Barbarians at the Gate
Eric Alterman | THE NATION, October 6, 2010
It's no secret that American conservatism has run itself off the rails just as it is poised to come to (legislative) power. Merely to list or categorize the self-evidently idiotic contentions one routinely hears from its most esteemed representatives could fill this magazine. And we all know about the role that talk-radio, cable television and the many-tentacled Murdoch empire have played in spreading hate and purposeful misinformation. What has frequently gone unremarked, however, is the mainstream media's role in empowering this bizarre barrage of BS.
Gingrich was recently reinvited to tout the work of Dinesh D'Souza, who is president of something called The King's College, which "teaches a compelling worldview rooted in the Bible," and who recently published a cover story in Forbes magazine in which he argued (wait for it) that, yes, "the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation's agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son." As the conservative writer Heather Mac Donald observed, the fact that this "fever dream of paranoia and irrationality" would appear in, much less on the cover of, a putatively respectable business magazine is "all too representative of the hysteria that now runs through a significant portion of the right-wing media establishment." And yet according to the man on Meet the Press, it offers "the most accurate, predictive model for [President Obama's] behavior."
Holocaust denial, I'll admit, is not exactly relevant to the current right-wing agenda being whitewashed in the MSM. But it should serve as a warning of how bad things can get without a vigorous, self-confident press to demand accountability from demagogues who prey on the ignorance of the uninformed.