I thought I was alone in being unable to hear the words "liberalmedia" without thinking of Antonio Gramsci. But it turns out I have a comrade in Rush Limbaugh.
Writing in an Internet publication called Bad Subjects (eserver.org/bs), Charlie Bertsch quotes Rush letting his readers in on the secret of "an obscure Italian communist by the name of Antonio Gramsci [who] theorized that it would take a 'long march through the institutions' before socialism and relativism would be victorious." Rush goes on to note that "Gramsci theorized that by capturing these key institutions and using their power, cultural values would be changed, traditional morals would be broken down, and the stage would be set for the political and economic power of the West to fall."
Not being a chronic masochist, I don't listen to Rush enough to know if this bit of erudition is typical. But for a man who recently theorized, aloud and at length, that Tom Daschle is actually Satan, it is typically insane. What Gramsci brings to the party of contemporary media analysis is not the left's "long march through the institutions," which, pace Todd Gitlin, applies only to a few humanities departments, but the idea of "hegemony" as a tool of political control. Hegemony flows not from the barrel of a gun but from moral and intellectual consensus. It is the politics of "hearts and minds."
Limbaugh would have us believe that the pinkos have taken over our culture and are oppressing conservatives by mocking and excluding their views from the hegemonic liberal media. But even intelligent conservatives do not genuinely believe this. (Paging my main man again, Billy Kristol.) Indeed, if you think Jack Welch and Andy Lack over at NBC, Michael Eisner and David Westin at ABC, and Sumner Redstone and Andrew Heyward at CBS are secretly conniving to spread the gospel of world revolution, I'm afraid there is not much that can be done for you this side of electroshock.
Let us take the case that has been in the news lately, AOL Time Warner's CNN, which has recently been courting Limbaugh himself, and, according to rumor, the no-less-nutty Bill O'Reilly. The rap on CNN is that it leans too far leftward to attract the right-wing cable news audience that is rapidly falling into the lap of "fair and balanced" Fox News. Tom DeLay regularly refers to CNN as the "Communist News Network" and has suggested a Republican boycott of its programs. The network's new head, Walter Isaacson, recently made a high-profile diplomatic démarche to DeLay's minions, outraging Democrats and inspiring fears of future on-air suck-ups.