Thursday, September 02, 2004

David Brooks, Libertarianism, Media Bias and All That Jazz

I was flabbergasted a moment ago to hear David Brooks on PBS's convention coverage. I've never really liked him, I should say, and I don't know anyone either conservative or libertarian who does.

But this was too much. Paraphrased, regarding Bush's challenge tonight: "He's got to come out and say he's not Barry Goldwater, that he's not a libertarian. He's got to say that he recognizes that government can do great things, and that he has the best ideas for the good things government can do in people's lives." Look, I knew neither he nor Bush are libertarians, and I know that the last gasps of Goldwater's greatness mostly died with Reagan. But to have it so explicitly put out there was heartbreaking.

This points to one of the things that makes me skeptical that ANY major news outlet, from NPR to Fox News, actually provides fair coverage of the plenthora of political viewpoints. My sense is that most (though not all) mainstream news outlets lean left - but even when they don't, they just provide the standard left/moderate/right axis. Sometimes, you see a substantive debate about liberty vs power over a single issue, like over the conflict between free speech and campaign finance law, and the gun control issue. But it stays schizophrenic at best, with the token leftist and token conservative switching sides about the efficacy of government force. Then the nature of force gets lost entirely in other issues, like over stem-cell research, abortion, and education. Thus, a decision not to fund becomes a "ban", and pro-"choice" advocates push for coercively-obtained tax money to fund abortion and birth control, and not providing a "moment of silence" in public schools becomes "supressing" religious freedom.

Maybe this is just what you get when libertarian views are such a minority. Ralph Nader gets far more publicity than any libertarian will, but he's probably also quite frustrated to see commentary from the "Democrat" facing off the "Republican." Nevertheless, it doesn't mean that I can't complain about it. :-)


Blogger Thad said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Thursday, September 02, 2004 6:09:00 PM  
Blogger Thad said...

I've never really liked him, I should say, and I don't know anyone either conservative or libertarian who does.At last, something we can agree on! [grin]

Thursday, September 02, 2004 6:11:00 PM  
Blogger Lindsay Beyerstein said...

But Bush did have to show that he wasn't a libertarian! The average Republican isn't ready for libertarianism. They may not realize they're afraid libertarianism by that name, but they're against the entire libertarian social agenda and most libertarian economics. Bush had to show that he was pro-Empire, pro-God, anti-abortion, and anti-gay marriage.

Thursday, September 02, 2004 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger Lindsay Beyerstein said...

I just want to state for the record that David Brooks is a facile mean-spirited panderer. I'm flabbergasted by almost everything he says. But I don't understand why you think he was expressing bias against libertarians. I give David Brooks at juust enough credit to suppose that he understands what libertarianism is and why some people might mistakenly assume that Bush has libertarian sympathies.

I know there's no evidence that Bush has libertarian leanings. Likewise, there's no good reason to think that Kerry has any truck with Marxism. It's just that voters sometimes get funny ideas.

Bush's acceptance speech had to appeal to swing voters and nod to the base, in that order. To appeal to swing voters, Bush had to reassure them that he's not going to drown the government in the bathtub. He also had to reassure the base that he shares their anti-libertarian biases against equal marriage and abortion.

Friday, September 03, 2004 6:53:00 PM  

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