Media Matters Pundit Boot Camp
If you ever wondered to yourself where exactly the Leftist talking heads get all their talking points, look no further. For some inexplicable reason, Media Matters for America allowed the Washington Post to observe and write about their “Pundit Boot Camp.”
The official name of it is the Progressive Talent Initiative. You have to read it to believe it.
Back? Okay. Is it just me or did that not read like a cross between band camp and some old Soviet information ministry / indoctrination camp? Let’s pull out some of creepy points and start with those.
The brick carriage house is usually the headquarters of the Mathematical Association of America, but for a few days in the middle of March, the left-wing organizationMedia Matters for America converted it into a partisan boot camp where rebel forces were trained for combat on Fox News. Over four grueling days, Harvard-honed instructors drilled a dozen softie policy wonks, molding them into an elite unit of smiling, succinct and well-coiffed talking heads.
Alright, maybe “creepy” is the wrong word. Let’s go with hilarious. An “elite unit”? Leftists? Going with the military imagery?
Since its inception in August 2009, the Progressive Talent Initiative, or PTI, has trained nearly 100 pundits who have appeared 800 times on television and radio. Media Matters uses that metric to pitch donors for more contributions, but its leadership believes that the surge of camera-ready liberals has recaptured lost ground in the media wars against conservatives.
Yup. They’re doing the military imagery.
Now, I keep an eye out for Media Matters people on TV. I don’t recall there being that many. Over a hundred pundits? I’ve seen David Brock and Eric Boehlert, and that’s pretty much it. Do these Media Matters trained pundits identify themselves as such? Apparently not. By design:
To observe the training, The Post agreed to withhold the names of participants who asked not to be identified, which many of them did when instructors warned that a public alliance with Media Matters could jeopardize their chances of getting booked on Fox.
Oh really? That’s an excellent way to establish credibility. You know, by hiding who recruited and trained you to be a Progressive talking point parrot. The Washington Post did give us a way to identify these operatives, though:
Eager to offer a conversion parable, the instructors showed a Fox News appearance by PTI graduate Taylor West, now a communications director for National Journal, in which her good-natured teasing bested a conservative expert on Web security. She knew virtually nothing about the issue and crammed for the interview in the makeup chair.
Aha! All you need to do is look for the smarmy and smug pundits who tend to condescend to the hosts and scoff at the suggestion that they might be full of crap. Wait. That’s pretty much every Leftist pundit on TV. Are they all in on it? There are 100 of these so-called “Democratic strategists” who should be identifying themselves as “Media Matters Mouthpieces.”
Speaking of smarmy and smug, get this:
Westen pontificated about the similarities between human and sheep brains and then conducted some psychological experiments on the class to demonstrate “a heightened state of latent activation in your brain.” To emphasize the point, he played a Fox News clip, showing anchor Shepard Smith accidentally referencing a sex act in a segment about Jennifer Lopez. As the class chirped, Westen observed that while “it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy,” the clip revealed that certain words and images triggered powerful, and usually unspoken, thoughts in the viewer’s mind.
The word “Liberal” then appeared on the screen, surrounded by “elite,” “big government,” “sushi-eating” and “latte-drinking.” Westen explained that the “right has spent 40 years and tens of billions of dollars” tarnishing the once-proud label. “In this room, it’s like:Feminism and lesbianism? Yeah!” he observed approvingly. But TV watchers elsewhere don’t feel the same. In short, anything “liberal” fires the wrong synapses.
You see, the reason Leftists need to be dishonest about who they are is because the sheep (that’s everyone else) have been trained to think Liberal is a bad word. It couldn’t possibly be the consistent failure of Leftist policies or the fact that there’s an obvious “blame America first” streak on the Left. Nah! It’s all Fox News’ fault. It’s all the fault of those evil conservatives and those crazy limited government / free enterprise ideals. Why would anyone in their right minds not prefer the central management of every aspect of society the Left espouses. Pfft. Rubes. Of course the Left has to lie about themselves. No would believe them if they just relied on their track record, silly!
I’m still trying to figure out why they even allowed this to be reported. It makes them look like a bunch of fools. I mean, David Shuster was a guest for this thing. David Shuster! The dude who was banned by MSNBC from using Twitter, for crying out loud. (By the way, Dave. You’ve forfeited any possible claim of impartiality for any reporting gig you might land in the future, buddy.)
One thing did stick out and caused me to raise an eyebrow. It came at the end of the piece.
Media Matters staff handed out feedback forms and told the group about a listserv where policy pointers, last-minute on-screen tutorials and moral support were at their fingertips. The organization was even in the process of hiring its own booking agent to more strategically deploy their talent.
“We’re really working to get you guys booked,” said White, the program assistant. “Because America needs you.”
No, I’m not talking about the hilariously inaccurate “America needs you” part. As if. I’m talking about the listserv where “policy pointers, last-minute on-screen tutorials and moral support” is available. Journolist 2.0 anyone? And stop laughing. Everyone needs moral support when they’re lying their faces off.
There you have it. The propagandists are being trained in the latest communications techniques. News networks, even Fox, are putting these people on and giving them legitimacy by not associating them with Media Matters. And that’s the funniest part of it all. The Washington Post just told anyone who reads their website that Media Matters is such a crap brand that they actually train their operatives to avoid being associated with them.
What were they thinking? Are they that insulated from reality? Holy Echo-Chamber, Batman!