Why Doesn't The Center-Left Just Stop Watching The TV Propaganda Masquerading As News?
I’ve often wondered why Democrats and center-left media types even appear at all on Fox News. For that matter, to send a message to the corporate media, why shouldn’t the center-left simply start a gradual but rolling boycott of the main corporate media outlets in this country, starting with the cable news channels, then the broadcast TV newscasts?
I’m serious about this. Despite Roger Ailes’ claims to the contrary that Fox isn’t biased, his London bureau chief admitted in the European edition of the Wall Street Journal last week that Fox News is one-sided and predisposed against left-of-center media types. The point that Scott Norvell was trying to make is that there is nothing wrong with a media outlet being one-sided as long as it 1) isn’t government-funded (hence his argument against the BBC and the right’s attacks against NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting here); and 2) acknowledges its leanings up front. The belief at Fox apparently is that there is nothing wrong with their approach because their viewers know what they are getting: right-wing opinion and conjecture masquerading as fact.
And to their credit and to the chagrin of news purists, nearly half of the public in a recent study said that there was nothing wrong with partisan journalism. So why does the center-left keep clinging to a notion that keeps them fighting with one had tied behind their backs?
Sure, news purists would gag at the notion that our news should be politicized, but these same purists have accepted for nearly five years now that right wing, pro-Administration propaganda can be packaged as news when in fact it isn’t. And these are the same news purists who:
-have allowed it to happen since Fox came on the scene;
-appear on Fox News when the call comes;
-let their editors turn news into a corporate product;
-allowed Jeff Gannon to work in their midst.
These are the same news purists who voiced alarm and saw Armageddon coming to the nation because Bill Clinton had disgraced the mores of the Washington beltway by lying about sex, while these same news purists and Beltway jackals have stayed silent and Georgetown party-happy about the lies of much greater consequence that have been told by this administration to send men and women to their deaths.
The fact is that we are beyond the days of an independent, and objective media. We may get back to that again depending on FCC changes and corporate profit pressures, but for the foreseeable future there is no news balance or objectivity in our media as a result of FCC and other changes that have occurred since the 1980’s. The sooner that those of us on the center-left realize that and stop pining for the days of a media of balance and objectivity and start treating the media as corporate and GOP tools, the better we will be in forcing change.
Air America is off to a good start, as are various other TV and radio programming. But nothing will change until advertisers start seeing more and more people switching off their TVs and radios from the CNN’s, the MSNBCs, the CNBCs, and even the Big Three network news and getting their news from the internet or other more friendly sources. And the Washington Post and other major corporate media Bush enablers inside the Beltway will not change until people tag them for the double-standard they applied to Clinton and get in their faces about it.
When the Big-Three TV news outlets and the cable news channels see that there is a gradual reduction in their viewership from people who are tired of the pro-Administration corporate conservative tone and double-standard of their programming, several things may happen. First, the networks may frantically push their coverage even more to the right in a death-match competition for a smaller and smaller conservative audience, which will force a fun game of broadcast Survivor that will hurt all of them. And second, some of the smarter broadcasters will be pushed by declining ratings and advertiser pressure to offer at least more objective and less-cheerleading coverage of the GOP and Bush to win back those who have left. In the meantime, we will still be getting our news from the internet and sending letters to those broadcasters we are giving up on, as well as to the advertisers who buy time on their networks. And we'll still have Keith Olberman, John Stewart, and Letterman.
Again, Norvell of Fox News is at least being honest here about what Fox is doing and their approach. They aren’t really a news network as we traditionally understand them, but the Beltway and corporate types have led us to this point and have enabled this degradation, so why shouldn’t we let them know that we’re done with them and their double-standards and GOP ass-kissing? I mean, if we’re going to balkanize the news, let’s have some of it come our way, instead of always going towards the right wing. Even the evangelicals are getting their own news network packaged for them, so the notion that there must still be an objective mainstream media is dead already.
And why should any member of the Democratic leadership in either house of Congress, or any party official or major center-left media type ever appear on Fox, MSNBC, or even CNN again until things change. Let Tweety Matthews and Timmy Russert talk to themselves and their GOP masters for several months on their shows, having to admit that they are having trouble getting Democrats to come on. Sure, the initial reaction from the media talking heads and their GOP masters will be to make fun of the Democrats for being “afraid” to come on, or not wanting to tell their story. And every time one of them says it, the party can come out with a list of the double standards and lies perpetrated by the pundits and the networks in their effort to carry water for the White House and the GOP, as well as their corporate masters. In fact, it would be great if David Brock’s Media Matters for America started a morning blast-fax to all the national media outlets pointing out the lies, falsehoods, and double standards from the national media that took place the day before. Competitive pressure would eventually force some of the media to report on the biases and mistakes made by their peers, and this will gradually have the effect of isolating the repeat offenders while getting the more responsible among them to self-correct themselves into more accurate and objective coverage.
What I’m arguing for here is an assault upon the media, plain and simple. It’s the same thing the GOP did years ago over time, but they had the benefit of building up think tanks funded with right wing nuts and corporations, which could spew intimidating attacks against the allegedly liberal media for years, or “working the refs.” It worked so well that with the FCC changes that Reagan started, the media is now a part of the GOP machinery. Democrats don’t have years and years to catch up and can’t afford to. The most dramatic way to make an impact is to stop appearing on Fox, MSNBC, and CNN, and to have the center-left start boycotting them and the Big Three. Yes, we’ll get beat up in the short term, but the advertisers will notice the declining numbers and the one-sidedness of the coverage, and will question why they should keep paying to appeal to the same shrinking audience multiple times.
Just turn your TV off, and get your news elsewhere, and be loud about it.
Update: Reader Joseph Klotchman of Las Vegas was kind enough to enlighten me already with his wisdom on the subject by way of email:
"HEY STEVE. LET'S SEE. THE LEFT CONTROLS CBS, NBC, ABC AND CNN. YES, CNN. IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE IT, CHECK OUT AARON BROWN, WOLF BLITZER, PAULA ZAHN, ET AL. BUT IT'S SOMEHOW TAMPERING WITH THE PRIMAL FORCES OF NATURE IF CONSERVATIVES HAVE ONE NEWS OUTLET. A BOYCOTT? HOW COME WHEN CONSERVATIVES OR CHRISTIANS CALL FOR A BOYCOTT IT'S CENSORSHIP, BUT WHEN IT'S FROM THE LEFT IT'S JUST DANDY? THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN THE BIZARRE, MISGUIDED MINDSETS OF THE LEFT IS IT'S GALLING HYPOCRISIES. JOSEPH KLOTCHMAN, LAS VEGAS, NV."
Thanks for writing Joe.