As a microcosmic analysis of movement conservatism and the media that feed it, this Politico interview with Piers Morgan, regarding his disturbingly one-sided discussion with "shock jock" Alex Jones last night (video here), is irresistible.
I'm not much of a Piers Morgan fan, in fact I've never seen his CNN program, I've only read some of his rather lightweight commentary. Yet his comments to Politico raise some profound questions about the relationship between fringe pseudoconservatism and ratings-driven media. "Sometimes it's better to let somebody have the rope they need to tie themselves in knots," said Morgan, adding, "I knew what we were going to be getting into with him."
Of that, I've little doubt. And I've even less doubt that Morgan's ratings tonight--post-freakshow--will be higher than ever.
Whenever I read remarks such as Morgan's, or by whatever misfortune happen to see some abominable embarrassment of its kind on cable "news," I am reminded of Herbert Marcuse's wonderful phrase (in a supremely controversial 1965 essay): "The toleration of the systematic moronization of children and adults alike by publicity and propaganda...."
Which is how movement conservatism came to be--and what keeps it going.