Is the Media in the Teeter Before the Tipping?:
Let us posit a theory of media tipping points for a moment or two here. President Bush's approval ratings have sunk to lows that make the post-9/11 Dubya lovefest seem as distant as, well, Bush, Sr.'s post-Persian Gulf lovefest. And when you get to specific issues, like Iraq or just about anything, or the direction of the country, the big mo on George W. is down, down, down. Consistently. In every scientific poll.
So let's say you're a scotch-swillin' exec at a big ass corporate media entity, say a TimeWarnerCNN-type. You have to say, "Sweet merciful fuck, I'm a ratings whore. I gotta jack up that 25-49 demo like it's Bob Dole's dick. How am I gonna shove some Viagra down this throat?" Now, there's decisions to be made. Big fuckin' decisions. 'Cause every instinct that has guided you for four years now has been to wave that fuckin' flag, man, to repeat the government line like it's gospel. So your decision is this: do you keep doin' that shit, thinkin' that the only people sittin' on their asses and watchin' Wolf Blitzer and Lou Dobbs are the Bush-lovin' 40 percent (and sinkin' fast)? Or do you look at polls, since numbers are your game, motherfucker, and say, "Shit, we better ride this trend"?
Because, see, the bottom line is the bottom line, right? And as much as you wanna keep the peace with Karl Rove and manipulate people into thinkin' Bush is a great man, a great President, and the best fuck you never had, at some point the democracy of audience share and ad dollars is gonna override your obeisance to your Republican masters. If your shareholders start to get unhappy, it ain't Rove's or Karen Hughes' ass on the line. Well, not directly. So maybe you need to start programming things with a tilt towards what the vast majority of Americans believe, about the war, about Social Security, about the Congress, about Bush himself. (If 51% of the vote is a "mandate," then 60% of a poll is a "vast majority" - it's new millenium comparative mathematics.)
Sure, sure, you're saying about now, but Bill Clinton had high approval ratings and was still viciously attacked by the mainstream media. Ahh, but the Clinton saga had sex in it, and who doesn't like to hear Peter Jennings talk about finger fucking an intern in the Oval Orifice?
The Rude Pundit voraciously watches and reads news with all the energy of Ken Mehlman avoiding questions about his sexuality. And between the "debate" over Gitmo, the Downing Street memo(s), the Terry Schivao autopsy, the war, and more, there has been a bunch of coverage of news that paints the administration and the Republicans into the corner of wacko extremism. Sure, sure, Chris Matthews can smack those thin lips around Condoleezza Rice's kootchie all night long. And Bill O'Reilly can try to slam a phantom Dick Durbin around his empty studio.
And they will. This is not an overnight process. It's the possible beginning of a corrective drift. When Time magazine has a cover story on abuse at Gitmo and the Washington Post runs a front page story on the Bush adminstration's belief that happy, "liberated" Iraqis would throw themselves prone onto the ground so that triumphant Americans could fuck them any way we wanted, well, it might not be a trend, but it's certainly got the potential to be a sign of things to come. Time's gotta sell issues. If Gitmo abuse sells, then Donald Rumsfeld better be preparing the escape pod for launch.
This is a theory, you know - maybe even just an hypothesis that needs a great deal more observable data. Capitalism is a hungry bastard - you better obey its whims or it'll eat you alive. There's a convergence of things occurring: the aforementioned approval ratings that are going down faster than Republican porn star Mary Carey in Lesbian Big Boob Bangeroo 2; the emergence and greater reliance of people on blogs and news sites for their information (remember: during the Clinton era, the scum-sucking Drudge was driving the discourse and coverage - now Kos and others help push back); Republicans beginning to treat Bush like a lame duck (translation: bitch) and opposing some of his ever-insane plans and policies; and the frail image of W. Mark Felt emerging from his house, having been revealed to be Deep Throat, a reminder that journalists used to be more than stenographers for the powerful.
Since George Bush fucked the goat (see note below) on WMDs and Iraq (and the economy and on and on), he's trusted about as much as a meth addict at a Sudafed factory. And some reporters are showing signs of discontent with Press Secretary Scott "I Hold All Of You In Sincere And Everlasting Contempt" McClellan, trying to force that smug fucker to answer or at least back up his answers to their questions. Do you think that reporters, beaten down for so long that they put their tails between their ass cheeks whenever the Pavlovian voice of Donald Rumsfeld barks at them, decided on their own to be more aggressive at the press briefings? Or did that come from their editors or producers? And do you really think that the editors or producers are so independent now that they would decide on their own to make gestures to going on the attack?
You're that multinational, multinetworked corporate exec, and you know that, in the end, you better give the people what they want. And, more and more, it's seeming like the people want the heads of Republicans presented to them on platters. Now there's a job a real news organization ought to be licking its lips to dive into.
Note on fucking goats for those new to the rudeness: There's an old joke: A man is sitting in a bar, drinking, talking to the bartender. He says, "A man can work his whole life building bridges. Do they call him John the bridge builder? No. He can work his whole life putting out fires. Do they call him John the fireman? No. But you fuck one goat..."
Ask Bill Clinton, Pee-Wee Herman, and Michael Jackson: Once you've fucked the goat, there's no way to unfuck it.