There's no other public figure active in the U.S. political arena today (possibly other than the one who currently occupies the Oval Office) who's been more scrutinized by the media, who's endured more "scandal" coverage, who has been thoroughly trashed by the partisan press opponents, and who still comes out the other side marching on. So now what?
With a Democratic president, many talkers from 2004 now turn their attention, and their wrath, to Pennsylvania Avenue and use the deaths as a cudgel to bash the president as being impotent -- i.e. "He didn't prevent the deaths!" Of course neither did Bush, but the Fox rules of propaganda were different for him.
Less than three years ago, Rick Perry showed himself to be an extraordinarily bad campaigner with a tin ear for retail politics. Yet today, Perry is touted by the Beltway press as a "handsome" and "underrated" campaigner who stands poised for greatness in the next presidential campaign. Somewhere Al Gore must be shaking his head.
The news regarding the Star-Ledger isn't just about the challenges New Jersey's largest newspaper faces with a newsroom one-third its previous size. The larger question is what happens to newsgathering, and what happens to a democracy, when the cutbacks show no signs of abating while super-donor forces in politics exert unprecedented influence?
Increasingly reliant on bad fringe actors like Nugent to connect with their far, far-right audience, the conservative media have built up Obama-bashing personalities who no longer occupy any corner of the American mainstream. Yet Nugent enjoys deep ties with Republican campaigns all across the country. When those ties receive media scrutiny, they cannot be defended.