R. Stacy McCain, Rebecca Diserio: The Media’s Watercooler Consensus

Robert Stacy McCain (Photo hat tip: EBL)

Robert Stacy McCain — on The Rebecca Diserio Show

Wednesday, November 29, 2012, 11pm ET/8pm PT

[The interview is ~36 minutes long; the entire show runs 1 hour.]

RD = Rebecca Diserio

RSM = Robert Stacy McCain



[This is the second part of a two-part transcript. Find PART 1 here.]


RSM: You know, the problem is, is that people who are running the ship, the people put in charge of these key areas of communications, get out the vote, organizing, different things– are just not competent at the jobs they’re doing.

RD: Right, I so agree with that. That right there, shocking, not understanding the technology, not understanding the marketplace of the media today. You know, where, the internet and how to utilize that and all that. The left has got us beat ten-fold. I’m sorry to say it, but I’ve got to talk the truth. They’ve got us beat. We can learn something for how they developed their communications, their media, their marketing, their grassroots media and all that. Because you know, Stacy, they’re, talk about well-funded, their people are well-funded, their key people. And our grassroots, we’re just scraping by. Most of us do this for a pittance. I’m not saying that to try to have anyone feel sorry for us, but I’m trying to win the game here. I’m trying to get back in the game, so we can do something next time that isn’t the same old thing.

What do you think?

RSM: Well, I completely agree with what you’re saying, in that we have people– okay, just the difference between their side and our side.

RD: Right.

RSM: We have people whose expertise — supposedly– is media, right? And these people are called media consultants. Meanwhile on the left, they have people who are experts on the media who are called network news anchors. [laughs] People who are called Pulitzer prize-winning journalists. People whose job titles include: Editor-in-Chief of The Washington Post.

The problem is that this disconnect between the conservative movement and the Republican party and mainstream journalism– how much of this can we blame on liberals, and how much of it is the fault of the Republican party itself?

RD: I’d have to say, it’s mostly the fault of the Republican party. It would be nice to blame the liberals, but I can’t take that way out. I honestly, I’m trying to be truthful, to identify problems. And with all the money Romney and the Republicans had this time around, it was astonishing to me that it was not utilized better. And I know I’m “Monday morning quarterbacking” here, and who am I to say? I’ve been involved in one major campaign– with Star Parker when she ran out here– so I know a little bit about how that stuff works. Not to the extent that I’m a professional media person like those people were. But I can’t– it was just astonishing to me. I mean, the funds were there and yet, there was a disconnect. And yes, yes, you’ve got that mainstream media: they’re supposedly reporting the news, and they’re providing commentary.

RSM: The thing is that you have to… Okay, suppose for example, suppose for an example that you’re a hospital. I’ll just take some institution like that. You’re a hospital and you have a public relations department. A key part of their job is to develop relations with the media. In other words, they’ve got to be on a first-name basis with the reporters that are covering the hospital for the local newspaper and tv stations and radio stations. So that when it comes time, when it comes up to a situation that the hospital has some new announcement to make about its– their expanding their emergency room, or something like that– they know who to call.

In too many cases, I think, the idea of a Republican press operation is to make sure that nobody in the press corps ever gets close to the candidate. [laughs] It’s to drive a wedge between– this idea of treating the press as the enemy, it becomes self-fulfilling prophesy.

And you know people have talked about outreach. “We need to outreach to the Hispanic community, we need to outreach to the black community.” Well, how about this? We need to outreach to the MSM community. Because there are probably a few– God bless them, most of them are to the left of Lenin in their politics– but there are a few of them, there still are a few people in there who care about real facts, who care about budget projections that involve actual numbers, people who actually care about economic reality. People who know– and many of them in the media do know– that Obama’s recklessness in Libya is the key cause… If you want to know why Ambassador Christopher Stevens died, I can explain it to you in two words: Arab Spring.

RD: Right, right, absolutely. I want to ask you a question: when you were describing the GOP policy with the media, is that how it is on the other side? I know that they’re in cahoots– I know that there’s this relationship with the ones that are really, really to the left of Lenin– but for the other ones, do they handle it differently?

RSM: Well, that’s a good point, Rebecca. A lot of what you’re dealing with is herd mentality: the desire to fit in, and the sort of, what people call “selection effect”. It becomes a sort of self-fulfilling prophesy. The liberalism of the media is not a conspiracy; it’s a consensus. There have been studies that show that as much as eight out of ten national journalists– Washington-based political correspondants– as many as 80 percent of them reliably vote Democrat. Forget about liberal ideology, or progressive beliefs, or anything like that. When it comes down to plain partisanship, your average newsroom is as liberal as San Francisco. [laughs]

RD: [laughs] Right, right.

RSM: Okay, so what happens is that there’s this sort of “watercooler consensus”. I’ve said that just the jokes that people make– so far as they talk about politics in the newsroom– the jokes that they make among their friends… These are just their everyday beliefs, and there’s no one there to question them or refute them or dispute them. So I’ve said this before: most journalist never notice liberal bias, for the same reason that most fish never notice water.

RD: Right. Yeah, I have a friend who is big in Catholic media now but he was a main journalist with CBS for many years, like twenty years. And why he left was because of just what you’re describing– and it affected him. He even was affected by it, and he had to step back and he had to leave. Because he said– it was back in ’92 or something– where some abortion ruling came down, and it was pro-abort. And the newsroom erupted in applause and cheers. At that point, it was a kind of wake up call for him. It’s okay that everyone has a right to their beliefs, it was the whole newsroom.

You know what I mean, Stacy?

RSM: Oh, yeah. What he’s talking about is a phenomenon, it’s an observable phenomenon. The problem is, there are so few people inside newsrooms to observe it and report it.

I guess I should explain something that is often asked of me. I tell people, “I’m a journalist,” and they– when you say that to a Republican, they look at you as if you’ve just told them, as if you were a–

RD: A leper–

RSM: A leper. [laughs] And then after I talk to them a while, they say, “Well, why aren’t you a liberal?” And I explain to them: Look, I’m somebody who got into journalism not because I wanted to make a difference, as they say. I got into it because I wanted to make a living. It was a job that I did, okay? I was a reporter, a sports editor, a special sections editor. I covered education, and all different kinds of subjects over the years, covered tornadoes, blizzards and this-that-and-the-other. It was not until I’d been in the business for nearly ten years that the course of events sort of changed my worldview. And I began studying a lot of history and political philosophy I’d never bothered to read before. Between 1992 and 1996, I underwent a worldview revolution. That’s the best way to describe it. So suddenly I found myself arguing with friends that I’d never argued with before in the newsroom, and found myself agreeing with people I never believed I agreed with.

RD: Right, right. That’s kind of what he described. So at that point, you saw the big picture then, of what the overall media landscape was like. That is such a huge problem, to say, well, how do we fix that? I don’t think you can just sit down over a cup of coffee, and have an answer to that. But that is something that needs to be talked about, I think.

RSM: Well, part of the problem, Rebecca, part of the problem is that most of the people telling you– who, one way or the other spout ideas about how to deal with liberal bias in the media– they’ve never been liberals, and they’ve never been in the media.

RD: Right.

RSM: Whereas, on the other hand, you have people like David Horowitz, you have people like Bernard Goldberg, you had people like Andrew Breitbart, who had been on the other side and seen it from the other side. The first thing you’ve got to understand is: however we’ve been going about, as the conservative movement and the Republican party, however they’ve been going out, trying to fight liberal bias, it’s not working. And they need to find some new approach to it.

RD: Well, you know Breitbart said, you know, you brought him up, politics is downstream from the culture. You had mentioned the culture earlier, and that’s something that I really believe needs to be addressed. More right-wing cultural stuff, you know, Hollywood. How do you change that?

But yet, there’s these big issues that I think some of us are starting to identify. I guess that’s the first step, before you can change something, but it’s not something that’s going to be changed in a day or even a year, I don’t think, Stacy.

RSM: Well, that’s just right. And you mentioned Hollywood… Breitbart was continually frustrated at his difficulty in trying to get the Republican establishment– as you might call it in Washington– or even the conservative establishment, to what he was trying to do out in Hollywood.

You know, there’s an organization called the Friends of Abe, which is a sort of informal club of conservatives in Hollywood. And Breitbart was very active in supporting that: trying to find out who our friends are in the Hollywood, in the entertainment industry, supporting our friends. See, supporting our friends is so much more a positive thing to do than to constantly be attacking our enemies. We know who our enemies are. When Michael Moore says something idiotic, great, we’ll report that Michael Moore said something idiotic and explain why it’s idiotic. But in the meantime, we need to try to build on what little toe-hold we have on popular culture.

RD: Yeah, I like what you said there about doing something more positive. All of us– and you know I’m guilty of it, too– it’s been so easy over the last four years to dredge up, day after day after day, crazy, leftist remarks, commenting on them and bringing them to light. That’s just hasn’t seemed to work, it hasn’t. I’m talking to the choir, I’m speaking to the choir. How do I get to not just be talking to the choir, you know?

I didn’t know about Friends of Abe. I’m going to look that up. I believe that supporting, when those people in Hollywood, there are a few that have come out as conservatives, they’re blacklisted. They can’t get work or they’re passed over. Their career is done. But if the conservative movement started to support these people, they wouldn’t be, because they couldn’t be. We’re the people.

RSM: You know, it’s interesting that many people– for instance, John Voight– John Voight was always indentified, Angelina Jolie’s father, for crying out loud, he was always identified as part of liberal Hollywood until he got a little older and started speaking out more. And then suddenly, he was treated as toxic, and people made fun of the things he said. So suddenly, someone who had been their friend forever, he wasn’t their friend anymore. And you see that over and over and over again.

For instance, you know, what was interesting to me was that Lindsay Lohan came out a couple of weeks before the election and just happened to say that she was thinking about voting for Romney–

RD: Right.

RSM: And a lot of people were making fun of that. If you read what she said about it, well, it made perfect sense. And so suddenly, it’s like, “Hey, wait a minute, maybe Lindsay Lohan is somebody we should talk to.”

RD: Exactly, somebody who kind of figured it out, whatever it is: her pocketbook or whatever. It doesn’t matter. She made the statement, come out and was brave enough, or maybe she didn’t even know she was going to out herself. But she did. And I agree, instead of making fun of her, like people do, let’s talk to her. That’s somebody that’s in the media that’s quite a name recognition. Those are the people that we need to be talking to, I totally agree.

I’m sorry, Stacy, I’ve kept you over too long so I’ll let you go. But I really appreciate you coming on and talking to us about these important issues. I hope to be able to have you back in the future.

RSM: Well, I really appreciate you having me on, Rebecca. And remember, in getting back to this Saxby Chambliss thing that we started out talking about, remember if you’re on Twitter, it’s the hashtag #Taxby, t-a-x-b-y. We’re going to teach him a little lesson, that apparently the example of Charlie Crist wasn’t enough for him, the example of Bob Bennett, the example of Arlen Specter. Saxby Chambliss is going to learn a lesson, and it begins with the hashtag #Taxby.

RD: #Taxby, yes, and of course everybody knows your website is TheOtherMcCain.com, where you can read– you’re a prolific writer and very entertaining. Thank you so much, Stacy. We’ll talk to you soon. Have a good evening.

RSM: Yes, ma’am.

RD: Goodbye.

RSM: Bye.

EDIT.1: Also read, at The Other McCain: Further Proof That Chicks Dig Mitt

EDIT.2: Thanks for the humbling mention and your link love, The Other McCain. And welcome, TOM readers!

– Becca Lower


R. Stacy McCain, Rebecca Diserio: The Media’s Watercooler Consensus — 4 Comments

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