I am glad that ED’s argument is not that good conservative journalism does exist, but that it might conceivably exist, sort of like life on Mars. He writes that:
I suppose what I was talking about was better conservative analysis and opinion, rooted firmly in facts and evidence.
If it was rooted in facts and evidence, it would no longer be called conservative. It’s like asking for a great journeyman relief pitcher; if he was great, they wouldn’t call him a journeyman. Don’t get me wrong, Daily Caller may occasionally produce a decent article, just as a journeyman relief pitcher might have a decent outing, but these will just fill in the gaps between attempted rapes of CNN anchorwomen, Jim Treacher’s humor, etc.
I might have been wrong to say that journalism was liberal, it’s more accurate to say that it’s not conservative. I don’t claim that liberals love to engage with reality, merely that they avoid it less than conservatives do. It’s a fine point anyway — in today’s world, if you’re not conservative then you’re a liberal. You’re with them or you’re against them.
Facts follow philosophical statements within conservatism. A mainstream conservative believes Reagan was right and that tax cuts are therefore always good. A real winger believes that Bush was right and that therefore the Iraq War was a success. A would be intellectual conservative believes that Burke was right and that health care reform is predestined to fail.
I’m not saying there aren’t gradations. A mainstream conservative ignores reality (Reagan never raised taxes!), a true winger invents his own (there were WMD in Iraq!), a would be intellectual attempts to integrate pseudo-factual material into his arguments (an AEI scholar has a long article in National Affairs about the effectiveness of school vouchers).
Global warming is a good example. A mainstream conservative admits the world may be getting warmer but says it’s not because of humans, a real winger says it’s not getting warmer at all, a would be intellectual says that an AEI scholar has a long article in National Affairs about the ineffectiveness of cap-and-trade. In the end, they all agree that nothing should be done, and that Al Gore is fat. They don’t like the idea of government action on climate change and they find some reason to argue against it.
It’s the same with health care reform. In order: our system needs a fix but the government shouldn’t be the one to do it, our system is the best in the world(!), an AEI scholar has a long article in National Affairs about the ineffectiveness of the public option. They don’t like the idea of government action on health care and they find some reason to argue against it
I realize there are a few “conservative” commentators who aren’t exactly like this. Daniel Larison describes himself as conservative but never agrees with anything Republicans want to do. Conor Friedersdorf describes himself as conservative and is constantly disappointed that Newt Gingrich is not quite as serious as Conor thought he was. What does that prove? It proves that the few reality-based conservative commentators out there aren’t really conservatives at all.
That’s hardly an argument in favor of the theoretical existence of quality conservative journalism.