Jennifer Rubin: Conservative media’s bark is much worse than their bite

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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On his popular radio show yesterday, Rush Limbaugh predicted Mitt Romney’s inevitable win in Florida would be used by media elites to demonstrate the weakness of conservative opinion leaders.

Specifically, Limbaugh (who did not endorse anyone) predicted the media would use Romney’s victory to argue that Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, and Limbaugh, himself, were powerless against the GOP establishment.

Thus far, I haven’t found examples of writers misrepresenting Limbaugh’s neutrality — but his prediction that the media would gleefully cite a Romney win as proof of the decline of conservative influence was prescient.

For example, Slate’s Dave Weigel tweeted this:

Meanwhile, the Washington Post’s resident “conservative” blogger, Jennifer Rubin took it a step further, boasting that Romney’s victory in Florida proves “the right-wing media’s facade influence has been punctured…” She went on to add that,

… the Romney team and Republican officeholders have learned that the fickle conservative media’s bark is much worse than their bite — or their influence. Frankly, much of them can be safely ignored.

Rubin, of course, is wrong. It’s more than a little premature to argue that Romney’s win in Florida (with less than 50 percent of the vote) implies modern conservative media’s impotence or irrelevance.

And even if Romney goes on to win the primary without the support of conservative media, does that diminish their significance? The Republican establishment dominated electorally during previous eras when the conservative movement and conservative journalism was far more fertile than today. The fact that moderate Republicans won past elections did not diminish the importance of conservative opinion leaders then, nor does it now.

I would also object to the notion that Romney is just now deciding conservatives can be “safely ignored.” Outside of National Review (and a handful of other establishment outlets and writers), Team Romney gave up caring what center-right journalists and opinion leaders think a long time ago.

Matt K. Lewis