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Conservative media, know thy place

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Matt K. Lewis
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      Matt K. Lewis

      Matt K. Lewis is a senior contributor to The Daily Caller, and a contributing editor for The Week. He is a respected commentator on politics and cultural issues, and has been cited by major publications such as The Washington Post and The New York Times. Matt is from Myersville, MD and currently resides in Alexandria, VA. Follow Matt K. Lewis on Twitter <a>@mattklewis</a>.

The HuffPost’s Michael Calderone has written a very long piece on the topic of conservative media. If that’s your brand of vodka (and there must be literally dozens of you out there), this one’s for you.

I’m tempted to get into a point-by-point rebuttal, but I will resist the urge. Instead, here are just a couple points worth considering.

First, consider this from Calderone’s piece:

The Daily Caller has had some successes in its three-year history, including its coverage of the waste and abuse within the Republican National Committee. It also obtained leaked discussions from Journolist, a private listserv of liberal bloggers, policy wonks and political journalists which this reporter first profiled in 2009. The Daily Caller reported last year that now former Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) hadn’t lived in the state for over 30 years and, just last month, that Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) will get a primary challenger.

 

But such reporting has been overshadowed by The Daily Caller’s more sensational stories over the past year …

Why is that? Could it be that the admittedly solid, but more mundane reporting, garners neither attention nor praise from mainstream media observers? (Also, notice that many of the items listed above are examples of TheDC holding Republicans accountable.)

The easiest way to be respected, it seems, is to play it safe — know your place — and to certainly not challenge the media’s liberal narratives. With a few exceptions, the heroes in Calderone’s narrative tend to be the more august conservative publications. These outlets are typically commentary-heavy, frequently on very good terms with Republican leadership (which TheDC is frequently not), and rarely rock the boat or break big news.

My sense is that Republican leadership is comfortable enough with them in the veal pen — and the mainstream media is equally happy with their existence. After all, they pose no real threat to the mainstream media’s narratives. Like Bob Michel, they are content with their station in life — and have grown complacent and comfortable within their little corner of the conservative movement.

Conversely, the more feisty new media outlets are more like Newt Gingrich — trying to change the world and upset the apple cart.

This pisses everyone off.

Nobody said this wouldn’t be messy. The Daily Caller is only three years old. Conservative media is still in its infancy. Everyone agrees that good journalism involves getting facts straight, vetting sources, etc. The question is, whether outlets like TheDC should strive to be accepted and respected by playing it safe and commenting on the establishment media’s pre-existing narratives — or instead, work aggressively to drive news cycles, challenge preconceived notions, and take on sacred cows?

“Well-behaved women,” the saying goes, “rarely make history.” The same is true of media outlets.