How Your Right-Wing Talking Point Sausage Is Made

Here are some helpful looks at how the Right Wing Message Machine works: The Washington Post explains how Ed Meese and Michelle Malkin coordinate their messages, and Glenn Thrush tracks a talking point as it goes from blogger to congressman.

Basically, the right-wing is "winning" the "information war" by being disciplined and completely shameless, but what else is new?

Do you want to know exactly how it works? This is basically exactly how it works:

"There is no conservative cabal, where the talk-radio guys get together with the Internet guys, who get together with the Fox News guys, who get together with a Wizard of Oz behind the curtain, and the talking points go out," said Mark Levin, a leading conservative talk-radio host.

Keep in mind that when Levin says "there is no" he means "there is a." Seriously, all of those "guys" literally do get together, often at Grover Norquist's weekly breakfast, or at various other coordinated meetings of bloggers and right-wing editors and writers and columnists hosted by the Heritage Foundation and the Family Research Council and a couple other groups that are actually the Wizards of Oz that Levin is claiming don't exist. And the Tea Party people don't like you to mention this (not because it renders their movement illegitimate but because it would turn off the people they are trying to appeal to who really do dislike the Republican party), but they are the well-funded activist arm of the Republican party establishment as it has existed since the Reagan era.

"The Conservative Action Project," headed by Reagan attorney general Ed Meese, is a group of pollsters and public relations firm executives who craft the message for the party faithful. Their memos have a funny way of ending up in the talking points of Republican lawmakers and conservative bloggers alike:

CAP also worked unsuccessfully to defeat David F. Hamilton, Obama's first appellate judicial nominee. A Nov. 9 CAP memo calling Hamilton "an ideologue first and a jurist second" helped trigger blog blasts from Erickson and an anti-Hamilton speech at the conservative Federalist Society by Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Judiciary Committee Republican.

Now, this is the point of Think Tanks: to produce thoughts. But "liberal" Think Tanks tend to come up with ideas for "governing" the "country."* These guys, CAP and AEI and CEI and the Council for National Policy and the State Policy Network, they exist to relentlessly craft and refine messages to win news cycles and elections. (To be fair, all of their ideas for governing have been thoroughly discredited, and coming up with new ones is pretty hard!)

And in The Politico (which is sometimes an important part of the right-wing message machine, because of their tendency to happily pass on Republican spin as "news" or "analysis"), Glenn Thrush shows us how a completely nonsensical line of attack against David Axelrod, which was invented on the fly by a Weekly Standard blogger, ended up as a Tweet from Representative Pete Hoekstra.

If you were surprised when the Tea Party thing blew up, or the Town Hall thing happened, or by any of your favorite distractions from last year, you should probably try to get on that CAP memo list!

* To be fair (which we have to try to be because we are stupid, stupid liberals) John Podesta's Center for American Progress aims to be a Heritage Foundation for the Left, and they do have a daily email blast (that we don't get!), but the point is that liberals do not fall in lockstep behind whatever is in that email blast. This morning's Official CAP Liberal Talking Points are not repeated endlessly by CAP's own bloggers and then picked up by Mother Jones' bloggers and Krugman and HuffPo and then Keith and Rachel don't hammer the point over and over again over the course of a week and those points do not finally find their way to a statement on the floor of the Senate by Al Franken. Instead liberals just sort of muddle around coming up with many conflicting ideas and fighting with each other over how to implement them. It's fun! Maybe we shouldn't be in charge of governing anything?