One of the cardinal rules of sports is that in the week before a contest, you don't deride your opponent. Most coaches frown upon it. In their eyes, it doesn't make sense to provide "bulletin board" material for the opposing team to get them fired up for the game. There's a chance it might not have any effect at all, but sports coaches are all about minimizing risk. Why chance it. Better to keep your mouth shut and do the talking on the field, they say.
The right wing in this country has, for a long time, talked smack. The thing is, they did it in a vacuum. For much of the 1990s and early 2000s they had only the castrated mainstream press to counter them and they would make great declarations without any sort of caveat. We were told time and again that Bill Clinton would be removed from office, Hillary Clinton was going to jail, and that there was no way in hell Al Gore could win more votes than George W. Bush. Not to mention Iraq and beyond. But their victories in 2002 and 2004 made the right even cockier than usual. Karl Rove himself proclaimed that the country had realigned itself in favor of a permanent Republican majority.
And Hugh Hewitt was right there up front. From July 2006:
On July 4, Salem Communications, one of the country's largest radio-station owners, will relaunch an old Web war horse called Townhall.com as a hub for its stable of stars (including Bill Bennett, Michael Medved and Hewitt himself). The hope? That "Web 2.0" wherewithal can transform what was once an op-ed clearinghouse into a single nerve center serving the separate conservative communities of talk radio and the Internet. To Hewitt, a valuable White House ally, the math is simple: add 6 million Salem fans to Townhall's 1.4 million unique monthly visitors and you've got an audience six or seven times the size of liberal site Daily Kos, the Web's biggest political blog. "We will overwhelm them," he says.
Should Dems be alarmed? "Absolutely," says Hewitt. "Unless they don't mind political exile."
That was almost one year ago, and as I've told my readers before: there is no reason to believe anything that Hugh Hewitt says.
Amount of Republican senators before Hugh Hewitt took over TownHall.com: 55
Amount of Republican senators after Hugh Hewitt took over TownHall.com: 49
Amount of Republican congressmen before Hugh Hewitt took over TownHall.com: 232
Amount of Republican congressmen after Hugh Hewitt took over TownHall.com: 202
Graph of Townhall.com's reach on the web since Hewitt took over:
Graph of Townhall.com (red) reach vs. Dailykos.com (blue) reach since Hewitt took over:
Look, I'm not saying that at some point Townhall.com won't turn itself into the robot from Voltron and destroy us all, but what I am saying is that since the media will never - ever hold the right's soaring rhetoric against the facts of the matter, that falls to folks like us to do. For a long time if one of them said George W. Bush could walk on water, it was an accepted truth. And now, as they ditch Bush to the wayside already the argument is swirling that he was never conservative. You will soon see that become an accepted truth on the right and in the mainstream press.
BONUS Fun chart submitted without comment. Media Matters for America (blue) vs. Media Research Center (red) from 2002-present:
(all data from Alexa)