Remembering “Gravitas”

by PAUL HOLLRAH July 28, 2010
In a July 22 op-ed column for the Wall Street Journal, titled, “The Vast Left-Wing Media Conspiracy,” Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes responded to reports that he had been targeted for a “racist” smear by liberal journalists during the 2008 General Election. 
 
In a series of reports by conservative commentator Tucker Carlson of the Daily Caller, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent is quoted as saying, “If the right forces us all to either defend (Barack Obama’s pastor Jeremiah) Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they’ve put upon us. Instead, take one of them… Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares… and call them ‘racists.’ This makes them ‘sputter’ with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction.”
Ackerman went on to say, “What is necessary is to raise the cost on the right of going after the left. In other words, find a right winger’s [sic] and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mess and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constant fear… ”
 
This leftist rant, frighteningly suggestive of the Nazis’ Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), in which Hitler’s brownshirts smashed the windows of Jewish-owned shops and businesses all across Germany, was presented for consideration by members of an Internet listserv called JournoList, comprised of some 400 liberal journalists, academics, and think-tank propagandists assembled by Washington Post writer Ezra Klein.
 
As an indicator of the level of hatred that is the norm for this conglomeration of leftist thinkers and writers who, taken together, represent the moral center of the progressive movement, Sarah Spitz, a National Public Radio producer, shocked even herself by the level of hatred she harbors for Rush Limbaugh.  She said in an email that she would, “Laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out” as he writhed in torment from a heart attack.  “I never knew I had such hate in me,” she wrote. “But he deserves it.”
 
Having spent the last thirty-one years of his career in Washington, Barnes is obviously far too sanguine about the existence of a left wing cabal whose sole purpose is to plan and circulate the latest anti-conservative, anti-Republican mantra or “buzz phrase.” Perhaps Barnes lives too close to the forest to see the trees. Anyone with access to print media and network television over the last half century would know, instinctively, that such a cabal exists. The selection of news stories covered by the mainstream media and the slant with which they are reported simply cannot be the result of coincidence. 
 
If ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC all cover a major Taliban offensive in Afghanistan, a Palestinian missile attack on an Israeli village, a press conference with Governor Jan Brewer in Arizona, oil spill cleanup activity on the beaches of Florida, and the trial of a corrupt Democratic former governor in Illinois, that would be understandable. But when all of those networks also run a story about a Chicano street demonstration in Boulder, Colorado and a pro-life demonstration outside an abortion clinic in rural Florida, that should be a tipoff that there’s more than a bit of collaboration going on. 
 
I have often been asked why those who are politically liberal tend to flock to the journalism profession. There is no good answer for that question, just as there is no good answer to the question of why such a high percentage of our best doctors and lawyers are members of the Jewish faith. My friend, Ted Kavanau, former senior executive producer for CNN and CNN Headline News, has ventured an opinion on why the most radical of academics come mainly from the departments of English, fine arts, and other social sciences… including, presumably, the faculties of essentially every school of journalism. 
 
Kavanau suggests that, “What is unspoken among them is that they have great doubt, even a sense of inferiority, about the value of what they have to offer,” compared to the theoretical sciences such as medicine, engineering, etc. Kavanau goes on to explain, “So they elevate their importance (to themselves as well as to their students) by assuming possession (of) a ‘special knowledge’ which overlays what they are otherwise supposed to be teaching. That supposed ‘special knowledge’ of man and how the world should be ordered gives them their needed justification and is reinforced by the same beliefs among their peers. It is what helps produce the radicalized army of students they graduate into society.”
 
Although I have no direct evidence of how it’s done… I’ve never been invited to attend one of their meetings… I remain convinced that there is political coordination among leftists in the U.S. that transcends all ethical and professional boundaries. Those who participate represent the Democratic Party, the Democratic leadership of the House and Senate, the NAACP, the AFL-CIO, the UAW, AARP, the teachers unions, radical environmentalists, trial lawyers, gays, lesbians, and more than likely a few selected members of JournoList. 
 
And lest anyone should suggest that a similar conspiracy exists on the political right, as the corporate public affairs executive who pioneered the corporate PAC movement throughout the U.S. business community beginning in the mid-1970s, I expect that I would have been one of the first to know if such a process existed among conservative and Republican interests. Although I have participated in countless Washington briefings on the status of individual House and Senate campaigns, not once did the participants in those briefings discuss ways in which the business community could work in concert to defeat any particular candidate.
 
In addressing the existence of a conservative/Republican conspiracy similar to JournoList, Fred Barnes suggests, “If there’s a (conservative/Republican) team, no one has asked me to join. As a conservative, I normally write more favorably about Republicans than Democrats and I routinely treat conservative ideas as superior to liberal ones. But I’ve never been part of a discussion with conservative writers about how we could most help the Republican or the conservative team.”
 
Barnes goes on to say, “My experience with other conservative journalists is that they are loners. One of the most famous conservative columnists of the past half-century, the late Robert Novak, is a good example. I knew him well for 35 years. He didn’t tell me what stories he was working on nor ask what I was planning to write…”
 
Conversely, I can think of no better proof of such a conspiracy on the left than to describe what happened on July 26, 2000, the day after George W. Bush announced that his running mate in the coming General Election would be former White House Chief of Staff and former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney. 
 
It was on that day that my brother-in-law in Missouri, along with some 15.3 million other blue collar and public employee union members across the country… all of whom gain their political knowledge and their marching orders from daily briefings by their union representatives… began complaining that the real reason Cheney was selected was because George W. Bush lacked… that’s right, you’ve got it… gravitas.
 
Once it was decided to use the gravitas issue against George W. Bush, it took less than twenty-four hours for the cabal in Washington to pass the word down the line to every Democrat in Congress, their staffs, to the left wing sycophants of the mainstream media, to the leaders of the NAACP and their local chapters, to the locals of every public sector and private sector labor union, to every AARP chapter, to every unionized public school teacher, and to every trial lawyer, gay activist, and radical environmentalist in the country. 
 
Although “gravitas” is a Latin word that few Americans had ever heard used in any context before July 27, 2000, it became a household word in liberal and Democratic circles across the country in less than forty-eight hours. And while it might be assumed that to make an impact of that magnitude on the public consciousness in such a short time span would be a very difficult and expensive proposition, it is not difficult or expensive for liberals and Democrats because of their unholy alliance with left-leaning journalists such as those found in the ranks of JournoList.
   
Yes, all of those brain-dead union lemmings, few of whom had ever studied a foreign language or uttered an uncommon foreign word in conversation, were suddenly struck by a deep concern that the fate of the western world hung in the balance because George W. Bush lacked… GRAVITAS!  
 
Throughout Bill Clinton’s second term, when liberals and Democrats wished to divert attention away from Clinton’s use of the Oval Office for illicit sex games, they all spoke as with a single voice, saying, “It’s time to move on!” And now, with the most racially divisive administration ever to occupy the Oval Office, we are beginning to hear the voices on the left using the “racist” epithet to keep conservatives and Republicans from using the failed Obama policies against Democrats.
 
What is important to remember is that the mantras and “buzz phrases” coined by liberals and Democrats are not to be taken seriously. Just remember where “gravitas” came from.
 
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributor Paul Hollrah is a Senior Fellow at the Lincoln Heritage Institute.

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