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Right-Wing Bullies Caught in Crossfire
April 14, 2002 10:15 AM   Subscribe

Right-Wing Bullies Caught in Crossfire "No doubt all of the above qualities irritate the conservatives who follow party instructions to shun Crossfire. What has shocked them is that the new hosts don’t quite fit TV’s stereotypical 97-pound liberal, ready to be worked over like a talking speedbag. Mr. Carville is a tall, rangy Marine veteran, sports fanatic and jock; Mr. Begala is a born-and-bred Texan who grew up with guns and still likes to hunt. Both have expressed their powerful distaste for the Democratic tendency to wilt under attack."
posted by owillis (46 comments total)

 
I find a lot o' truth in there. Thanks for linking it, it was a good article. I like the new crossfire lineup and I don't think that they attack so much as many of the other shows so much as they are very informed, which ought to be the rule on these shows but sadly seems to be the exception.
posted by n9 at 10:26 AM on April 14, 2002


If there is anything that modern conservatives hate more than fair taxation, it’s a fair fight.

I love that line.
posted by tcobretti at 10:31 AM on April 14, 2002


Nice link. I wonder if this topic will come up on crossfire.
posted by keithl at 10:33 AM on April 14, 2002


James Carville has the charisma to match that of Clinton's.
posted by Mach3avelli at 11:38 AM on April 14, 2002


James Carville has got to be one of the most obnoxious people in the world. He just makes my skin crawl. Chrisma my ass.

Hrm, what was I going to say.... Oh yeh, did anyone see that SNL "hardball" skit last night, hilarious.
posted by delmoi at 11:45 AM on April 14, 2002


*laugh* Just from the headline, I knew this was going to be a Joe Conason hit piece. Quelle surprise.

I love all the little annoying bits of reality he leaves out, such as the fact that Carville and Begala do not represent "the left" or "liberalism" as Novak and Carlson do "the right" or "conservatism"; instead C & B represent Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party first and formost. It's not left vs right any more, it's apples vs oranges. Or how he brings up Pat Buchanan as if he's been a regular Crossfire host anytime recently while barely mentioning Tucker Carlson since he's the polar opposite of the "bully right-winger" straw man Conason created for his article, and tosses in irrelevancies like Rush Limbaugh (is he hosting Crossfire? No. Why not mention Johnny Carson too?) in a sad attempt at spin. And gee, why no mention of that impartial audience filled mostly with GWU college students? (Though CNN, amusingly, tries its damndest to shove as many gray-haired, wrinkly people together in the front row so they'll always have at least one shot to "prove" the audience is bipartisan.)
posted by aaron at 11:46 AM on April 14, 2002


I'd love to think that the hiring of Carville and Begala means that CNN is going to put some liberal talking heads front and center to attract liberal viewers (the opposite strategy of Fox News). Though conservatives describe the network as liberal, I've always felt that CNN has been solidly in the mushy middle.

Give me some real liberals, as opposed to moderates who only look liberal in comparison to the typical talking head, and I might start watching CNN.
posted by rcade at 11:50 AM on April 14, 2002


This peice hardly got me all misty, as though real populistic progress is being made in the media. But it is at least an improvement that CNN would entertain the idea of keeping a staff that is, in a small token gesture, blowhardingly 'liberal'. Though true, Carville grates on my nerves, I probably will be no more inclined to watch Crossfire. Jim Hightower comes to mind as someone more along the skein of obstreperous liberal punditry that I like. All in all though, I think it is less about de facto debate, complete with thesis and premise, than it is about setting a more fertile climate where the overbearing, stifling mood of a corporate/conservative media can be defrayed. In order to do so and for CNN to turn a profit, they need the loudest, rambunctious and familiar there are.
posted by crasspastor at 1:11 PM on April 14, 2002


I agree with crasspastor about Jim Hightower -- he's smart, tenacious, contentious but in no way obnoxious or "pundantic" (if I may..) -- but more than anything he's just damn funny and provocative as hell, whether or not you sympathize with his middle-America populist views. he would be perfect on one of these shows, but fat chance he'll ever break through the corporate-media glass ceiling of ham radio or wherever it is he's now relegated.

the radio talkshows are now calling CNN the "Crescent News Network" (presumably because they have more foreign news correspondents than a blow-dried failed daytime talkshow host and a few made-up airheads) -- what an absolute joke, especially when Robert Novak is their voice of restraint in the Middle East.
posted by ssdecontrol at 2:02 PM on April 14, 2002


or william f. buckley! (v christopher hitchens :)
posted by kliuless at 2:14 PM on April 14, 2002


While I think the audience selection favors the Democrats in an unfair manner, its refreshing to see Carville/Begala instead of wimpy tv liberals like Bill Press or even worse, Alan Colmes (on Fox, surprise!). I can at least appreciate Bob Novak but Tucker Carlson comes off as such an elitist twit I'd expect to see him on the uber-left.
posted by owillis at 4:27 PM on April 14, 2002


Field Guide to TV's Lukewarm Liberals -- link is four years old but still, sadly, relevant.

To wit, a Crossfire gem of old:
When Jerry Brown wasn't allowed on Crossfire because he insisted on giving out his 800 number for fundraising, Kinsley remarked (12/6/91): "Isn't Jerry Brown making a complete joke of himself, carrying on like this?" Four years later, when co-host Pat Buchanan announced his bid for the presidency on Crossfire, Kinsley helped him hold up a sign giving Buchanan's own 800 number (2/16/95).
posted by ssdecontrol at 5:25 PM on April 14, 2002


CNN's ratings continue to fall while Fox's soar. All the talk and all the hype cannot change that reality. The Left is on it's last legs. They've had it.
posted by mikegre at 6:10 PM on April 14, 2002


I read "*laugh* Just from the headline, I knew this was going to be a Joe Conason hit piece. Quelle surprise." and knew it was you, aaron. Surprise, surprise.

Interesting point, mikegre. I was just going to add that the left is finally regaining its strength and regrouping. Gore gave a strong speech the other day, and looks like he has a good deal of fight left in him. Bush, even with skyhigh approval ratings, can't seem to catch a break on domestic issues. One of the frustrating things about being a leftie is that war isn't our strong suit, but the war on terrorism isn't the looming issue it was on September 12th.

Wasn't the left "on its last legs" when Clinton kicked off the roaring 90s? Until you can get me and the other 50% of people that voted for Gore singing the praises of the right, I think you'll be disappointed in the coming years.
posted by jragon at 6:55 PM on April 14, 2002


jragon: are you suggesting that welfare reform and the other conservative ideas Clinton co-opted are victories for the left?

The way liberals hold Clinton up as a poster boy is a joke -- what did he ever really ever do for your causes except taint them with his sleaze? Whenever he got in tight spot, he dropped his liberal talk like a hot potato.
posted by nobody_knose at 11:00 PM on April 14, 2002


The Left is on it's last legs. They've had it.

Uh huh...and secularism is simply a fad. Get your head out of the clouds and wake up to the direction of industrialized nations. It certainly isn't going right.

The way liberals hold Clinton up as a poster boy is a joke

Although I don't believe Clinton was an excellent president when speaking of policies and agenda, his presence boosted the Democratic vote to an unimaginable degree. The fact that he's referred to as the first black president is no joke. The fact that 95% of blacks vote Democrat was helped by Clinton's presence. While I don't consider him a great president, the American people loved him, LOVED him. He strengthened the Democratic party and allowed Republicans to divide themselves through the impeachment trial. It's time for the Republican party to open its eyes and distance itself from the religious right. The Democrats have already proven that their perception is no longer, "Commie!" Republicans should follow suit and rid themselves of the title, "Christian!"
posted by BlueTrain at 11:26 PM on April 14, 2002


and the last part of my previous comment was completely off-topic. Whoops.
posted by BlueTrain at 11:32 PM on April 14, 2002


It amazes me that you all throw Clinton, Gore, etc. in as "liberals" or "on the left". Simply amazes me. Brief shots at Clinton's "liberal" policies...
refused to sign the int'l land mine ban treaty (already signed by 137 nations)
signed orders prohibiting any form of health care to poor people illegally in the US
expanded the number of federal crimes for which the death penalty can be given to a total of 60
was the first pres since Nixon to not force the auto makers to improve their mileage per gallon (so yes, even reagan and bush I did it).

Liberal like the sky is the color of my puke.
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:43 PM on April 14, 2002


Bill Clinton:

Ralph Naderesque "Green" Liberal? No

Center-Left Politician Able To Actually Make Some Liberal Ideals Palatable To The American People (as opposed to yelling "raise taxes")? Hell Yeah.
posted by owillis at 11:53 PM on April 14, 2002


CNN's ratings continue to fall while Fox's soar. All the talk and all the hype cannot change that reality. The Left is on it's last legs. They've had it.

Your ignorance disgusts me. Much like a bumpersticker affixed to many SUVs pre-Columbine massacre in suburban Denver that read: Imagine No Liberals. You've affirmed your ignorance as to the dynamism of politics. It is impossible to rid the world of ideals. Right or left. To have one is to neccessarily have the other. You on the other hand, for invoking such nonsense causes the default invoking of Godwin's Law.
posted by crasspastor at 12:29 AM on April 15, 2002


ssdecontrol: that FAIR page is pitiful. The writer, Libby Casey, is culling out-of-context sound bites over a decade or more. If you've ever criticized a liberal, questioned a liberal policy, or even criticized Bill Clinton, you aren't a liberal. Huh?

Well, this sort of silliness is typical of FAIR.

And let me deconstruct the business about the 800 numbers for you (and for the clueless FAIR). Michael Kinsley is a liberal. Michael Kinsley wants the Democratic party to win elections. It was in his interest (and that of the Democrats) to suppress Jerry Brown's campaign, which could only cause division within the Democratic Party. And god forbid, Jerry might even win the nomination (that actually looked possible in 12/91, which is when the incident happened), which would mean a Republican presidential victory. Thus, he prevented Jerry from giving out his 800 number on the show.

On the other hand, it was in the Democrats' interest to splinter the Republican vote, and maybe even help Pat win the nomination, which would have meant an automatic Democratic victory, because Pat isn't any more electable than Jerry. Thus, he helped Pat show off his 800 number.

Michael Kinsley was acting as a mainstream liberal, supporting liberal political interests in both cases. Understand now?
posted by Slithy_Tove at 2:29 AM on April 15, 2002


Crossfire is taped in the building where I work, and I've met a couple of the hosts (one from the right, one from the left). They both seemed a) like really nice, clever fellows, and b) incredibly jazzed about shooting in front of a live audience of (mostly) college students. Going to a taping is lots of fun.
posted by GriffX at 6:45 AM on April 15, 2002


Bluetrain:
The roaring economy of the 90's had a lot more to do with Clinton WASN'T able to do that what he was able to do. And who would ever dispute that Democrats are popular with blacks and that Clinton made them even more popular? No one. The point is, Democrats really didn't need help there - going from 85% to 99% approval rating simply means Democrats can continue to offer gov't cheese and circuses instead of real solutions for the problems black communities face.

As for "Americans loving Clinton":
Sez who? What Clinton programs are Americans so in love with? What long-term impact did he have? I think you vastly overrate the good feelings America has for Clinton. What exists is much more closely linked to American's affection for good looking, charismatic bad boys than any real love for his agenda.
posted by nobody_knose at 8:33 AM on April 15, 2002


Democrats can continue to offer gov't cheese and circuses instead of real solutions for the problems black communities face.

Right right...Republicans only want the best for our black friends. Come on, even you have to admit neither team has an appropriate solution for the poverty and lack of education the black community faces. Truth is, the hispanic population seem to be taking the place of blacks in society, as the race that doesn't seem to have a chance. And eventually, they too will dig themselves out. But let's be clear. Neither Republicans or Democrats are helping the communities; Republicans are completely hands-off and Democrats are completely hand-outs.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:32 AM on April 15, 2002


bluetrain: I don't think you have to operate a race-based agenda to do well by black folks.

And I don't really think it's fair to paint all Republicans as taking such a Dickensian approach to the challenges facing the poor. Whether you agree with them or not, the faith-based initiatives definitely fall outside of the traditional thinking of both parties. Maybe they'll work, maybe they won't, but you can't really say Republicans aren't offering anything new.
posted by nobody_knose at 12:59 PM on April 15, 2002


Another example: School vouchers.
While Democrats and school bureaucrats scream about "separating church & state," another generation of poor kids (mostly black) graduate without being able to read.

The only solution ever offered is shoveling more money into incredibly dysfunctional public systems. Take NYC, for example - if the Board of Ed can't teach kids to read with a an anual budget of 11.5 billion dollars (that's B-I-L-L-I-O-N), there is no hope that even more money will solve the larger problems.
posted by nobody_knose at 1:28 PM on April 15, 2002


Are we still pigeonholing all politics into a liberal/conservative dichotomy? That is SO twentieth century.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:46 PM on April 15, 2002


the faith-based initiatives definitely fall outside of the traditional thinking of both parties.

No they don't...they're implementing the same ideas as non-religious govt. agencies. The only difference that I've seen is that they actually believe that if these folks become religious, perhaps they'll begin to work harder and gain stronger moral values.

Ironically, I agree that faith is the best solution for the poor, but because brainwashing them into becoming productive members of society has worked before.

Take NYC, for example

Privatizing education has not worked yet. Take the Edison schools in Philadelphia, who have not provided any better results than their public school counterpart.

Are we still pigeonholing all politics into a liberal/conservative dichotomy? That is SO twentieth century.

Please say something productive or shut up...these bullshit one liners are so overplayed.
posted by BlueTrain at 4:40 PM on April 15, 2002


It's not faith that's getting funded, it's "religious organizations promoting government-sanctioned outcomes." The oppressed get told "have faith, and you will be fine!" Those who suggest that the oppressed have faith they can shake the oppressors off their backs don't seem to be getting government support.

Aggressive liberals? What happened to the "wine and cheese?"
posted by sheauga at 4:51 PM on April 15, 2002


Aggressive liberals? What happened to the "wine and cheese?"

I truly hope you are not calling me a liberal. Not that there's anything wrong with it.
posted by BlueTrain at 5:00 PM on April 15, 2002


Please say something productive or shut up...these bullshit one liners are so overplayed.

Coming soon: BlueTrain's Rules of MeFi Etiquette.
posted by Ty Webb at 5:22 PM on April 15, 2002


Touche, though to be fair, the only thing worse than Bush/Clinton, Conservative/Liberal bashing is ignorance of the system altogether.
posted by BlueTrain at 5:53 PM on April 15, 2002


to be fair, the only thing worse than Bush/Clinton, Conservative/Liberal bashing is ignorance of the system altogether.

I can think of a few other things worse. Thread-chaperoning, for one...
posted by Ty Webb at 7:29 PM on April 15, 2002


What exists is much more closely linked to American's affection for good looking, charismatic bad boys than any real love for his agenda.

Of course, one (like me) could say the exact same thing about Georgie-boy...
posted by owillis at 7:32 PM on April 15, 2002


Thread-chaperoning, for one...

I'll let you know if I I come across any examples.
posted by BlueTrain at 7:50 PM on April 15, 2002


Another example: School vouchers.
While Democrats and school bureaucrats scream about "separating church & state," another generation of poor kids (mostly black) graduate without being able to read.

The only solution ever offered is shoveling more money into incredibly dysfunctional public systems. Take NYC, for example - if the Board of Ed can't teach kids to read with a an anual budget of 11.5 billion dollars (that's B-I-L-L-I-O-N), there is no hope that even more money will solve the larger problems.


uh, 11.5 B-I-L-L-I-O-N dollars gets us taxpayers how many B-2 bombers??? Five. Six if we really haggle.

"school vouchers" is such a transparently regressive scheme to divert public funds from public to private schools... as if the solution to the crisis in public education is extensive defunding... I know I know topic, sorry.
posted by ssdecontrol at 9:24 PM on April 15, 2002



posted by ssdecontrol at 9:35 PM on April 15, 2002


ssdecontrol - How are vouchers regressive? In the standard economic sense that would mean that implementing them will cost the poor more of their income than the rich. How is that the case with school vouchers?
posted by NortonDC at 3:53 AM on April 16, 2002


Please say something productive or shut up...these bullshit one liners are so overplayed.

Yes, but they're so easy...it's like getting a set-up for a pun that you can't resist making, no matter how obvious it is.

Oh, and I do try to say something productive about 90% of the time, so I feel I'm entitled to my snarky one-liners on occasion. I have no intention of giving them up.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:44 PM on April 16, 2002


NortonDC - regressive in the sense of taxing the poor to provide for the education of the rich (and, it follows, at the expense of the schooling of their own) - to quote my friend Ted Kennedy:
I oppose the Coverdell bill because it uses regressive tax policy to subsidize vouchers for private schools. It does not give any real financial help to low-income, working and middle-class families, and it does not help children in the nation's classrooms. What it does is undermine public schools and provide yet another tax give-away for the wealthy.

Public education is one of the great successes of American democracy. It makes no sense for Congress to undermine it. This bill turns its back on the nation¹s long-standing support of public schools and earmarks tax dollars for private schools. This bill is a fundamental step in the wrong direction for education and for the nation¹s children.

Senator Coverdell's proposal would spend 2.5 billion dollars over the next five years on subsidies to help wealthy people pay the private school expenses they already pay, and do nothing to help children in public schools get a better education.

It is important to strengthen our national investment in education. We should invest more in improving public schools by fixing leaky roofs and crumbling buildings, by recruiting and preparing excellent teachers, and by taking many other steps.

If we have 2.5 billion more dollars to spend on elementary and secondary education, we should spend it to deal with these problems. We should not invest in bad education policy and bad tax policy. We should support teachers and rebuild schools -- not build tax shelters for the wealthy.

posted by ssdecontrol at 11:10 PM on April 16, 2002


I must add: Don't let the smorgasboard image of the media's right wing throw you off, as we all know there are still examples of left wing talking heads. Just remember, that there is not now nor has there ever been a liberal monopoly on the media. Like every exquisitely framed right wing call to action, it is that there are liberals period that must must be done away with.
posted by crasspastor at 11:30 PM on April 16, 2002


ssdecontrol - Your citation does not provide any reasoning or factual support. All it does is establish that Ted Kennedy shares your opinion.

I am on record several times in MetaFilter as a booster for for progressive taxation, but I still don't see how vouchers qualify as regressive. I really do want to see what makes it so. Saying, even proving, that "Ted Kennedy says so" does not make it so.
posted by NortonDC at 2:29 AM on April 17, 2002


NortonDC - what can I say other than I agree with the Senator.. to ask the poor to subsidize the private education of the rich is regressive taxation, no matter what anecdotal, tokenist Horatio Voucher stories you can come up with.
posted by ssdecontrol at 7:59 PM on April 18, 2002


to ask the poor to subsidize the private education of the rich

The rich don't need subsidies for private education. That's what "rich" means.
posted by kindall at 8:39 PM on April 18, 2002


ssdecontrol - What's missing is any explanation of how vouchers amount to asking the poor to subsidize the education of the rich. I really do want to understand how you connect those dots.
posted by NortonDC at 6:44 AM on April 19, 2002


uh, 2.5 billion dollars go to pay for private schools. More students in private schools == fewer federal per student dollars for private schools. Which means less money for hurting schools WHILE more money for schools that are not hurting at all PLUS the poor will still not be able to pay for expensive education anyway. At the very, very best it helps the middle and upper-middle classes while taxing the lower-middle needlessly, but it sounds a lot like a lot of our cash going where it isn't needed while the places where it is no badly needed get less than before. And, Norton, you don't provide much factual backing that a nationalized voucher system would work, either.
posted by n9 at 2:38 PM on May 2, 2002


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