Today's you-gotta-be-kidding-me moment comes courtesy of the right-wing Heritage Foundation, which claims that the mass media are all so hopelessly liberal that its only option is to start its own website offering "just true, straight-down-the-middle journalism."
If you hear echoes of Fox News's "fair and balanced" claim in this claim uttered by Heritage executive Geoffrey Lysaught, it's probably no accident. The new site, to be called the Daily Signal (not to be confused with conservative Tucker Carlson's sad Daily Caller), will start June 3. The Signal's editor in chief will be Robert Bluey, who has been Heritage's "liaison to conservative bloggers" and editor of Human Events, a reliably conservative news website, and managing editor of its "venerable print edition, Human Events."
The first question this announcement raises is whether the Heritage Foundation is remotely capable of producing "straight-down-the-middle" journalism, or even of defining such a product.
Originally a fairly straightforward conservo-libertarian think tank, Heritage has recently turned into an especially ferocious guardian of right-wing tea-party orthodoxy under its president, former Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina. One can measure the organization's long journey by reflecting that the individual mandate that's at the heart of both Mitt Romney's Massachusetts healthcare reform and the Affordable Care Act was originally a Heritage Foundation concoction. Under DeMint, Heritage has been an uncompromising advocate of repealing the ACA.
Indeed, in its announcement of the Daily Signal launch, Heritage bragged about its coverage of families complaining that "an Obamacare mandate by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) compels them to pay hefty per-employee fines or violate their faith by providing abortion-inducing drugs and devices in employee health plans." Heritage calls this "news coverage that is accurate, fair and trustworthy."
For a fairly thorough look at the Daily Signal's ambition to be a snazzy online presentation appealing to youthful conservatives, we can't add anything to what TBogg has to say about it.
But the real question about the Daily Signal is: Why?
Does Heritage really think the world is clamoring for yet another "news" website produced by an openly partisan and ideological organization masquerading as objective? Does it really think anyone will buy its act? And if not, why bother with something that inevitably is going to look like a scam?
BusinessWeek headlined its piece about this venture "The Tea Party Gets Into the News Biz." That's about the size of it.