Monday, July 4, 2011

James Moore on Mark Halperin: The Myth of Liberal Mainstream Media

Texas communications analyst James Moore writing in the tradition of Molly Ivins and Jim Hightower, on Mark Helperin's recent faux slip of the tongue about Mr. Obama, and how it reveals the non-liberal slant of the mainstream (read: beltway) media: 

Halperin's own dickiness is a kind of icon for the disaffection the rest of us in fly-over America feel for much of the national media. The East Coast condescension of editors and journalists who want the rest of the country to know they are smarter than the rest of us is annoying in the extreme. Halperin's politics, in particular, have always been thinly veiled. He cannot hide his Republican and conservative leanings and you need to hear only one interview to ascertain his perspective. The same is true of most "analysts." The on-air broadcasters and political thinkers in New York and Washington spend a great deal of their time sitting around breathing each other's fumes and waiting for absurd notions to become their conventional wisdom. 

And he's right.

Moore's point here is similar to the one I hoped to make in my recent postings about how American Catholic intellectuals of the center have tended to process the human rights victory represented by New York's enactment of same-sex marriage.  There is a strong gatekeeping mentality at work in this influential sector of American Catholicism, which tries to restrict the conversation of the center to a carefully selected elite.  That elite is predominantly drawn from the "right" Catholic academic circles, and is strongly skewed in the direction of the elite cultural enclaves of the east coast, which have long determined most of the "important" conversations of American culture.

And because the gatekeepers who seek to predetermine who counts and who doesn't count in the intellectual conversation that makes American Catholicism are so strongly rooted in the circles of power and influence of a very restricted and elitist cultural milieu, they are oblivious to the rich diversity of American Catholicism, whose church-making conversation vastly transcends that of the powerbrokers of the center.

These centrist Catholic intellectuals don't understand what is happening in American Catholicism at any profound level, even as they purport to be the interpreters of meaning and the gatekeepers of meaningful conversation for the rest of us.  And so while they remain stuck in 1967 when it comes to the question of same-sex marriage, much of the rest of American Catholicism has moved to 2011, and is able to recognize and celebrate a diversity to which the center is blind.

Since the center jealously guards its dialogue space, and admits only those who look and act like the gatekeepers already occupying that space.  The right people.  With the right pedigrees.  Coming from the right places.  Saying the right things.

The predictable things that can in no way chart a promising course for a vibrant, multicultural American Catholicism in constructive dialogic engagement with the culture at large.  For that constructive dialogue, the one that is really energizing American Catholicism and bringing its traditions and values to the public square in a transformative way, one must look to the margins.

Which aren't to be found in the rarefied, constricted, tiny circles of power in which the centrist gatekeepers live.

No comments: