CBS on the “Group of Weirdos” Who Ran the GOP House

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When liberals complain about the conservative bias of the media, they often invoke clichés such as “serving corporate ownership” or “putting profit ahead of truth.” And while there are elements of truth to the clichés, a much bigger factor in journalists’ deference to power is civility. As CBSNews.com’s editorial director, Dick Meyer, put it in this decidedly impolite column, “the media didn’t call a duck a duck, because that’s not something we’re supposed to do.”

The “duck” in this case is the “group of weirdos” who ran the House of Representatives for the past 12 years. Just in time for Thanksgiving, Meyer roasts a few ducks of his own: Newt Gingrich is called out for having “lived out a very special hypocrisy” which he did with “epic sanctimony.” And Dan Burton, Robert Livingston, Henry Hyde, and Dennis Hastert all get served with a side of good riddance. Here is Meyer’s surprisingly candid appraisal of the architects of the Contract With America:

The iconic figures of this era were Newt Gingrich, Richard Armey and Tom Delay. They were zealous advocates of free markets, low taxes and the pursuit of wealth; they were hawks and often bellicose; they were brutal critics of big government.

Yet none of these guys had success in capitalism. None made any real money before coming to Congress. None of them spent a day in uniform. And they all spent the bulk of their adult careers getting paychecks from the big government they claimed to despise. Two resigned in disgrace.

Meyer begins his column with an apology: “This is a story I should have written 12 years ago when the “Contract with America” Republicans captured the House in 1994. I apologize.”

That’s okay, Dick. Others did write those stories. Your complimentary copies of impolite and unapologetic Mother Jones issues from a decade ago are on their way.

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This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

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