What’s the biggest media-manufactured myth of 2012?

posted at 12:36 pm on August 24, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

Matthew Continetti, of the Free Beacon, does a thorough takedown of Jane Mayer’s latest piece in The New Yorker about big money and politics, in which she predictably casts Democrats as purse-lipped, conflicted participants just trying to play defense against selfish Republicans looking to game the system for their own ends. As is often the case with the media, Mayer entirely ignores the possibility that lobbying the federal government for more federal government, as liberal donors do, might be designed to return material gains to said liberals. Sometimes those gains are rather obvious, in fact, as in the case of taxpayer dollars going to Obama-connected green energy companies by the hundreds of millions. Continetti takes pains to introduce her to the generous portion of the news cycle she seems to have missed before writing this piece.

The myth: It’s the idea that liberal donors don’t ask for anything in return. It’s worth reading the whole thing.

Mayer seems to have gullibly accepted the administration’s self-serving explanation for the drop-off in support, a fairy-tale that flatters Obama’s sense of intellectual and moral superiority while making Democratic donors look like immature crybabies. The remarkable thing is that the donors do not seem to mind. Mayer’s article is stuffed with their anonymous complaints—the transparency these rich liberals claim to support does not appear to extend to journalism. They say Obama isn’t friendly, he never calls, he once refused to pose for photos at White House holiday parties, his staff is haughty, he does not hold enough dinners, he is “unusually self-contained,” etc., etc.

One realizes after a while however that the donor’s gripes are just as self-indulgent and self-flattering as the spin from team Obama. What binds the disparate threads of Mayer’s piece together is its assumption of good faith on the part of progressives and bad faith on the part of Republicans. This kindergarten-level reasoning is presented matter-of-factly, as though American politics at the highest level had all the subtlety of a Disney cartoon.

Liberal big money = purest form of democracy. Conservative big money = violation of spirit of democracy!

As Sonny Bunch and Jonah Goldberg found out in tweeting with noted rich-guy movie producer Judd Apatow, it can get confusing which rich people are allowed to throw their money into political causes.

Since 2008, Judd Apatow has donated $63,100 to the Obama Victory Fund, the DCCC, and Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. His wife, Leslie Mann-Apatow, has given another $17,700 since 2010. In other words, between the two of them, they have donated more than $80,000 to Democrats—or 60 percent more than the United States median household income of $49,445. If you’re going to talk about the problem of big money influencing politics, you might want to have just a smidgen of self-awareness.


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