Endless right-wing self-pity

No matter how large their presence grows in the establishment media, conservative self-victimization remains central to their mythology.

Topics: Washington, D.C.,

(updated below)

The predominant attribute of the right-wing movement is self-victimizing petulance over the unfair treatment to which they are endlessly and mercilessly subjected.  Last week, C-SPAN broadcast a Commentary Magazine event that almost certainly set a record for most tough-guy/warrior nepotism ever stuffed onto a single panel, as it featured William Kristol (son of Irv and Gertrude), John Podhoretz (son of Norm and Midge), and Jonah Goldberg (son of Lucianne).  Jihadis around the world are undoubtedly still trembling at the sight of this brigade of Churchillian toughness. 

Exemplifying the deeply self-pitying theme of the entire discussion, Jonah continuously insisted that conservative magazines are so very, very important to the political landscape — indispensably so — because conservative voices are frozen out of mainstream media venues by The Liberal Media, so that poor, lonely, stigmatized conservatives can only get right-wing opinion in places like Weekly Standard and National Review.  In between Jonah’s petulant laments about how conservative opinion cannot be heard in The Mainstream Media, Bill Kristol talked about his New York Times column and his Washington Post column, John Podhoretz told stories about his tenure editing The New York Post Editorial Page and Charles Krauthammer’s years of writing a column for Time and The New Republic, and Jonah referenced his Los Angeles Times column.  None of them ever recognized the gaping disparity between those facts and their woe-is-us whining about conservative voices like theirs being shut out of The Liberal Media.   So important in conservative mythology is self-victimization that they maintain it even as they themselves unwittingly provide the facts which disprove it.

Today, National Review‘s Andy McCarthy advises readers that — shock of all shocks — The New York Times today, for some indiscernible reason, for once actually allowed his opinion to seep into its rigidly leftist pages:

Here’s Something You Don’t See In the New York Times Everyday [Andy McCarthy]

Namely, my opinion — on the controversy over the Uighur detainees at Gitmo.

He can’t just say that he has a contribution in the Times today.  Everything has to be accompanied by a self-pitying grievance lest the victimization be undermined.  Thus:  it’s such a shock when one encounters a strong conservative voice like McCarthy’s in The Liberal Media.  The leftist censoring editors at the NYT must have been out sick yesterday, as only that could explain how they let such a brave right-wing voice slip through.  Something like that basically never happens because conservatives are treated so unfairly in the media and are excluded from those venues, and it’s specifically shocking and rare that opinions from someone like McCarthy would ever, ever be found in a place like The New York Times:

New York Times, January 29, 2009:  ”A Steppingstone for Law’s Best and Brightest,” by Benjamin Weiser:

“Of all the clubs I’ve ever been in, it’s the best one to be in,” said Andrew C. McCarthy, a 1990s terrorism prosecutor who is now a commentator for National Review, but who leapt to the defense of his Southern District colleague Patrick J. Fitzgerald when he was attacked by conservatives for prosecuting I. Lewis Libby Jr.

New York Times,  January 23, 2009,  Room for Debate:  ”The Risks of Releasing Detainees”:

The Times reports today on the case of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee who has emerged as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen. . . . We asked these experts — several of whom were in earlier discussions on the legal challenges of closing Guantánamo and on the effects that torture charges have on its closing — for their response to this case. . . . Andrew McCarthy, legal affairs editor at National Review.

New York Times, January 13, 2009, Room for Debate:  “The Challenges of Closing Guantánamo”:

We asked these experts what the hardest challenge the new administration will face, and how that might be resolved. . . . Andrew McCarthy, legal affairs editor at National Review.

New York Times, January 3, 2009:  “Early Test of Obama View on Power Over Detainees,” by Adam Liptak:

Still, Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor who has generally supported the Bush administration’s approach to fighting terrorism, said Mr. Obama’s hands are tied.  He cannot, Mr. McCarthy said, continue to maintain that Mr. Marri’s detention is lawful.  “I don’t think politically for him that’s a viable option,” Mr. McCarthy said. “Legally, it’s perfectly viable.”

New York Times, December 5, 2008:  ”5 Charged in 9/11 Attacks Seek to Plead Guilty,” by William Glaberson:

“These guys are smart enough to know that they’re not ever going to see the light of day again,” said Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal terrorism prosecutor who is chairman of the Center for Law and Counterterrorism in Washington. “I think they’re trying to make as big a publicity splash as they can.”

New York Times, November 24, 2008:  ”Judge Rules That Suspects Cannot Be Detained Because of Ethnicity,” by Liz Robbins:

Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a former federal prosecutor, said the ruling “sharpens a question that needs to be addressed: What is the proper consideration of factors like ethnicity in questions of surveillance?

“The police officers want to know what the rules are. It may turn out to be bad to the American people if it tells them to do something that is counter to common sense.” Common sense, Mr. McCarthy said, dictated that the police should be able to take race and ethnicity into account in surveillance.

New York Times, November 21, 2008, “Judge Declares Five Detainees Held Illegally,” by William Glaberson:

But Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal terrorism prosecutor, said the decision highlighted the difficulties of courts’ reviewing wartime decisions about who qualifies as an enemy combatant. Mr. McCarthy said those were decisions “our system of divided powers consigns to military professionals in the executive branch, not judges.”

New York Times, November 14, 2008, “Post-Guantánamo: A New Detention Law?,” by William Glaberson:

Some lawyers warn that given the nature of evidence against some Guantánamo detainees, prosecutors may not be able to convict them.  “We have lots of information that is reliable, that tells us someone is a threat and that cannot be proved in court,” said Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal terrorism prosecutor who is now director of the Center for Law and Counterterrorism.

New York Times, August 8, 2008:  ”With Fewer Terror Trials, Manhattan Court Quiets Down,” by Benjamin Weiser:

Andrew C. McCarthy, a former assistant United States attorney who helped to prosecute the landmarks bomb plot, said the Siddiqui case demonstrated that “we’re actually starting to get to a place where we’re developing some coherent principles about which cases ought to go into which system.”

New York Times, June 6, 2008, “Adviser Says McCain Backs Bush Wiretaps,” by Charlie Savage:

Andrew C. McCarthy, a National Review columnist who has defended the administration’s legal theories, wrote that Mr. Holtz-Eakin’s statement “implicitly shows Senator McCain’s thinking has changed as time has gone on and he has educated himself on this issue.”

New York Times, September 20, 2007:  ”Big Terror Trial Shaped Views of Justice Pick,” by Adam Liptak:

“The tools we had to charge terrorism were appallingly bad,” said Andrew C. McCarthy, the lead prosecutor. . . .That view, Mr. McCarthy said, has turned out to be naïve, and he has proposed the creation of a new national security court to address the problem. In his Wall Street Journal article last month, Judge Mukasey said Mr. McCarthy’s proposal and similar ones “deserve careful scrutiny.”

In fairness to McCarthy, his whine that his opinion doesn’t appear in The New York Times “every day” is, I suppose, technically true.  There do appear to be some days — not many — that the Times publishes its newspaper without including views from Andy McCarthy (though in January alone, one encountered his opinion in its pages on 4 separate days).  

If you subject yourself to the establishment media, there are few things more difficult than avoiding right-wing polemicists (even the supposedly “liberal” cable network, MSNBC, has a 3-hour show hosted by a movement conservative (Joe Scarborough) and only 2 one-hour shows hosted by ostensible ”liberals”).  The Washington Post Op-Ed page is and has long been a veritable museum showcasing neoconservative tripe.  And that’s to say nothing of overtly right-wing outlets like Fox News and The Wall St. Journal Editorial Page.  

But no matter.  Their orgy of self-pitying grievances has no end.  As they tell it, unless you read The Weekly Standard or National Review, it’s basically assured that you never encounter right-wing opinion, because the media hates them, silences them, and shuts them out.  Nothing is rarer than Andy McCarthy’s opinion being heard in The New York Times.  And the American media — which even Scott McClellan mocked for being ”too deferential” to the Bush administration and which is owned by America’s largest corporations and richest elites — is devoted to proselytizing a leftist agenda.   Like everything else, it’s all so, so unfair to our stalwart right-wing warriors.

* * * * *

On a related note, one of the most notable developments in our political culture is that the person who is rapidly becoming the voice and face of movement conservatism — Glenn Beck — is so deranged that it is hard to put into words.  While The New York Times danced around that fact in a largely respectful profile last week, Stephen Colbert last night captured the inflammatory insanity that Fox News broadcasts on a daily basis:


The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The 10/31 Project
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor NASA Name Contest


UPDATE:  I really enjoyed the awards ceremony last night for the Izzy Award, at Ithaca College.  The video of the event — including the speeches which Amy Goodman and I gave — should be online within a couple of days.  One of the highlights of the ceremony was the introductory remarks by Izzy Stone’s son, Jeremy Stone, which can be read here.  Jeremy Stone was the long-time head of the Federation of American Scientists and also maintains this site devoted to his father’s journalism, which contains the entire archive of Stone’s weekly newsletters.  If you ever want to see what real independent journalism and media criticism looked like during the McCarthy and Vietnam eras, just pick any of Stone’s newsletters at random and read some of them (all of them are archived, by year, here).  He pioneered and defined the genre.

Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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