Political Animal


July 30, 2012 4:21 PM McConnell Celebrates Weaponization of Media

By Ed Kilgore

I have to admit that despite his supposed old-school mien and senatorial gravitas, Mitt McConnell gives me the creeps a lot more than the average Tea Person (say, his Kentucky colleague Rand Paul). Perhaps he isn’t a crazy person, and perhaps his apparent devotion to such familiar values as the amoral exercise of political power and the faithful representation of the prerogatives of the very rich is less threatening to the Republic than the demons that haunt Randian libertarians and evangelical theocrats.

But I dunno: I read through a John Stanton piece for Buzzfeed based on an interview with McConnell on the subject of old and new media and came away chilled by his cheerful approbation of the latter on the sole grounds that they make his brand of vicious partisanship more effective.

“To the extent that there isn’t media domination like there was in the days NBC, ABC, CBS the New York Times, the Washington Post, particularly since most people on my side of the aisle feel they had a pretty obvious bias … those days are over,” he said. “I kind of like this new environment. I think its much more competitive, much more balanced.”
“From a conservative point of view we have a better chance of competing in the marketplace of ideas,” he said.

You get the feeling that if he happened to be a Democrat or if the “old media” were biased in the “wrong” direction, he’d have diametrically opposed views. In any event, his perspective is not clouded by any concerns about, you know, objective truth, facts, or the public’s right to know. The same is true of his attitude towards new-media tools for politicians. It’s not about communicating better with constituents or better informing the electorate, but simply a matter of the superior ability (if you’ve got the money) to get to voters first with the greatest throw-weight of propaganda.

None of this is terribly surprising coming from a leader whose signature conviction is that the post-Citizens United environment is a free-speech paradise. But still, you’d think even McConnell would be capable of deep enough thought to grasp that media are not simply weapons for sale in a vast arms market where non-violent solutions are never on the table.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Ron Byers on July 30, 2012 4:32 PM:

    These comments make clear what has been apparent for a long time. McConnell is a tactician. He is not a deep thinker. If he were he would worry about the difficulty his ideas will have when a significant portion of the media really does have a liberal bias. That might happen in today's wild west anything goes media environment. It was impossible in the bad old days when every thing was filtered by the Gray Lady or CBS News and bad ideas routinely met a silent death.

  • MelanieN on July 30, 2012 4:37 PM:

    "Mitt" McConnell? Interesting typo.

  • Anonymous on July 30, 2012 4:51 PM:

    I live in Ky and he's my Senator - Mitch hasn't stayed in his position because he is concerned about truth, justice and the American way .... he's a careful, calculating, machiavellian power whore. Ignore him at your peril.

  • c u n d gulag on July 30, 2012 4:58 PM:

    "... you’d think even McConnell would be capable of deep enough thought to grasp that media are not simply weapons for sale in a vast arms market where non-violent solutions are never on the table."

    Of course they're for sale!
    And they pay no price for being wrong.

    I’d venture to say that 99.9% of the Conservative punTWITS in this country, and about 75% of their “centrist” brothers and sisters, have been wrong on everything for the past 30+ years.

    And yet, there IS NO ACCOUNTABILITY in the MSM!

    To fire them all from TV, Op-ed pages, radio, and magazines would elicit a chorus of “Liberal Bias!” – with the usual wailing, gnashing of teeth, and tearing at the hair and clothing, at the unfairness of it all!

    And we can’t have that now can we?

    After all, Paul Krugman was for NAFTA, and may have been wrong on something else, too!

    So why should these people, who everyone knows and likes, because they all go to the same cocktail parties, and their kids play soccer together, have to suffer, and lose their 6 or 7 or 8 figure a year jobs?
    Think of their children!

    And besides, the peasants have their little blogs to bitch about things.

    As far as the news coverage, and pundit opinions - ‘LET THEM EAT FAKE!'

  • TCinLA on July 30, 2012 8:08 PM:

    Why in the world would you think any Republican would be capable of "deep thought"? The evidence is clear that the lack of such physical equipment as frontal lobes for the brain is a prerequisite for membership in the party.