The piling on has begun. Last week Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz broke a front page story about CBS anchor Dan Rather's speech at a Democratic Party fund-raiser in Texas. Considering that Rather is, as Kurtz puts it, "the longest-serving and most outspoken of the major network news anchors," this has, of course, thrown the right into a tizzy about liberal media bias. It certainly doesn't hurt that those who have long claimed Rather transparently favors Democrats now get to skywrite "I told you so."
As the chattering begins over George W. Bush's upcoming judicial appointments, much attention has been devoted to the so-called Federalist Society, the rightist legal organization that has been recommending candidates. Launched two decades ago by a clutch of conservative law students -- including current Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham -- the Society has since colonized Washington power circles as well as numerous federal benches nationwide. Under Bush, this trend will likely accelerate.
The media bashing is starting to get unnerving. Apparently it's not just conservative mudslingers like Michelle Malkin: Yesterday the Los Angeles Times reported that though the public antagonism hasn't yet attained Vietnam-era levels, "'treasonous' and 'traitor' are words aimed at the news media with increasing frequency these days." Each time newspaper correspondents file I-was-there pieces from the ground in Afghanistan, it seems, they get angry letters threatening that they're putting U.S. troops at risk.
Post September 11 flying-off-the-handle has already derailed the career of one previously unaccountable female GOP pundit -- Ann Coulter. In an apparent fit of rage, Coulter infamously wrote of those celebrating the World Trade Center attacks abroad: "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." The comment eventually resulted in her column being dropped by the mainstream conservative clearinghouse National Review Online -- proof to many that she had finally gone too far. (Though if you consider Coulter's career in all its fullness, the crusader remark actually doesn't seem so entirely unprecedented.)