This Week in Progressive and Liberal Media
It has become iconic—the photo on the front page of The Wall Street Journal this week of Elena Kagan playing softball—and for all the wrong reasons.
As Politico’s Ben Smith wrote, “A spokeswoman for the Wall Street Journal said today its cover art was not intended as innuendo about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's sexual orientation after the paper's front page use of an image of Kagan playing softball provoked a mixture of irritation and amusement from gay and lesbian advocates.”
The discussion of her sexuality and the attack on the photo choice lasted all week, in both the conservative and liberal media. That, according to media strategist and trainer Joel Silberman, recently profiled in The American Prospect, was exactly the plan.
“This was dominance and control of the media narrative. The networks and other media played right into Rupert Murdoch and his editorial board’s hand,” says Silberman. The liberal media, he says, fell for “innuendo journalism” and let it carry into several news cycles.
Stephen Colbert laughed it off, jokingly calling the photo and what it implies “great journalism” on Murdoch's part.
But running that softball photo, and knowing the chatter that would follow it, says Silberman, “is the equivalent of asking someone publicly ‘when did you stop beating your wife?’” The person defending himself constantly has his name associated with wife beating, explains Silberman, much the same way as viewers and readers have now spent several days hearing the words “Kagan” and “sexuality” in the same sentence, whether from the lips of Joe Scarborough or the pages of our own Newsweek to overseas at the Guardian.
“The very denial advances the frame. This is what the people who want to control the media narrative know,” says Silberman. “Media creates a perception. Perception repeated creates conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom repeated becomes accepted truth.”