TIME FOR TERM LIMITS ON D.C. PRESS CORPS

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The Washington Press Corps are more in need of term limits than the politicians.

Like the Democrats, they don't get why people are tuning them out and they are becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Newt Gingrich's acceptance speech as the new speaker of the House "was the authentic sound of post-Reagan conservatism, of modern conservatism, which is at least a decade old-half the young conservatives were talking this way in the early '80s-but it's new to the majority of the American people because they rarely got to hear it, it never fully made its way through the media filter. But it's made its way now, and it's the authentic sound of the next 10 years."

So says Peggy Noonan, the speech writer for President Bush who cost him the election by putting three little words in his mouth: "Read my lips." Her piece in The Wall Street Journal, giving her impression of the hoopla and hysterics of Congress' first week, quotes a Clinton aide as saying maybe there can be some compromise between the two parties, but we must remember the Republicans represent "the millionaires, the people who clip coupons." Ms. Noonan points out, however, that the kind of coupons speaker Gingrich's supporters clip are for sale days at J.C. Penney's.

So if the Clinton man is any reflection, the Republicans "have been given another gift: The Democrats still don't get it."

I hasten to add, neither does the mainstream media, and that's why they are losing their voice to other venues such as C-Span and talk radio, where the callers are often more informed than the hosts and journalists who sit in.

The press tried to depict Rep. Gingrich as a wild-eyed radical, but when people heard his views in more than sound bites they liked what they heard. When Congress opens up more proceedings to TV, people will become even less tolerant of the "spin" the media gives them-because they'll see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears that's not the way events transpired.

Much has been written about the distortions of the liberal press, but I don't really think its failure is of a doctrinaire nature. They spend so much time with one another that they think the rest of the country shares their values: cynicism.

Their jaundiced eye might explain why the media missed forecasting the Republican tidal wave. When the GOP came out with its Contract With America, most newspapers and network news programs dismissed it as hokum. Likewise, the media made sport of Vice President Quayle's speech on family values. Likewise, Rep. Gingrich's remarks on orphanages.

The Democrats, obviously, deep in their bleeding hearts, don't want change, and the press doesn't either. Anything new or different is suspect and ridiculed. People have learned to make their own judgments without the "filter" of the press, as Peggy Noonan put it.

That does not bode well for Democrats or media, both of which have a vested interest in keeping things the way they were, but no longer are.

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