- May 26 - The media as the dominant political force
- June 02 - The media's determined attack on Democratic leaders
- June 09 - The media's power to define, frame and legitimize issues
The policies and goals of these fascistic whack jobs are portrayed as "All American" and non-partisan, while perspectives critical of them (and particularly opinions critical of the media's role in the propaganda) are dismissively labled "partisan" (see Greg Sargent on Michael Getler on Eric Boehler's new book Lapdogs for an example of this). Leaders and spokesmen of the critical stances, not all of whom are liberal, I point out, are called "traitors", and fascistic pundits are free to advocate violence and assassination against them, rewarded for their statements with TV show appearances and even their own media empires. I'm not stating specific names as I don't care to raise their search engine scores.
This is more Animal Farm than 1984 (that's the bailiwick of the Cheney administration), where those who were once defenders of freedom against institutional power are now the chief courtiers of those same institutions. Bob Woodward's investment in the success of the Cheneyites, the inheritors of the administration he helped to bring down, is more sad than ironic. As shown by the hostility Stephen Colbert faced when he made clear that we know who is sewing the Chimperor's New Clothes, there really is no reason to think that the corporate media is ignorant of what it is doing. The only mystery is what the reporters and columnists say to themselves in the privacy of their own consciences that lets them sleep at night. I find it hard to believe that all of them are card-carrying members of the fascist wing of the Rethug party, but I could be wrong.
What is to be done about a power center that is outside of any reliable disciplinary mechanism? There aren't many options precisely because they sit on top of communications channels that would allow organization against their control of those channels. The majority of Americans get their political information from the TV because it is very simple to use, ubiquitous, and lends itself to multi-tasking - you can have the TV on while folding clothes, eating dinner, talking on the phone, etc. In the car, you have the radio. The internet requires up-front computer savvy, a connection, a basic level of literacy, and the willingness to seek stuff out.
Our choices aren't good, but we have some.
- Create our own media channels. This is the hardest and most expensive, but is underway with Air America and Al Gore's Current TV, to name a few. NPR was once a possible avenue, but is being stifled by the fascists. If we can recapture the Congress, we need to get that back into reporting factual information. The trouble is that TV and radio are entertainment driven. The average American is looking for shows, not presentations on politics, however well done. Fox News has its audience because of The Simpsons. A full liberal TV network will have limited penetration without an entertainment component. Lobbying for viewers' choice packaging of cable channels is vital here, as giving people the right to say exactly what will come into their homes allows the left to drop shows like the Xtian hate-fest programs and demand delivery of alternative channels.
- Continue to expand presence on the internet, and not just in opinion blogs. Bloviating is cheap (Why do you think I'm doing it?). What we need are more operations like Josh Marshall's TPM empire, particularly TPM Muckraker. Why this site? Because it does good solid reporting. It investigates scandals and inside deals in depth and is Fact Central for commenters to refer to. When the AP and the major newspapers are ripping the site off for news, you know you're on to something. We need TPM Muckraker-style sites for every major bureau and department in the federal government and for the party machines. If an urban area lacks an alternative to the big daily, then it's time for an electronic alternative daily. In short, provide the news reporting the corproate media will not do. And then spread the word. This takes money to pay the expense of the operation, but it also takes visitors to demonstrate interest and generate ad revenue. Of course, Net Neutrality is the oxygen in which this kind of free press can live.
- Quit watching the entertainment, which is what pays for the news. Turn off your TV. Better yet, throw it out entirely. I haven't owned a TV since 1989. I have never watched a live episode of The Simpsons, The Sopranos, American Idol, Twin Peaks, or anything that's been on the tube since then. This is problematic as you do need to monitor what is going on with the bobbleheads. So, make a real sacrifice and refuse the entertainment offerings of the networks that are the most egregious practitioners of pro-fascist propaganda. If you are a Nielsen family, adjust your viewing habits accordingly. Boycots are notoriously ineffective in a mass market (look at the boycots of Disney for refusing to be anti-gay), but it is a matter of principle.