Media in 2014: Who is Saul Alinsky and why should we care?

See, here’s the thing. I have absolutely no problem with reporters pooh-poohing random stuff from college, graduate school or early careers. If only they’d do it consistently. But I remember the Washington Post’s eleventy billion stories about one Republican gubernatorial candidate’s master’s thesis. Or remember all those stories about how Sarah Palin’s husband was a member of a third party in Alaska? The New York Times sure gave that major coverage. Or freaking Rick Perry walking near a rock that someone else painted with a bad word or something? Or Mitt Romney being engaged in high school pranks and that being given major coverage? Politico has 60 stories on Rand Paul and Aqua Buddha, for crying out loud! Sixty!

If every time any GOP candidate does anything other than condemn novelist Ayn Rand to hell, Politico knows to cover that. At length. Ad nauseum. See, for example, the first three items that come up when you search for her name in Politico’s search engine. Well, first there’s a poll asking if Rand Paul is named after Ayn Rand (not at all, no). Then: “Ryan’s love-hate with Ayn Rand,” “7 pols who praised Ayn Rand,” “Ayn Rand followers applaud Ryan.” A similar search for Saul Alinsky yields very bizarre results, most of them focused on making the claim that — I kid you not — it’s the right who loves Alinsky. So we have “Right loves to hate, imitate Alinsky,” “Newt Gingrich is no Saul Alinsky,” and “A Saul Alinsky Republican?” and “Rudy: Newt acting like Saul Alinsky” and “James O’Keefe is Saul Alinsky in a funhouse mirror.” You could write your own master’s thesis on why the media portrays Alinsky as an albatross around the right’s neck but then claims to not know who he is when there are fan letters between him and president-elect (too soon?) Hillary Rodham Clinton. If you did write that, you would not get a passing grade on that thesis at Wellesley or the University of Colorado, though.

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