Thursday, May 17, 2012

NE Sen. Johanns: Fischer won't get "tangled up" in Tea Party

Yesterday, the right wing media was abuzz with the story of Deb Fischer, the Tea Party David who took down the establishment GOP's Goliath, Jon Bruning. So why would Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns take issue with that?
“She's not going to get tangled up in Tea Party and everything else,” Johanns told the Omaha World Herald. “I just think she's going to be a very common-sense, practical conservative, and we need more of that here.”

Conventional wisdom would say that Johanns isn't even making sense. How can the Tea Party candidate not get "tangled up" in the Tea Party? What is he talking about?

Johanns is talking about reality. What's being billed as a Tea Party victory has almost nothing to do with the Tea Party. I'm not going to make many friends among those who claim victory after-the-fact, but the simple truth is that no Nebraska Tea Party groups made any official endorsements in the primary election. I don't doubt that there were many Tea Party people working in the Deb Fischer campaign, as there were in the Stenberg and Bruning campaigns. But there was no unified and organized Tea Party thrust behind any one candidate because all the candidates had Tea Party ties. (For more explanation about what really happened, I recommend this article from  Leavenworth St: "How Deb did it.")

As controversial as that truth is (and yes, truth can and often will be controversial) it hints at something even more uncomfortable. I've been observing and commenting in other forums for quite some time that right wing media has been taking too many lessons from their mainstream counterparts. But this salvo landing right in my home puts the hard underline beneath what I've been saying. Right wing media has adopted one of the mainstream media's favorite tools, and it's also one that the right loves to expose: the Narrative.

Defined, the "narrative" tactic is where one or several media outlets emphasize the news that supports a particular story that the outlets want to tell. At it's most basic, this tactic employs self-censorship and selective editing, reporting only desirable information and excluding the rest. In a more advanced state, the tactic actually involves altering facts to enhance the story being told. Even in basic form, the narrative approach to reporting borders on fiction, but the advanced form is outright fabrication.

Currently, the narrative that the right wants to promote is that the Tea Party is taking down the Republican establishment and cleaning up the party. This is what the radio talkers and conservative bloggers want to happen, so they will gladly report any story where it does. But I have seen with my own eyes that they aren't content to just report when it happens. In the case of the Nebraska primary for US Senate, one would think the media on the right would be thrilled to report that conservatism has so taken hold of the state that Republican voters have only conservative candidates to choose from.

Not so. So desirous are they to push their desired narrative, right wing media personalities have actually branded solid conservative candidates as establishment RINOs. How else to you dismiss an Attorney General who was one of the first to bring suit against ObamaCare, pledging to do so before it was even signed into law? Important and prescient facts like this are deftly swept under the rug and instead frontrunner status is falsely equated with the "establishment." If such logic were made consistent, Deb Fischer should now be an establishment Republican by virtue of her victory.

This just goes to show that the supposed reforms that the new media was going to bring to journalism were embarrassingly short-lived. It casts a pall over all their reporting and slings us back into the age where the news couldn't be trusted.

FURTHER READING: Why Speculate? A talk by Michael Crichton

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