That the mainstream media are increasingly conservative and gossip-driven is not exactly news. Interestingly, the gossip media, even when judged by their own debased standards, also seem to exhibit a political tilt. A prime reason for this is the fact that the mogul who specializes in financing the best of them, Australian newspaper baron Rupert Murdoch, is himself a committed right-wing ideologue who uses his media properties to romance reactionaries and assault his liberal adversaries. Even a hint of leftish malfeasance is therefore often front-page news for a Murdoch tabloid. For conservatives, however, the dirty deed in question has to be so heinous–or titillating–that its buzz factor overcomes the weight of ideological inconvenience.
Something like that took place recently when the New York Post, a money-losing tabloid composed almost entirely of gossip and sports, reported that a conservative “opinion-maker” had “made the mistake of having an affair with a woman in her 20s who never mastered reproductive biology.” The unfortunate woman had had an abortion and a miscarriage. But that’s not all. It seems her mother had also had a fling with the same “right-wing philosopher.” The mother faxed a complaint to his office, where it was gleefully shared with many inquiring minds.
As this was a blind item–none of the principals are identified by name–it could easily be entirely fictional. (Such was the case of another such item, on the same page, in which happily married New York Times pundit Frank Rich was alleged, ridiculously, to be having a homosexual affair with a theater producer and–somehow–intervening with the newspaper’s arts coverage to promote his new lover.) The only person actually named anywhere in the recent mother/daughter story, James Carville, said to be “investigating” it, says it’s news to him.
Still, if a Murdoch gossip writer is doing a hit-job on a fellow right-wing warrior, it’s hard to believe some mother’s daughter is not crying somewhere. Moreover, the item got me thinking. What if, aside from the usual focus on important matters like Julia Roberts’s shaving habits and Monica Lewinsky’s choice of desserts, Murdoch’s mafia went after conservative hypocrites with the same gusto it keeps in reserve for Bill and Hillary? What if the Post went after the boss himself? Might it suddenly seem as if the nation was awash in an epidemic of moral degeneracy among the right-thinking? Consider the possibilities:
The Murdoch Item. What conservative mogul responsible for the network broadcast of the most obscene show in history–Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire?–was recently hit with obscenity charges in India? He also publishes a cheeky British tabloid with at least one topless “lovely” per day. This same mogul, who has been known to censor his publications to appease Communist dictators, recently made headlines casting aside thirty-one years of holy matrimony to create a love nest with News Corporation employee Wendy Deng, whose age, 31, coincidentally, matched exactly the number of years the “arrogant Aussie” and the ex-missus had been married.