We have the voices, we need the echo chamber
Let's Create an Alternative Mainstream Media
If you’ve noticed the emperor wears no clothes, likely you’ve felt alone. To learn there are others who think similarly is an inspiring moment. People of similar values could coalesce more easily, if they communicated via popular media. Then they could bring about geonomic justice sooner. You can help it happen by suggesting articles, even writing them, and suggesting this site to friends. We trim this 2008 op-ed posted at AlterNet on Nov 21. The author has a new book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq."
by Robert Parry, Consortium NewsDeep-pocketed conservatives have long dominated the media. If we want real change, it's time to fight fire with fire. The progressive side must invest much more in media.
The Left’s failure to get important facts to the public and to counter the Right’s propaganda machine has been almost beyond calculation. America’s media imbalance was a big reason why George W. Bush was able to misgovern the United States. Now hundreds of thousands are dead and millions may soon be out of work.
Despite Barack Obama’s election victory, this media asymmetry will not go away. Indeed, it is almost certain to limit his ability to bring about significant change and could tilt the country back to conservatism in the not-too-distant future. When moderately progressive politicians won power before -- as Bill Clinton did in 1993 and the congressional Democrats did in 2007 -- they fended off relentless media assaults and scaled back plans.
The privileged rich (from foundations like Olin and Scaife to media moguls like Sun Myung Moon and Rupert Murdoch) have poured tens of billions of dollars into media. Their outlets reach from newspapers, magazines, and books to talk radio, cable TV, and the Internet. They fund groups to attack journalists who dug up information that put the right in a negative light.
Targeted journalists were accused of “liberal bias” and often found themselves hounded from the national press corps. A generation of journalists has learned that tilting stories rightward protects your career. They have seen what happens even to media icons, like CBS News anchor Dan Rather, when the Right’s ire is stirred.
To fill the gap, apologists for the elite landed prime spots on mainstream TV news shows and the Op-Ed pages of leading newspapers, such as the New York Times and Washington Post. Their policies, including neoconservative imperialism, got respectful if not reverential treatment by the news outlets that most Americans read, heard, and watched.
It was not so much that the Left lost the “war of ideas” to the Right; it was more that the Left abandoned the battlefield.
Lately, adding to a few earlier media standbys such as Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now!” radio/TV program and some liberal magazines, the Left has pushed back with:
In 2004, a poorly funded Air America put a few liberal voices on AM talk radio.
Comedy Central offers “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and a spin-off, “The Colbert Report” with Stephen Colbert.
MSNBC, after trying for years to out-fox Fox News with flag-waving jingoism, took a different tack when it elevated former sportscaster Keith Olbermann to a prime-time broadcast called “Countdown”.
Once Olbermann boosted MSNBC ratings, they hired Air America host Rachel Maddow to put on a show that follows “Countdown,” creating a four-hour block of relatively progressive news content.
Often operating on a shoestring, Internet sites rose up to challenge both Bush and the fawning coverage he was getting from the major news media.
Though still operating at a fraction of the budgets available to right-wing media, this combination -- grassroots Internet sites, a struggling radio network and a few toeholds inside corporate media -- helped create a climate that permitted Obama to advance.
If America’s media imbalance is to be corrected, rich progressives must fund the gutsy Web sites and larger media which can publicize stories that are generated by the smaller outlets.
For instance, a properly capitalized Air America could place ads at Web sites with links back to Air America so listeners can click on Webcasts. Air America could grow; its affiliates would be strengthened; and ad money could help keep Internet news sites afloat. They, in turn, could provide the radio network with original content for shows, rather than having Air America hosts rely on mainstream outlets like Newsweek.
This strategy for building independent media would be most effective if someone with access to plentiful resources took the lead, such as major directors/producers from Hollywood. Bill Moyers, who has run the Schumann Foundation and knows his way around New York/Washington media circles, would be an ideal candidate for such a role now. Without an investment of serious money, even a well-conceived plan and the involvement of well-qualified people won’t go anywhere.
John Cusack: Bypassing the Corporate Media
May voters clarify -- The Fly on the Wall Is the Wall
Why do most of the media call good economic news bad?
Email this article Sign up for free Progress Report updates via email
What are your views? Share your opinions with The Progress Report:
Page One Page Two Archive Discussion Room Letters What's Geoism?