Three blivets wreathed in American flags and automatic weapons could stand on a streetcorner with signs reading “Keep Your Damn Government Hands Off My Medicare,” and they would find themselves surrounded by camera crews from CNN, MSNBC and, of course, Fox News. But put 50,000 people a day out on the streets of Madison, put tens of thousands more on the streets in every state in the union, and those same news cameras are suddenly too busy covering the Oscars and Lindsey Lohan’s ongoing crime spree to make an effort at coverage.
To this I can only add that the media has made coverage of Charlie Sheen bigger than the Oscars (possibly the dullest telecast ever of this event) and Lohan combined. They know that Sheen, even though he’s wealthy and has Adonis DNA and tiger blood, seems to be venting the delusional, misplaced anger of everyone who has lost their bearing since the country’s financial crash in 2008.
It doesn’t matter what he’s actually saying — it’s his tone that fascinates them, and his capacity for denial, which is a lot like our capacity for denial. Not that I would pretend to diagnose him — the son of a bitch is funny, just as Peter Finch as Howard Beale in Network was funny. He’s slightly more subdued than Beale but clearly feels as tuned in to great truths. (Beale really was, as it turned out.)
The mainstream media, owned by the sort of people who despise unions, is counting on Americans to want more from Charlie — “I’m tired of pretending I’m not a total bitchin’ rock star from Mars.” — and less from workers in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin is about fighting back against those who are deluding us, and the media would definitely rather not go there, so to speak.