Friday, January 23, 2009

The "postpartisan" Obama Years: Will Conservative Radio still be on offense and Liberal talk on defense?

One of Barack Obama's winning campaign messages was that he offered a break from the partisanship of the Bush/Clinton era. What he contemptuously referred to as "refighting the same fights we had in the 1990's". During Bill Clinton's reign, the opposition noise machine was dubbed the "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy". During Bush' 8 years, the opposition was diagnosed as having "Bush Derangement Syndrome".

Barack Obama has always projected the image of pragmatism and post-partisanship. Seen as a generational shift away from the tired battles of the past. He has aimed to solidify these credentials through his cabinet picks welcoming former rivals and those across the aisle.

Whilst this might be the conciliatory tone Obama hopes to set for Washington, the same may not extend to opinion media. As the power shifts from complete Republican control in 2000 to Democratic domination in 2008. Human nature would dictate that the inverse would also take place in Talk radio and partisan media, the apologists and gloaters shifting to become the naysayers and vice versa.

Whether it's human nature or not, it's now the business formula. The pundit equivalent of a change in possession in a football game.

Matt Taibbi identified this tit-for-tat media phenomenon when the political tide shifted when Republicans lost their majorities in the midterms of 06'.
Hate The Player, Not The Game
Some of the commentators took the tack, saying that what happened to Fox was a repudiation of their formula for securing an audience, that people were somehow tired of hate media, tired of that kind of invective.

Whereas, you know, I think actually the opposite is true. I mean, some of the people that they lost market share to were of the same kind of shouting and hating style, people like Glenn Beck from CNN Headline News – either that, or they were simply the opposite political orientation.

You know, Fox sort of became famous and became a major media power by having a lot of shows like The O'Reilly Factor that focused heavily on demonizing a liberal enemy. And I think you started to have some shows from the opposite end of the spectrum, like Keith Olbermann's show on MSNBC, which, to some degree, did the same thing in reverse for liberal audiences.

Matt Taibbi is quick to qualify that he may not be the most ideal spokesperson
The problem for me personally is that I have absolutely no credibility in this area, because that's exactly what I do for a living. I mean, I'm sort of an ad hominem expert for Rolling Stone

The new President's hope in post-partisanship in Politics will be difficult if the media find it in their best interest to maintain division to attract audiences. After all everyone loves a good fight.

- Read and Listen to Matt Taibbi's interview on tit-for-tat punditry - Hate The Player, Not The Game
- Read Matt Taibbi's article on this formula - THE LOW POST: Keep on Hatin'
- Read my previous posts discussing Taibbi's interview and article
- Go to Matt Taibbi's Wiki page
- Go to Matt Taibbi's official blog

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