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  • Writer's pictureJeff Matthews

Freedom’s Just Another Word For “Thinks Like Us”

Easily the weakest link in the Wall Street Journal’s Op-Ed page is Thomas Frank, who also happens to be the Journal’s token liberal.

To be sure, at least one of Frank’s political opposites at the Journal writes about as much nonsense as Frank—particularly on the subject of fiscal responsibility. That would be Karl Rove, who encouraged his Presidential boss to ignore fiscal responsibility for eight long years, and yet now has the nerve to complain about what those eight years are bringing us.

But Rove is at least intelligent and writes well, even if you spit out your coffee reading his stuff.

Thomas Frank, on the other hand (not to be confused with Frank Thomas, the White Sox’s lifetime .300 hitter, deservedly known as “The Big Hurt”), writes with such ham-handed wordsmithing it’s hard to grasp how he became the Wall Street Journal’s liberal conscience, except as part of a plot by Rupert Murdoch to undermine Frank’s fellow left-wingers by presenting as inarticulate a representative as he could find.

Here, for example, is how Frank began his most recent editorial effort, called “Obama Is Right About Fox News”:

Journalism has a special, hallowed place for stories of its practitioners’ persecution. There is no higher claim to journalistic integrity than going to jail to protect a source. And the Newseum in Washington, D.C., establishes the profession’s legitimacy with a memorial to fallen scribes, thus drawing an implicit connection between the murdered abolitionist editors of long ago and the struggling outfit that gave you this morning’s page-one story about cute pets in Halloween costumes….


Frank should have studied his rock music history—in particular what John Lennon said to David Bowie, when Bowie asked the ex-Beatle how to write a song: “Say what you mean, make it rhyme, and give it a backbeat.”

Lennon’s simple, precise advice applies to writing just about anything, but unfortunately Frank’s first paragraph accomplishes none of those three things, while the remaining ten paragraphs of “Obama is Right” aren’t a whole lot better.

Indeed, when Frank finally does say what he means—i.e. that Obama’s black-listing of Fox News was merited—he does so in the slightly unhinged manner of a Hugo Chavez or a Fidel Castro, or the revolutionary in Woody Allen’s “Banana’s.”

To wit, he calls Fox “a grand electronic homage to the Nixonian spirit,” then attacks the CEO of Fox for long-ago offenses, then complains that that Fox once “impugned the motives of the New York Times” (and we’re not making that one up).

But something else Frank says goes beyond the typical knee-jerk defense of Obama’s Fox freeze-out.

Way beyond it.

Frank sums up his case with a statement more chilling than anything out of the Chavez/Castro/Banana’s playbook. In fact, if you really think about it—something Frank himself likely didn’t—he makes a statement out of the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad playbook:

To point out that this network is different, that it is intensely politicized, that it inhabits an alternate reality defined by an imaginary conflict between noble heartland patriots and devious liberals—to be aware of these things is not the act of a scheming dictatorial personality. It is the obvious conclusion drawn by anybody with eyes and ears.

Now, you may agree with Obama’s White House that Fox News is “a wing of the Republican Party.”

And you may believe it is no skin off anybody’s nose for the White House to snub Fox News.

And you are perfectly within your rights to put aside what Psych 101 grads will recall as “cognitive dissonance” by ignoring the obvious fact—obvious to anybody, as Frank would say, “with eyes and ears”—that MSNBC is no less biased to the left than Fox is to the right.

But whatever your personal political persuasion might be, just think about what Frank is really doing here. What he is really doing is saying that because Fox News “is different,” it is okay to discriminate against “this network.”

Just replace the words “this network” with “this African-American” or “this Native American” or “this female,” or any other category in the Census form that American law has at one time or another considered “different,” and the slippery slope in Frank’s brand of logic is self-evident.

Indeed, substitute the word “this Zionist regime” for “this network,” and you can almost hear a bearded whack-job who runs an emerging nuclear nation riffing on the “myth” of the holocaust and why Israel should be “wiped off the map.”

But Frank, not being the sharpest blade in the left-wing drawer, doesn’t grasp the slippery slope he has endorsed one bit. In fact, the only regret he admits to is not in Obama’s freeze-out itself…it’s that he wished the White House “had taken on Fox News with a little more skill.”

Now, freedom of the press is not, to quote Kris Kristofferson, “just another word.” It’s the whole deal. And we can’t help but think that the Obama White House, with the cooperation of the other networks and journalists like Thomas Frank, has just made the American press a little less free.

Left-wingers who chortle at the snub might pause long enough to recall how a few years back their right-wing counterparts chortled at Don Rumsfeld’s freeze-out of “Old Europe”—as he slyly styled France and a few other countries that refused to jump on the Iraq bandwagon. Oh, it was fun for the right-wingers, and it felt good for a while…and then it came back to haunt old “Rummy” and his boss, and their country.

So before chortling too long, think about that, and then ask yourself who’s next? Who else is “different”?

When the anti-Obama gets elected, in 2012 or 2016 or 2020 or whenever, and refuses to deal with MSNBC or ABC or all of ‘em, because they’re “different,” the anti-Obama can rightly tell the outraged Thomas Franks of the world that he himself gave permission for the suppression of whatever is “different” in the United States of America.

Freedom—to paraphrase the famous song—is now just another word for “thinks like us.”

Wonder how Frank would feel if the Wall Street Journal kicked him off the Op-Ed page because he’s “different”?

Nah, he’s too useful!

Jeff Matthews I Am Not Making This Up

© 2009 NotMakingThisUp, LLC

The content contained in this blog represents only the opinions of Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews also acts as an advisor and clients advised by Mr. Matthews may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog based upon Mr. Matthews’ recommendations. This commentary in no way constitutes investment advice, and should never be relied on in making an investment decision, ever. Also, this blog is not a solicitation of business by Mr. Matthews: all inquiries will be ignored. The content herein is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author.

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