The Noise Machine Revisited

| Sat Dec. 11, 2010 12:43 PM EST

On Thursday, Republicans filibustered a bill to create a $7 billion fund for 9/11 first responders who are experiencing health problems as a result of their work. Eric Boehlert is unhappy with the press coverage:

The fact that the 9/11-related legislation was defeated was news. Period. The fact that it was defeated as part of the larger Republican strategy to tie the Senate in knots made yesterday's vote even more newsworthy. But not at ABC, CBS or NBC. Last night, all three evening newscasts failed to report on the fact that Republicans had voted down a previously bipartisan bill designed to provide medical coverage for Sept. 11 emergency workers. At the major networks, that development was not considered newsworthy.

This is a pretty good demonstration of the difference between the liberal and conservative media machines. The reason the networks didn't bother reporting this is because everyone knew from the start that Republicans weren't going to vote for the 9/11 bill before the tax deal had cleared the Senate, so bringing it up for a vote was just political theater. And the evening newscasts don't generally cover that kind of stuff.

So why do they often cover it when the shoe is on the other foot? Because conservatives have the ability to turn political theater into real news. Once the Rush/Drudge/Fox machine gets rolling, there's genuine outrage all over the country. And that's what eventually gets reported.

For better or worse, liberals don't have this. In the case of the 9/11 bill, there was no ginned up outrage around the country, no tea party rallies, no congressional switchboard meltdowns, no sense that wow, people are really upset about this. The basic news may be the same when both sides do this, but the megaphone is completely different.