Friday, May 8, 2015

Clay Muddies Waters on NY Times Rubio Story

MRC Watch Dept. - Most of the items on this blog deal, in one way or another, with the fundamental irrationality of the "media criticism" offered by the Media Research Center. The mailman who flew his gyrocopter into the capitol in an effort to raise awareness about money in politics posed no danger to anyone but the MRC's writers described him as having pulled a reckless stunt that endangered everyone in its path. Days later, Pamela Geller, who endangered everyone around her by holding a Muhammad art contest aimed at poking the hornet's nest of violent right-wing Islamist extremists, is praised by the same writers for standing up for "free speech" (a thing in which Geller doesn't even believe). When the contest was attacked, the MRC gang tried to scandalize every press outlet that reported the controversial nature of the event, even going so far as to object to Geller's group being described as "anti-Muslim," the uncontroversial fact that formed the would-be killers' motive. As noted on this blog, any reporter who tried to leave out every bit of information the MRC wanted suppressed would be unable to relay even the most basic facts of the story. There's no rhyme or reason to any of this. The MRC's overarching charge of a "liberal media" is a phantom and its writers are forced to indulge in whatever surreal distortions, double standards and doublethink are necessary to peddle this fantasy day in and day out to their very conservative audience -- reactionary confirmation bias as commerce.

Today, the New York Times ran an article about Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio and his place in a changing Republican party. It was co-authored by former National Review writer Jonathan Martin, it was quite favorable to Rubio and it appeared on the front page above the fold.

If you think this doesn't leave the advocates of the "liberal media" myth much cause to complain, you haven't met the MRC's Clay Waters. While conceding that the article was "rather positive toward Rubio himself," Waters griped that "the report and the surrounding headlines came down hard on the GOP as an old, stodgy, white party." Martin and co-author Ashley Parker wrote:
Republican voters are overwhelmingly white: The composition of the electorate in almost every contested state during the 2012 party primary was about 90 percent or more non-Hispanic white, according to exit polls.
Waters characterized these uncontroversial facts as "Martin rubbed in the GOP's demographic doom" and continues:
Back in March, Martin played the same theme of stick-in-the-mud Republicans by embracing moderate Jeb Bush, whom he viewed as helpfully lecturing his party that it 'must accept a changing country: that the path to the presidency will be found through appealing to voters who may not look like them.'"
Jeb Bush, the current front-runner in the 2016 Republican presidential race, has become a hate-figure on the far-right solely as a consequence of his refusal to race-bait on the immigration "issue" -- Bush's wife is Hispanic. This single departure from orthodoxy has led to his being denounced as a "RINO" (Republican In Name Only), a "moderate" and even a "liberal" but by any reasonable estimation, the notion that he's anything other than a very conservative Republican is strictly the domain of reactionary cranks. The GOP's problem with minorities, particularly Latinos, has led to a great deal of conversation within the party and in conservative circles. A faction of the GOP is as yet unwilling to forgo the political benefit that can still be squeezed from inflaming the anxieties and resentments of those who feel there are too many brown people with funny accents walking around and being catered to. As a senator, Rubio himself championed immigration reform only to see it ruthlessly torn to shreds by the right wing of his own party -- he ended up humiliatingly having to back away from the bill he, himself, had drafted.

Waters doesn't pretend as if this inter-party fight hasn't been happening. He doesn't even challenge any of the facts in the piece. His sole objection is that what he calls "the condescending theme of Republicans unprepared for a 'changing country'" -- a very real problem and one being addressed by a former National Review writer but one Waters doesn't want to acknowledge -- is on display in the New York Times.

And that's how the need to relentlessly feed the "liberal media" fairy tale ends up distorting a major propaganda coup for a conservative Republican candidate -- a pro-Rubio article by a sympathetic writer plastered on the front page of the New York Times -- into something bad.


[This article was written for MRC Watch, a blog that critiques the unfortunate work of the Media Research Center.]

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