There Goes That Liberal Media…Again

Everybody say it with me: …Still. Not. Liberal. (via the Washington Monthly):

Trevor Francis, the communications director at the Republican National Committee, was forced out yesterday. A couple of hours later, the party announced that Alex Castellanos, a notorious Republican media consultant and CNN contributor, will take over as a senior communications adviser to RNC Chairman Michael Steele.

The news prompted Atrios to note , “I’m sure CNN will keep his seat warm.” I assumed the same thing, but as it turns out, that won’t be necessary – Castellanos will still be sitting in the same seat…

Apparently, Castellanos makes enough money doing media work for private health insurance companies and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that he’ll be unpaid for his work as the RNC’s senior communications adviser. And since Castellanos won’t literally be on the Republican National Committee’s payroll, CNN is entirely comfortable paying him to offer “political analysis” on the air.

And here I thought the ethical/professional lines had already been blurred too much. Now, CNN – you know, the network that has positioned itself as above the fray – will feature regular on-air commentary from the Republican National Committee’s new message/strategy guy.

Y’know – I get it when people point out that James Carville and Paul Begala are both well-known, very connected Democratic strategy guys. But neither Begala nor Carville is currently employed by the DNC – or the DSCC, or the DCCC, in any formal capacity (paid or unpaid). What CNN’s done would only be equalled if they had hired Howard Dean eighteen months ago to fill a regular political analyst seat….while he was head of the DNC. MSNBC uses Dean now, but that’s just not the same thing, since Dean no longer has any direct role in shaping the DNC’s agenda.

And beyond such hair-splitting questions, the larger point is that one of the more ludicrous pieces of “conventional wisdom” (which is almost always the former, but rarely the latter) has had it for some time now that the media is “liberal.” I don’t know how anyone can realistically read or hear about a story such as this one, and conclude that what the FOX-Nation crowd refers to as the “mainstream media” (basically, anything other than FOX and conservative talk-radio and right-wing websites) is functionally liberal, using any real-world definition of the word “liberal.” When CNN starts inviting Noam Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn on regularly as featured, in-house analysts – and the likes of Castellanos are not seen in the CNN green rooms anymore, then call me and I will happily agree that the media is liberal.

Until then? Not. So. Much.