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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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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