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Which media are the so-called mainstream media?

One thing I’ve never understood about conservative complaints concerning the “mainstream media” (or “lamestream media,” as some of them say) is the peculiar selectiveness with which this term is applied.

Why are the big right-wing media not considered mainstream?

Fox News Channel is by far the most-watched of the cable news outlets, and yet its conservative commentators are forever whining about the mainstream media. Why isn’t FNC considered a part of the mainstream itself?

The Wall Street Journal, which has a decidedly conservative editorial policy, is the biggest-selling daily paper in the land. Why isn’t it considered mainstream?

Talk radio, which is dominated by the wingnut likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, reaches tens of millions of listeners. Why isn’t it considered mainstream?

I have a theory regarding this hypocrisy:

One of the distinguishing characteristics of the conservative movement is its persecution complex, its culture of victimization. Many of these folks are convinced that the “liberal elites” are out to sap of them of their precious bodily fluids.

If anyone objects, on First Amendment grounds, to the recitation of prayer in public school classrooms, the right-wingers see it as the persecution of Christians.

If a reporter poses even a reasonable question for which the likes of Sarah Palin has no intelligent answer (“What newspapers do you read?”), it is said that poor Sarah is the victim of “gotcha questions” from the “lamestream media.”

If someone wishes someone else “happy holidays,” it’s seen as a salvo in the unholy “War on Christmas.”

What a bunch of self-pitying crybabies!

FOOTNOTE: Speaking of the media, don’t me get started on the use of “media” as a singular.

It’s a Latin word, and it’s plural.

Using “media” as a singular (“the media is….”) only invites the notion that the media are a monolith. They’re not. There are all kinds of media, many of which differ from one another in numerous respects.

And yet, even journalists whom I otherwise respect are often heard to use “media” as a singular. Their bosses should order them to be more careful about that.

 

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