Monday, November 14, 2005

Since every blogger and his brother has commented on the Target issue, I saw no reason to jump in. Even though I have a slightly different personal interest (more on that later), I was going to stay out of it until I came acros this from Media Matters:

Last week, the Los Angeles Times fired liberal columnist Robert Scheer, a 32-year veteran of the paper. The Times article announcing the firing offered no hint of explanation, though Scheer himself suggested it was the result of pressure from conservatives: "I've been a punching bag for Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh for years and I think the paper finally collapsed."

Scheer has, in fact, been the target of relentless criticism from conservative commentators, led by Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and right-wing activist David Horowitz.


Given both the history of conservative attacks on Scheer, and the Los Angeles Times' failure to explain his firing, it seems plausible that the Times bowed to right-wing pressure in firing Scheer.

Contact the Los Angeles Times' reader representative and editorial page editor Andrés Martinez to register your protest of the newspaper's decision to purge a Bush administration critic in the face of right-wing pressure.

Then I read the comments (about Target) on some liberal web sites and was astounded by the contrast. Conservatives get Robert Scheer fired, The Catholic League even decides that getting some guy fired from Wal-Mart is the Christian thing to do, but liberals wring their hands over whether they should boycott Target or just write letters. Is it any wonder that one side is feared and the other neither loved nor feared?

Actually I have some sympathy for the fact that Target's in a difficult position. I can even see giving a letter writing campaign a chance, but you better be willing to back it with a boycott. If liberals are less willing to exert pressure than conservatives, they might as well just give up.

I did notice that some of the commenters on other sites brought up rape victims. Though that's a strong argument for keeping Plan B legal, I suspect it would have more bearing on its availability at E.R.'s and rape crisis centers than retail outlets. However, there are prescription medicines that carry a greatly increased risk for birth defects and miscarriages for both women patients and female partners of male patients. Since I'm such a patient, it's an easy choice for me. I would assume that there are at least a few million other patients on similar medications. If liberal groups are going to pressure Target, that would be a good apolitical group to bring in. It would also give give Target a good rationale for re-evaluating its policy.

Ultimately, though pressuring retail outlets is less important than pressuring media outlets. I mean mainstream media outlets, not Fox. For years before his resignation, conservatives had marginalized not just Dan Rather but the entire CBS news operation. That certainly had a chilling effect throughout the MSM. I'm sure most liberals would rather have an honest media that feared neither liberals or conservatives, but since that's not going to happen, there must be some mainstream outfit that deserves to be marginalized. Let's see after one the presidential debates last year, I seem to recall a commentator on a major network calling Kerry a shameless panderer for daring to disagree with Alan Greenspan (on Social Security no less) without revealing that Greenspan was her husband. Didn't the same network let Frank Luntz conduct its focus groups for years before revealing that he was a Republican consultant? Don't they also have a famously tough Sunday morning interviewer, who does ask both Republican and Democrats tough questions, but who is demonstrably more inclined to ask Democrats follow up questions (actually unless the Republican involved is George Bush,being asked the tough question without a follow up should be a favor)? Isn't it time liberals do to NBC what conservatives did to CBS?

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