Thursday, July 12, 2007

Congratulations: You're not the fringe, and you probably haven't been for quite a while

Back in the days of the Clinton impeachment, a recurring theme of coverage and metacoverage was the so-called "disconnect:" People outside of the Washington elite simply weren't as upset as the elite felt they should be about Bill Clinton's intern-diddling, or his subsequent tawdry lies to forestall its revelation, or any of the thousand little "-gates" ginned up around him and Hillary.

"Where," grumbled Bob Dole as Clinton romped over him to re-election in 1996, "is the outrage?"

A decade later, that disconnect is still there--except it's even greater. There might be some area of connect between the opinions of movement conservatives and the Beltway elite, on one hand, and the rest of America on the other, but Glenn Greenwald at hasn't found it yet.

What Greenwald has found are the numbers that document just how far the big-dog pundits, regular Sunday talk show faces, and frequently quoted sources are from the American consensus (registration or ad-viewing required).

Put it this way: If you opposed the Iraq invasion, if you think Team Bush have bungled both the war and its aftermath, if you think that the best thing to do regarding Iraq is get our people the hell out of it, if you think it's high time that Congress began exercising oversight of this administration, if you think that Bush commuting Scooter's sentence stinks to high heaven--then you, my friend, are not in the fringe.

You may feel you are, especially if you've picked up a newspaper or turned on the TV in the last several years, but you're not.

The conservative/Beltway opinion machine is on the fringe.

And it's really not even a close call, either. Greenwald summarizes:
On every key political issue of the past several months, the defining view of the "conservative" movement and the conventional wisdom of the establishment press is one that is shared by a small minority of Americans -- in each case within the range of 19-36%, but typically hovering around 25-30%, representing the same small band of hard-core Bush followers and True Believers who provide the President with his 25-30% floor for approval ratings. Conversely, these defining right-wing views are overwhelmingly rejected by Americans in virtually every area.

And yet these are the views that receive far more representation than any other in our mainstream press and are treated as though they are the serious, centrist views. The disconnect between the political discussion conducted by our media and popular American public opinion is hard to overstate.

On the most critical political issues we face -- and especially on the issue of whether our most powerful political leaders ought to be investigated and held accountable for what they have done, typically in secret -- the beliefs that are repeatedly held up as the "centrist" positions are, in fact, radical and fringe. And what are depicted as the radical and fringe views are held by large pluralities, usually large majorities, of Americans.

(Emphasis added.) There you have it. On the key issues facing America, the pundit class is out past where the buses run, polling at about the same level as Bush's all but vanishing base.

Where do you get your news? From the radical fringe press? It's a fair amount of work to find anything else, even when it represents a plurality or majority of Americans.

Where's the outrage now?

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