David Letterman
The intense public reaction against David Letterman’s attack on Sarah Palin’s family shows an increasingly strong public anger toward the mainstream media.

The continuing fallout from David Letterman’s asinine and repugnant joke about one of Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s daughters and a major league baseball player has had Letterman very much on the defensive and clearly surprised by all the fuss.

Having apparently expected that the public would be very much on his side when he attacked an entirely innocent family member of what he clearly saw as a political figure thoroughly hated by everyone who could possibly matter, Letterman was blindsided by the vehement, angry protests outside his TV studio and the CBS offices, in which the protesters called for him to be fired. Thus Letterman apologized a couple more times this week, after his initial response of last week–in which he tried to characterize himself as unfairly misunderstood–was rebuffed.

None of that sat well with the protesters. In a rather delicious irony, they attacked Letterman on liberal, feminist grounds, saying his attack on Palin and her daughter was an attack on women in general. That is an argument a classical liberal such as I would never endorse (and which in fact I oppose), but it was delightful to see the socialist Letterman hoist by his own political petard.

Ironically, Letterman’s ratings rose after the June 8 show aired with the offending joke, but he still failed to beat NBC"s Tonight Show for overall viewership on the week.

On Tuesday night, Letterman apologized again and was clearly unnerved throughout the show, squirming visibly at times, suggesting to this observer that he was indeed worried that his position at CBS was indeed becoming a bit precarious. In a dreary interview with actress Michelle Pfeiffer, the aging comic appeared to be straining to prove that he doesn’t hate women in general, clearly making a strong effort to compliment her, refrain from interrupting her, and generally act like a normal human being.

This seemed rather silly, given that no one has accused Letterman of being too rough on attractive blonde female movie stars. Whatever Pfeiffer’s politics, his treatment of her and others of her class has never been in question.

What was in question was the arrogance of the media and entertainment industries in foisting their opinions on an increasingly restive public. As a recent Gallup Poll noted, a solid plurality of Americans now say that they’re conservatives, a three percentage point rise in just the past year. Moderates come in second, and self-described liberals trail badly.

Here’s the interesting graph:

Gallup poll graph of U.S. political identification, 1992-2009

That’s a pretty impressive rise in support for conservatism, which suggests two conclusions in the present case.

One, having finally expelled the poison of the George W. Bush government spending increases and his administration’s other misdeeds, conservatism makes a good deal more sense to people today and is significantly more attractive. The current runaway train toward socialism that the Obama administration and Democrat Congress seem to have us all riding makes Bushism look almost reasonable by comparison.

Two, the constant efforts of mainstream media journalists and the entertainment industry to lie, cheat, distort, suborn, dissemble, bully, and intimidate in pressing their agenda of transforming the United States into a socialist utopia and to demonize all of those who in any way stand in the way of that goal have backfired. While right-wing critics continue to complain about rampant media bias, the public seems increasingly immune to the media’s propaganda war. Public opinion seems to be influenced much more by politicians’ actions than by the media’s obviously biased characterizations of things.

That’s undoubtedly a big reason the public has abandoned the mainstream media in an astonishingly big and rapid exodus to alternatives on the Internet.

With more of the public identifying themselves explicitly as conservatives, opposing the media’s false consensus on anthroprogenic global warming alarmism, worried about government making the health care system even worse, and other such opinion trends, it’s clear that the Lettermans of the world have a lot to worry about. That ought to make the rest of us very happy indeed.

S. T. Karnick