"Media Matters, But Not That Much"
Rick Perlstein, on a panel about the media, describes The Boys on the Bus as a book about politics on a level with Machiavelli’s Prince or John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government. Obviously, that’s deliberate hyperbole. But still, I think it reflects a common disagreement I have with the netrootsian perspective on things — a tendency on their part to vastly overstate the significance of media issues in terms of their impact on the real world.
People working in a medium should do things that the medium is well-suited to. And blogs are very well-suited to complaining about media coverage. So blogs spend a lot of time complaining about media coverage. Which is all, I think, perfectly fine. But the tendency to make the leap from “complaining about the media would be a good thing to do with my blog” to “objectively speaking, complaining about the media is hugely important to creating political change” is a mistake. If anything, I think it’s much more likely that the press tends to go easy on conservatives because conservatives have been politically successful than it is that the success is due to media coverage.