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Taking on the '527 Media'

By Jed Babbin

Dear Mr. Mehlman:

By now your reverie over Ned Lamont's victory has faded. You'd not be human if you hadn't spent a day or two basking in the afterglow of Ned's performance that night, surrounded by his pals Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, with the Greek chorus chanting, "bring them home" in the background. The only thing missing on that stage was Barbra Streisand. It must have brought to mind the Wellstone funeral-cum-campaign rally of 2002, another milestone in the Democrats' self-destruction.

As RNC Chairman, you're surrounded by a swarm of consultants, who are probably feeding you reasons to play it safe. That advice is wrong because some in the media will do anything to defeat your candidates, and if you don't deal with that threat, they'll succeed. It's not that Republicans face certain disaster at the polls. To the contrary, if you study a few ground truths, and follow my dad's prescription for everything -- planning, a little luck and a lot of work -- you might even gain seats in the Senate.

The first ground truth is that the liberal media, not the Democrats, are the party standing in opposition to the Republicans. The Democrats ran out of ideas the night Bobby Kennedy died, and since then the media have become the primary source of Democrat ideas and policy.

The second truth is that the media are more than just the Dems' think tank. In fact, some of the biggest media outlets are the source of thinly veiled attack ads aimed at your candidates just like the so-called "527 Groups," those huge soft-money peddlers supposedly independent of the candidates they support. Think of what George Soros could do if he had a global news network that could produce multi-million dollar attack ads every day, and then you'll know what some mainstream media outlets have become. Rightly or wrongly, given their history with CBS, ABC, NBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post and lately, AP, some conservatives classify them among the worst offenders.

The "527 Media" -- and that's what you should be calling them -- are essentially political activists. They are in the campaign business nearly as much as they are in the business of reporting the news these days. They will be tossing October surprises at Republicans all day every day from September 5, when Katie Couric takes over at CBS, until the election returns are certified.

The third truth is that you Republicans have badly misjudged the American people. Some Republican Bob Shrum has convinced you guys to not even fight for Blue State America. There are lots of middle-of-the-road Blue State Americans who only hear what the "527 Media" wants them to, because your team doesn't even try to reach them. Political consultants used to say Republicans could never win in the South, either.

The next truth is that the Republican base is practically begging to be fired up about the "527 Media's" political activism. They know something is badly wrong with the guys, but they can't quite put their finger on it. The problem began in the Clinton years when the media gave the administration a pass on the growth of terrorism, on Iraq and on the mountains of non-Monica corruption the Clintons lived in. By turning a blind eye to the Clintons' problems, the "527 Media" became intellectually corrupt, more interested in political success for the Dems than the truth.

Americans knew they'd heard something important last year when Washington Post editor Marie Arana said, "The elephant in the newsroom is our narrowness ... If you work here, you must be one of us. You must be liberal, progressive, a Democrat. I've been in communal gatherings at the Post, watching election returns, and have been flabbergasted to see my colleagues cheer unabashedly for the Democratic candidates." Tell America that it's a media culture, not a conspiracy.

The last truth is the lesson of the John Thune senate race. Media involvement in the Dems' campaigns is something Americans sense but can't pin down. It's a fact of life that, if exposed, works wonders for Republican candidates.

Lawyers and consultants will tell you that free advice is worth what you pay for it. But they would, wouldn't they? Here are a few suggestions on how you can find the pony in this pile of macaca:

· Renounce any idea of using the power of the government against the press. The New York Times should be publicly ridiculed, not prosecuted. Remember the best lesson we can learn from Rush Limbaugh: You can do much more political damage with humor than with insults.

· Produce a series of television ads going after the "527 Media." Expose who they are and show how the typical newsroom is more like a dysfunctional, liberal family than a business run by adults.

· It's time for the Vice President to give a speech taking the press to task. He should name names. If Pinch Sulzberger wants to be a political activist instead of a publisher, why not call him on it?

· Organize a group called the Swift Veteran Reporters for the Truth. Every time one of those contrived stories comes out, make sure your team, experienced reporters all, can access the facts and get them out -- fast -- on blogs, talk radio and everywhere else.

· Get Republican congressmen and senators to write letters to their local papers and local network TV affiliates. Ask how they can pretend to be fair if they have nothing but liberals in the newsroom? Why did Clinton crony George Stephanopoulos get a big show on ABC? Culture, not conspiracy.

· Establish a media hotline for disgruntled reporters to call in about the contrived stories, connivance with the Dems and the bias they face in their newsrooms. Hire a couple of old-time conservative journalists to run it, guarantee anonymity, and then publish what the whistleblowers say.

· Get your best joke writers to study everything they can about the worst of the 527 Media and let 'em rip. I can just hear Mr. Cheney tut-tutting about the New York Times' stock collapse and comparing it to the dividends of, say, Halliburton.

All of this can (and will) be great fun for most of us but not for you. It's the most serious challenge you'll face this year and in 2008. Americans are aching for someone to take on the media and do it in a way that will relieve some of the daily stress we all feel. So Katie Couric and Brian Williams walk into a bar, and the bartender says...

Jed Babbin was a deputy undersecretary of defense in the George H.W. Bush administration. He is a contributing editor to The American Spectator and author of Showdown: Why China Wants War with the United States (with Edward Timperlake, Regnery 2006) and Inside the Asylum: Why the UN and Old Europe are Worse than You Think (Regnery 2004).

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