Much noise has been made in recent weeks about a new breeze blowing through the Republican Party.
Even the New York Times Magazine noted the change in the wind by asking pointedly: "Can the G.O.P. Be a Party of Ideas?"
Let's forgive, momentarily, the patronizing tone of the Times' headline and operate on the premise that this glass is half full — meaning that the Times sincerely wants to assess the changes making their way through the Republican Party. (To use the suggestive adjective "sweeping" to describe the very changes might be a little overzealous at this early point.)
The U.S. media, which historically has veered to the left, is facing a fundamental and intriguing challenge. The pundits must decide whether they’ll legitimately and unflinchingly recognize that the Republican Party is trying to diversify the kinds of speakers that are currently throwing their weight around the GOP.
Specifically, a younger group that wants to upend the image of the party is now making waves. Will journalists continue to respect this sea change?
Taking the Times' piece at face value, it stressed that an ideas-oriented conference held two months ago — granted, the Times might be a tad slow but it's certainly showing its interest — marked something of a turnaround and quite possibly a turning point for the Republican Party, 2 1/2 years before it (presumably) takes on the challenge of Hillary Clinton in the struggle for the White House.
The Times said that the conference was hosted by "the American Enterprise Institute, a bastion of right-leaning ideology, filled with Republicans, speaking in a language most unlike the one we’ve heard in recent years."
Like I said, when it comes to the liberal media giving praise to the Republican Party, the GOP should take what it can get. It is noteworthy that the Grey Lady recognized the importance of the meeting.
But the Republicans don't have the luxury of getting carried away by this sudden and wholly unexpected gesture of approval. The question now becomes, Will the traditional liberal elements of the U.S. media continue to acknowledge in an evenhanded way the existence of a "new GOP?"
The media, on both sides of the aisle, love to indulge in slogans so the advent of a shiny new machine called "The New GOP” should work just fine. It's likely that the young turks of the Republican Party, disillusioned by the poor results achieved by the shrill faction of the Grand Old Party, will keep up the pressure on the bosses and push for a more even-handed approach to getting out the party's message.
I'll be fascinated to measure two outcomes: 1. Will the Republican Party go further in allowing young people to exert their influence and continue to present interesting ideas that give the party a greater variety of voices? and 2. If this happens, will The New York Times stick around for the ride and continue to give the GOP credit? This has greater significance, especially as we move closer to the showdown in 2016.
Jon Friedman writes the Media Matrix blog for Indiewire.com. He is also the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)Invention, Shunning the Naysayers, and Creating a Personal Revolution." Read more reports from Jon Friedman — Click Here Now.
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