US News and World Report published an article today with this headline: Fred Barnes Wants Conservatives to Infiltrate Left Wing Media.
Barnes is the executive editor of the conservative Weekly Standard. He is also a featured pundit on Fox News. The surprising thing about the headline above is not what Barnes is proposing. That has been going on for decades. The surprising thing is that he is admitting it in public. The occasion was a swanky dinner in his honor hosted by the uber-rightist American Spectator Magazine. Barnes delivered an address that was remarkably candid with regard to his aspirations for spreading conservative dogma. There is already ample evidence of the right’s efforts to “infiltrate” the press, and Barnes helpfully makes that very point in his speech:
“Conservatives dominate talk radio; we do awfully well in magazines, with the American Spectator, Weekly Standard, National Review, and many others, and actually there is probably room for a lot more. With Fox News we do pretty well on television. Fox News really has a tremendous influence.”
So why is Barnes complaining when he already knows how much conservatives have come to monopolize the media? What more does he want? I’ll let him tell you:
“What we need to do right now is dedicate ourselves to expanding our influence and not just sitting back and complaining about the mainstream media, but infiltrating them, overtaking them and changing the American media.”
Barnes goes on to note that there is a lot of money available to right-wingers to start more magazines, buy TV networks, etc. Apparently controlling the bulk of the print, radio and TV news business isn’t enough. He wants all of it.
But the worst part of this is that he is advocating the formation of an army of young reporters to surreptitiously sneak into legitimate news enterprises and misrepresent themselves in order to plant their disinformation from within. It is a strikingly unethical proposal whose only purpose is to taint the practice of journalism and advance his own weaselly agenda. And the fact that he is comfortable announcing such a scheme in public says a lot about the shamelessness of the rightist movement.