Oliver Willis

Media + Politics Thoughts

* 1950s-80s: Right feels put out by the “liberal consensus” and communicate via direct mail and media connected to the church, this becomes a considerable tool in fighting for Reagan and Bush I.

* 1990s: In opposition, con talk radio comes into its own led by Rush. Drudge joins in and Fox revs up.

* Early 2000s: Fox is at full blast, blogs start bubbling up. Liberal blogs become part of force pushing to revitalize the Democrats while talk radio plays defense of Bush

* Today

I think we’re almost at a draw – as far as partisan media goes. I think liberal blogs + Huffington + Olbermann/Maddow are able to affect the national narrative at almost the same power of Drudge + Fox + Right Talk. I think that while the con blogs have a role in the food chain – bubbling up stories for talk radio – their footprint is far smaller than the liberal blogs. At the same time, right talk is slightly stronger than the liberal blogs so it evens out. If you look at strength in the medium, I think the left’s use of the blogs is way ahead of where we are with talk radio (and frankly, I find liberal blogs a million times more useful and entertaining than liberal talk). The con blog flaw is that it isn’t a grassroots medium for them the way radio and direct mail was. The whole thing – especially sites like The Next Right and Redstate.com are playpens for GOP consultants in the Junior Rove Society. If liberal blogs had all been started by the James Carville and Paul Begalas they wouldn’t be nearly as good. Ditto for liberal radio, where there still are too many politicians and comedians. You may hate the content of con radio, but Limbaugh & Co. know their medium.

So the question is, what is the next medium and who will win it? I don’t see either side gaining in talk, cable or blog to the level where the other guy gets creamed. While President Clinton’s media shop was savvy enough to hold off the right wing, I think President Obama will have far more weapons in his arsenal, and the right – as we saw in the campaign – will fight hard but it may end up being a draw. Obama has the bully pulpit and a way of going past the MSM’s filter on things. I’m not declaring victory by any measure, because as we showed the right, there’s nothing so good for innovation as being completely frozen out. Yet, I can’t think of any medium thats in its early stages that doesn’t already seem to be leaning left – including Twitter, Social Networks, etc.

Maybe pamphlets will make a comeback!