Conservatives Hail New Media Influence

By Fred Lucas | July 7, 2008 | 8:06 PM EDT


(Correction: Changes reference to Texas A&M University to Southern Methodist University in the 12th paragraph.)

(CNSNews.com) - When Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) spoke at Pasadena College last fall only one California newscast initially carried his remark that if young people aren't properly educated they could "get stuck in Iraq."

Baffled by the Kerry comment and lack of interest by most other media, radio talk show host John Ziegler played it on his program on KFI in Los Angeles over and over.

"I predicted my audience would be one of the few to ever hear this," Ziegler recalled Friday, during a forum on new media at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

But when Michelle Malkin's blog picked up the comment and then the Drudge Report, "I knew the story was going nuclear."

The story about Kerry's comment made cable news, and eventually Kerry apologized. Some analysts believe the gaffe may have contributed to the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee's decision not to run again in 2008.

"It never would have happened in the old media age," Ziegler told the CPAC audience.

Talk radio and the Internet have broken the information monopoly of the big three networks and major newspapers, which conservatives have long contended lean to the left. Even more, these mediums increasingly affect what the mainstream media report on.

"It's a symbiotic relationship," said Erick Erickson of the blog RedState.org. "Bloggers need the media to have stuff to report on, and the media need bloggers to have stuff to report on."

When RedState began in 2004, members of Congress didn't return phone calls. Now, Erickson said, "they are beating down the door" to be quoted on the site.

"Blogs help get the word out," he said. "They bypass the media, and keep stories alive that fall off the media."

Another front is that of conservative alternative newspapers at college campuses, said James O'Keefe of the Leadership Institute. The institute has helped start more than 100 college papers across the country, O'Keefe said, focusing on political correctness run amok and exposing left-wing faculty and administrators.

The college newspapers have reported on such issues as faculty at Southern Methodist University opposing the building of a George W. Bush presidential library on the campus and pregnancy counselors at the University of California Los Angeles pushing women to have abortions instead of offering objective advice.

"These newspapers are a means to an end, not just to get coverage, but to actually change their campus," O'Keefe said.

Ultimately, the new media has amplified voices for more people, said Matt Sheffield of NewsBusters.org, the blog of the Media Research Center, the parent organization of Cybercast News Service.

"There's the old expression: Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel," he said, citing the adage warning politicians not to battle the press.

"The Internet has brought that power to the average person with little resources and or small groups," Sheffield said.

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