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A Tuesday profile in the New York Times detailing corporate America’s waning influence on the Republican Party pointed out that “big business leaders have seemed relatively powerless” as Republican leaders struggle to control small-government conservatives in Congress. That’s good news for conservatives who support limited government, but it unfortunately seems like “big media” has supplanted big business as establishment Republicans’ main ally in their quest to drive conservatives and libertarians out of elected office.
John Nolte of Breitbart News first pointed out the unholy alliance between the New York Times and big government Republicans in July: “It is hard to tell who is using who, but to see the GOP Establishment become so useful to the New York Times' ongoing jihad against conservatives is more than a little troubling.”
The growing awareness that the Times has been volunteering itself as a mouthpiece for Republicans who want conservatives out of the party hasn’t done much to reduce the Times’ efforts. Just last week, Times columnist Thomas Edsall informed readers that, according to senior Romney strategist Stuart Stevens, Democrats would win the presidency in 2016 if “Republican primary voters go over the edge” by nominating Sens. Ted Cruz or Rand Paul for the position instead of a moderate like Jeb Bush.
Democrats quoting losers on what Republicans should do in order to win makes as much sense as Ann Coulter quoting Michael Dukakis on what Democrats should do to win. Yet the Times would never try to pass the latter off as credible commentary.
In fact, Edsall regularly runs commentary quoting establishment Republicans who complain that conservatives are ruining the party. In July, Edsall quoted a deluge of Republican lobbyists and strategists who said that too many people were becoming focused on ideas and not focused enough on winning. “Too many ideologues have come in,” one former Bush official said. “You don’t win by what they are doing.”
However, the symbiosis between left-wing Republicans and the media extends well beyond the New York Times. The day after Nolte’s piece describing the bias of the Times, The Hill published an analysis of Sen. Paul’s feud with Gov. Chris Christie, which had ended with Paul offering to have a beer with Christie. The piece, titled “Paul cries uncle,” explained that Sen. Paul’s effort at magnanimity constituted a concession to Christie.
Using the words of former McCain strategist Ford O’Connell, the piece explained that in order to win the 2016 presidential nomination, “Rand Paul will certainly have to appeal to establishment voters…. he knows that right now Chris Christie is the darling of establishment Republicans. If he continues to jab Christie so openly, establishment Republicans will work hard to defeat Rand.”
We never see mainstream media outlets warning of electoral consequences for Republican politicians who abandon their limited-government positions (Ahem. Mitt Romney). Yet we see ad nauseam threats that conservative politicians will be defeated if they ignore left-wing or establishment Republicans.
Of course, no one complains about the media more than establishment Republicans who desperately want to look like outsiders. The Republican National Committee (RNC) made news when it voted last month not to cooperate with NBC and CNN in organizing Republican presidential debates in 2016. While that was the right thing to do, it did not necessarily make the process any more helpful to conservative Republicans.
In fact, conservatives had already proposed a rules change in 2012 that would have given the RNC more authority over debates. It would have required that any candidate reaching one percent in national polls be included in debates sanctioned by the RNC. It would have prevented networks from arbitrarily excluding candidates they didn’t deem worthy.
Led by Romney Legal Counsel Ben Ginsberg, establishment Republicans defeated the proposal on grounds that the RNC had no place dictating which candidates were to appear in debates. In other words, television networks were left free to determine which candidates were fit to participate. If candidates like Ted Cruz or Rand Paul are judged too extreme to invite to debates, no problem – the RNC has done nothing to exclude them, the story goes. All of the blame will fall on those darn liberal networks, party leadership will assure us.
The Republican establishment acts like the mainstream media is hostile to their interests. But the reality is, when it comes to undermining those leading the charge for small-government, they are often partners in crime.