatriotic, anti-military and negative.

How many of you know Lionel Chetwynde?

He made the movies: Hanoi Hilton, D/C 9-11 Time of Crisis, Celsius 41.11( the refutation of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9-11), and Ike: Countdown to D-Day, as well as many, many more.

How many people know about the American Film Renaissance festival or the Liberty Film Festival? These are the quasi-Academy Awards for conservative films.

How many of you are familiar with the novels of W.E. B. Griffin's and William E. Butterworth IV ? They are bestsellers - so obviously many of you are. Yet, they are not household names like Grisham or Dan Brown.

Griffin's and Butterworth's novels all contain conservative, patriotic pro-law enforcement themes. However, there are many more conservative novelists (me included) who are not recognized.

Unfortunately, you will rarely, if ever, hear the names of Carabatsos, Chetwynde, Griffin, Butterworth and the rest mentioned by Limbaugh, Hannity, Fox News, Bennettt, Hewitt, et al.

Even people like Newt Gingrich do not include these talented conservatives among their favorite writers.

When it comes conservative newspapers - forgeddaboutit.

Conservative newspapers, such as the one I worked for, the Bulletin, were never mentioned by talk radio hosts or politicians despite being unparalleled sources of conservative information.

Indeed, Rush Limbaugh read one of my articles on his show one day, all the while stating he did not know what the Bulletin was. The same thing occurred when I appeared on the Bill Bennett show. Bill was not aware of the paper.

I think the greatest irony occurred when Rick Santorum was guest hosting Bennett's show one morning last May. He must have mentioned the names of ten different newspapers that day. He did not mention the Bulletin even though the paper quoted him regularly.

Then he had the audacity to lament that the liberals controlled the media. I recall screaming at him via my car radio that day. Santorum was sure as hell was not doing much to promote the conservative media.

The Bulletin was and is not the only conservative media outlet that is ignored. There are many others. (It is just the only one with which I have direct experience).

Many conservative organizations go unacknowledged by those who control the conservative media.

What about Frances Rice, founder and chairwoman of the National Black Republican Association? This former military officer has done yeoman work promoting the racism of the Democratic Party yet she labors in obscurity.

How many know about Ave Maria Law School and University? I routinely quoted their professors in my pieces, as well as those from Pepperdine, Grove City College and other conservative colleges and universities. Yet, I never noticed my journalistic colleagues do the same.

Give liberals credit for one thing. They will promote each others works. They will be effusive in their praise of investigative reporting and regularly mention the reporters or paper which exposed some scandal among Republicans. They do the same with filmmakers, novelists, songwriters and playwrights.

They understand the influence the arts has on journalism and on the collective psyche. They know the importance of liberal institutions in shaping the culture. As Steve Allen said, " You can write the laws, if I can write the songs."

Ask yourself this, while it's true that the names of Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe have mentioned routinely for their superb work in the ACORN scandal, how many times have you heard about Matthew Vadum?

Vadum has been tracking ACORN for years. When I broke the news , March 30, that the New York Times spiked information they had about collusion between ACORN and the Obama campaign (,
He was one of the first people I called for a reaction quote. I was using him as a background source another piece I was in the process of writing about ACORN when I discovered this information about the Times and ACORN.

Vadum is not the only one whose work is disregarded. Cliff Kincaid, who has organized protests againts Bill Ayers, is not media exposure by talk radio and others. These are just a few. There are plenty more I could name.

If the leading conservative outlets would spend more time searching conservative newspapers and conservative magazines instead of reading from the New York Times, Washington Post, ABC, NBC etc two things would happen.

First, there would be more information for conservatives to access and have the intellectual ammunition in their daily arguments. Conservative ideas would be able to thrive more easily.

Second, conservative media outlets would be more prosperous and there would be more of them.

If the conservative media would spend more time interviewing James Carabatsos, Lionel Chetwynde and others, than their movies, books and songs would become more popular.

Now I can hear some of you saying - with righteous indignation - "we are free market capitalists. If they cannot survive in the free market then their product is not very good. They must earn our listenership."

Once again - baloney!!

There is a political aspect to this.

The free market cannot exist without government. Otherwise it would lapse into anarchy . Without courts enforcing contracts business would lapse into the kind of market one associates with the Mafia.

Politics also regulates the airwaves. Otherwise Hannity, Limbaugh and every other talk radio host would not be urging their listeners to prevent implementation of the Fairness Doctrine. Such implementation would ruin their business.

The Fairness Doctrine would probably be a boon for conservative newspapers. At least some of their audience would now have to turn to these papers as sources of information. My old paper, The Bulletin, for example, would benefit greatly from the Fairness Doctrine.

Yet, not once did The Bulletin ever consider promoting the Fairness Doctrine at the expense of talk radio. If they conducted business according to a pure free market it would have.

So do not preach about the free market. Politics is an inherent part of all human activity - including the media business. Remember the old saying: "It's not what you know, it's who you know that determines success in business."

Well, this is becoming true in the conservative media - to the detriment of the ascendancy of conservatism as a political force in America. If the trend continues, conservative media will become ossified and a niche market.

The establishment conservative media does not have to be concerned about becoming unprofitable. Indeed, they will become more so by promoting the nascent conservative media. The pie will be expanded because the Pavlovian liberal treatment of the news - as currently exists - will be discredited completely.

Can the conservative media avoid calcification?

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