Media ignore protesters

It’s impossible to completely ignore the issues and concerns that occupy our every waking moment the rest of the year, but I try. In Wyoming, Idaho or Montana, I chase trout and talk to people who neither know nor care what “reconciliation” or “filling the tree” mean.

A few speeches eased me back toward Washington but prevented me from being in town for the weekend protests against the Obama administration’s drive to “reform” our healthcare system and spend our great-grandchildren’s money. Waiting for my plane, I wondered how many people had shown up, how the protests had gone and how the whole thing was being treated by what we conservatives are prone to call “the mainstream media.”

With great reluctance I shelled out a good bit more than one should have to pay for any paper for a copy of the Sunday New York Times. There was a front-page photo of the protesters and a promise of full coverage “on page 37.”

I sat down with a cup of coffee to wait for my flight and catch up on what had been going on in Washington.

I turned to page 37 for the promised article, but couldn’t find it. I went back to the front page to make sure that was where it was supposed to be, then back again to look for it. I read everything on page 37, but found nothing about the Washington protests. I went through the rest of the paper. Nada!

It wouldn’t have surprised me if the Times had simply ignored Americans with whom the paper’s editors disagreed, but this was worse. It reminded me once again of why conservatives look for news coverage elsewhere.

The protests had been massive, the protesters well-behaved. The Washington Post and other mainstream media outlets emulated but didn’t go quite as far as the Times in looking the other way. While tens of thousands of Americans from all walks of life came to their nation’s capital to let their elected leaders know how strongly they feel about policies they believe to be wrong-headed and dangerous, the mainstream media, as exemplified by the Times, did what they like to do when they’re not attacking conservatives: They ignored them.

The politically active may have to read these papers, but many others don’t bother anymore because, well, they just don’t find them very credible.

The last time I found myself in Montana, I saw an ad for a home and some acreage for sale up in the mountains “off the grid.” This means its owners couldn’t just hook up to an electrical utility, gas or telephone line and are, in effect, on their own.

I decided to drive up just to see how folks cope under such circumstances. What I found was a very nice home that relied on wind and solar power with a backup diesel generator and a satellite hookup, giving the couple living there access to telephone, television and the Internet. In other words, the man and wife (who turned out to be Bethesda refugees) were doing just fine.

They had worked in Washington, but a dozen years ago decided they’d had all they could take of the area’s traffic and obsessive political bickering that seemed so important to their friends, co-workers and neighbors. They escaped by heading west.

The lady of the house said they loved their life on the mountain, but they’d decided to be closer to the medical facilities they might one day need. “Besides,” she added, “I think we were happier before we were able to get satellite service out here. Back then you could go for weeks or even months without reading a newspaper or watching a television news program, and when you finally did, you realized you shouldn’t have bothered.”

That’s how I felt about Sunday’s Times.

Keene is chairman of the American Conservative Union and a managing associate with the Carmen Group, a Washington-based governmental
consulting firm.