Michelle Malkin, a person who wrote a book defending the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, was a panel member on This Week With George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. Paul Krugman asks the obvious question, then goes a bit further:
When I saw that Michelle Malkin will be on the Stephanopoulos panel this week, my first thought was that nobody as far to the left as she is to the right would ever appear on such a panel. But then I started to wonder (a) what I mean by that (b) if it’s true.
I don’t want to be like Bill O’Reilly, who considers anyone he disagrees with a “far-left” activist. So we need some objective metric. The most natural would seem to be voter opinion: what fraction of the American public is to Malkin’s right? Would somebody with an equally small number of people to his or her left get on a Sunday morning panel?
Clearly there’s a kind of Doppler effect when it comes to politics. Paul Krugman probably sees little difference between someone who’s an “8” on the conservative scale and someone who is a “10.” The same thing, in reverse, goes for Bill O’Reilly. What to do? Media Matters has some data about the Sunday shows’ ideological balance, but right-wingers will obviously dispute some of MM’s categorizations of various people as “liberal,” “neutral,” or “conservative.”
Still, Krugman’s idea of basing “scaling” on voter opinion is a bit odd. Shouldn’t the Sunday shows try to expose viewers to a variety of viewpoints, even if some of those viewpoints are more marginal than others? Minority viewpoints will never become majority ones if people aren’t exposed to them.
In other words, even if dramatically more people agree with Michelle Malkin than do with, say, Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi (and I don’t mean to suggest an equivalence between the two), that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t hear what Taibbi has to say.