The Collective
Thursday, February 5, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Conor Friedersdorf, writing at The American Scence, asks What Exactly Does PJTV Do Well?, which is an interesting question for a couple of reasons.

The first is that the PJ Media recently shut-down its blogger-based advertising network for the stated purpose of concentrating on its web video output.

The second is that PJM is clearly attempting to be something of a web voice of The Right in a way that underscores what personally see as part and parcel of the kinds of problems that the broad American Right, including the Republican Party, are currently suffering under.

An example of this: the continued usage of Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher as a correspondent. Joe’s latest foray into the world of “reporting” comes in the form of trips to various Right-leaning think tanks, wherein he proclaimed the following:

Today I had one briefing, and that was at the Club for Growth, I spoke to Andy Roth. Now yesterday, I talked to the Heritage Foundation. I actually had the chance to talk to the Cato Institute as well, I guess you could call it a briefing, it was more of an interview. But all these bipartisan, or if you will neutral, think tanks are pretty much saying the same things. Say no to this bill, it will devastate America.

To which Friederdorf rightly responds:

Are PJTV viewers well served by that description of the aforementioned think tanks? That they are “neutral” observers of the biggest economic policy bill in a generation? Is PJTV well served by employing — as its Washington correspondent — a guy who either doesn’t realize Heritage describes itself as a conservative outfit, or else is willing to lie about that fact? Can the PJTV audience assume that its economic policy reporting is going to consist of an average Joe visiting Cato and reporting whatever they say as fact?

I say that this is a symptom of what is ailing the Right and the GOP as it is clear that this sort of thing, fraudulent as it is, is appealing to a lot of self-described conservatives. First there is the current foray into an odd populism via an “average Joe” (which also manifests in support for Sarah Palin). Second there is this desire (which is not limited to the conservative side of things, but does seem more pronounced there in recent years) of wanting not to hear the whole story, but rather to only have their own version of reality confirmed back to them. On this latter point a commenter at TAS is correct:

At the risk of over-generalizing, I think this reflects a real problem with the Right and new media: message discipline and top-down control take precedence over real dialogue.

And really, this is a hard point to dismiss easily, as all one has to do is cite Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and a myriad host of others to bolster the point.

The really ironic part of Joe’s report from Heritage, Cato, et al. is that if one listens to what Joe says right after the paragraph transcribed above, he noted what “super brainiacs” and “very smart” guys (around 1:20 on the video) work at these think tanks, so we should listen to what they have to say. That is nothing more that an appeal to the elites (which really isn’t that different than what he said about the war in Israel–that no one should question what was being done). As such, for someone using populistic tactics, he sure does like the elites.

I continue to be amazed that PJM and other continue to treat Joe the Plumber seriously. Certainly in the video linked above, Roger Simon is treating him as legitimate, as does a representative from the Club for Growth. In another video, Michelle Malkin and Glenn Reynolds spend 21 minutes talking to the guy on the same topic. In regards to Reynolds, I guess that the money at PJM must be good, because stuff like this hardly bolsters his position as an public intellectual/intelligent commentator on politics.

How any of this serves the short (or long) term policy debate is beyond me. I suppose it may entertain some people, but it hardly improves governance nor will it aid the GOP in its quest to improve its electoral position.

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One Response to “PJTV Continues to use Joe the Plumber”

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    1. Barry Says:

      “In regards to Reynolds, I guess that the money at PJM must be good, because stuff like this hardly bolsters his position as an public intellectual/intelligent commentator on politics.”

      Reynolds sold his reputation (assuming that he ever had one) as ‘an public intellectual/intelligent commentator on politics’ years ago, and has clearly never looked back.

      Why should he? He went from being a nobody professor at a schmuck law school to a person with a large audience, who gets on TV. And all in a situation where being correct has nothing to do with success.

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