THE BLOG
10/16/2012 10:41 am ET Updated Dec 16, 2012

Leaning Tower of Journalism

The Republicans have had more success with election slogans and catchphrases for obvious reasons: they are, after all, the party of commerce and advertising.

Modern advertising doesn't mean "Buy Hogen's Beer." It means knowing your individual beer-drinker or car buyer or voter down to his or her last weakness. Electronic media and the computer made that easier and cheaper.

Twentieth century advertising quickly recognized the economies of scale and the effectiveness of a big lie endlessly repeated. Perfect examples would be "Big Government" or "burdensome government regulations." Sometimes they even became a single word: Obamacare.

One coinage I've been watching closely has been "left-leaning media." Sarah Palin (or one of her writers) came up with some promising hash tags in the 2008 campaign. "Gotcha questions" sort of stuck, but were ones that could be used against both sides, so they had limited impact.

"Lame stream media" aimed directly at the target -- the Right -- wanted to attack by smearing the entire press as biased towards the diabolic left-wing news and information industry. But "lame stream" was far too complex. Not catchy enough.

The current "left-leaning media" seems to do the job. It's easily grasped and gently inserts the word that panics most journalists: "left!" American journalists have been educated to venerate the utterly impossible concept of journalistic objectivity, or at the very least "even-handedness." To see this at its most pointlessly neutered, watch the PBS Newshour.

Countless segments offer a set-piece: Senator Crankcase and Senator Briefcase politely presenting dueling talking points.

"Senator Crankcase, it's your contention then that human life begins at the first handshake between a man and a woman?"

This sort of pablum hasn't got a chance against the Faux News Channel when Fox News is shamelessly, indeed, gleefully right wing! While O'Reilly and Hannity stomp the facts to smithereens, Brian Williams and Wolf Blitzer pussy-foot around with "one for your side" and now, "one for your side."

All this might be dismissed as a grouchy news junky's trivia except that each year the rightwingers inexorably move the center of the field further to the right. That's a word which doesn't make them a bit uncomfortable, while liberals cringe at the very sound of "left."

The right wing's other verbal coup is capturing the term "conservative." In their dictionary, "small government" could intrude into your bedroom, tell you who to sleep with and when and how to procreate. Fiscal conservatives can now start multiple wars on credit and run up huge federal deficits. Clearly the actions of radicals, not conservatives. But no one in today's mealy-mouth media have pressed them on it. Day by day, reactionary language squeezes out reasonable progressive ideas, and our supposedly left-leaning press meekly adopts the latest linguistic rules. We've gone from excoriating "robber barons" to venerating "job creators!"

In this century, the news business has gone from straight and unbiased news to bending over backwards to flat on your back. Political parties are already irrelevant in this country. Is the press next in line? Or is it already there?