There is an interesting profile of The Weekly Standard in The New York Times this morning. David Carr explains the rising influence of this neoconservative magazine. He quotes liberal pundit Eric Alterman:
Mr. Alterman said the magazine’s influence begins with Mr. Kristol but hardly ends there. “He is a political genius, pure and simple,” Mr. Alterman said. “He is articulate about his viewpoint without insulting his opponent. And his magazine publishes writers that could work anywhere.”
The magazine’s roster includes Robert Kagan, David Brooks, Christopher Caldwell and David Tell, lively political and cultural theorists with significant credentials. The Weekly Standard distinguished itself by replacing some of the inherent defensiveness and indignation of conservative discourse with humor and nuance. The formula is reaching beyond the choir of people who worship The National Review.
What I find interesting about this is the stark contrast between this characterization of a political magazine and what we see/hear on political television and radio. There’s a big difference (metaphorically) between Rush Limbaugh and William Kristol.
Some of the difference is due to the intellect of William Kristol and his writers/editors. The balance of the difference, however, belongs to medium of print (including the internet). So called angry white men listen to Limbaugh. Those actually running the show are reading the Standard. This observation raises disturbing questions (independent of ideology): Do these disparate media presentations work in concert, and, if so, how? Do these presentations create an information hierarchy and an intellectual stratification of the audience? Is the flow of information between these media one-way or two-way? Are these presentations coordinated?
Many liberals believe the answer to that last question is ‘yes.’ I’m not so sure. But efforts to start a liberal talk-radio network to counter the likes of Limbaugh certainly suggest coordination is possible, even politically desirable.
UPDATE (2:47 p.m.): Thanks to alert reader Rebecca Grafton for catching two errors in this entry.