The right isn't satisfied with knocking Rep. Nancy Pelosi out of the House speaker's chair and telling President Obama that they're taking away his checkbook. Now some of the most prominent conservatives in the media are calling for parity with the mainstream press corps, the group that famously revealed they favored electing Bill Clinton 12-1 over former President George H.W. Bush in a 1996 survey.
Leading the charge is Fred Barnes, executive editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, a Fox News Channel contributor, and a long-time critic of the mainstream media, dubbed "lamestream" by Sarah Palin.
"What we need to do right now is dedicate ourselves to expanding our influence and not just sitting back and complaining about the mainstream media, but infiltrating them, overtaking them and changing the American media into something that is fair and balanced, once and for all," says Barnes. He made his call to arms, appropriately enough, at a recent dinner in his honor, hosted by the feisty, conservative American Spectator. "Conservatives dominate talk radio; we do awfully well in magazines, with the American Spectator, Weekly Standard, National Review, and many others, and actually there is probably room for a lot more," he says. "With Fox News we do pretty well on television," he adds. "Fox News really has a tremendous influence."
But Barnes and some other media critics argue that the broader, more liberal media still decide the daily story and political agenda, so he's calling for a two-pronged war. One goal is to develop conservative reporters. "We need more smart, young people in journalism," he argues, "to infiltrate—infiltrate!—the mainstream media. It can be done."
Then he wants wealthy conservatives to build media outlets. Citing the millions of dollars thrown at political campaigns, he says "there is a lot of money out there that can be used to start new magazines, to buy television networks, to buy newspapers, to start newspapers—so much can be done."
Allies like Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center say the right also has to keep up with the left's push on the Internet. "The radical left has a decided advantage thanks to tens of millions . . . committed by its benefactors. Conservatives had better respond or the left will win—big," Bozell warns.