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June 03, 2005
Creating A Liberal Media

Did I link to Robert Parry recently? Because he had a good column on the media and the Right's propaganda machine in mid-May (but then I started traveling and now I'm too lazy to go check my own entries).

I have a few problems with his article.

Like, transferring donations away from PBS to other "independent" media outlets? Is the same kind of cut-and-run BS that the Left has been indulging in for years. We've proven in the last few years that sufficient voter outcry can influence even this Administration and I refuse to abandon PBS (and NPR!) to the Right's machinations.

His assertion that we'll "show PBS" a thing or two is just stupid. PBS doesn't control their own destiny. The government and the viewers and supporters do. (He writes like PBS woke up one morning and decided to become a league of right-wing lunatics. Media Matters has a better approach.)

I'm all the more bemused by his first sentence in next section.

Second, invest both in existing outlets and in new ones.


1. Abandon a national, existing outlet that provides (some) balance.

2. Invest in existing outlets.

Beyond that quibble, yes, I agree that diverting a bit of your donations budget to existing progressive and liberal publications (or media outlets) is an excellent idea.

He also says:

It also would be a mistake to put much effort in trying to get the Federal Communications Commission to re-regulate the telecommunications industry or to re-apply the Fairness Doctrine. In the current political environment, progressives can expect almost nothing positive from the FCC.

It's not a mistake. That's our money they're using. This is our government. It is not easier to try and kill the patient under the theory that you can get another one later.

All his strategy will do is to create a permanent "outsider" status for liberals. You don't influence public policy by refusing to dirty your hands with debates (and even fights) over current policies. And you don't wait for the wind to change. You make it change.

At the time, I was at the AP and saw first-hand how the information that we developed about secret White House operations in Central America helped break the Iran-Contra scandal and put the Reagan-Bush juggernaut on the defensive for the first time in years.

While we viewed our investigation of Oliver North’s activities as just a good story, the repercussions were far-reaching. Indeed, if accommodationist Democrats like Lee Hamilton and mainstream news outlets hadn’t pulled back, the political reputations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush might never have recovered.

You see? He says it himself. Holding back was a mistake then, deciding not to fight that fight back then had repercussions. Why, then, does he advise us not to fight today?

The FCC may feel to him like a small, or even a "lost" battle. Well, first, he's wrong. Second, it matters anyhow. Because if you just cave in without a fight, or even a public debate, the "public" assumes there isn't any problem.

[...] the Left has long underestimated the political importance of the Right’s populist talk-radio monopoly. Many on the Left simply changed the channel to music or sports, but many Americans didn’t, explaining why so many – especially in the heartland – grew to despise liberals. That was all they heard on the radio.

And yet...he counsels us to just abandon the FCC and PBS?

Those people who are working three jobs to keep a roof over their family's head or are 17 and just starting to grasp the concept that the government does have something to do with their daily lives and all of the rest of the individual "little people" in this country deserve better advice from the Left than, "let them have it all, we'll get ours someday." The people who are 70 and choosing between medicine and food and wondering what to believe about Medicare don't have a "some day." This is their "some day." They deserve better.

(Cough, cough. Ahem.)

He also addresses that money issue that several blogs have been debating recently. (I know, I should have addressed this in any of the comments I've made on various blogs, but it took me three days to track down where I'd read about the subject recently. Also, those blogs frequently included themselves among the "publications" that should be supported via donations and I have some issues around that, but that's an entirely different topic.)

But the Right’s success should convince the Left that it needs to invest serious money in both the outlets and the journalists. For too many years, hand-to-mouth progressive media outlets have survived largely on subsidies from freelance journalists who contributed their work for a fraction of its value.

He's absolutely right, as are the bloggers who have been hitting this topic. For far too long the Left's progressive publications and media outlets have subsisted by begging for handouts. I know that I, personally, just assumed that since the history and destiny of this country were clearly liberal, spending money to convince people of that was a bit silly. (Boy, is my face red....) It's time to stop that. Some of us don't have a dime to spare. Others of us can find $10 to give to any one of our favored progressive publications. (It won't buy a subscription, but most of them accept donations online.) Some of us can find $100

Anyhow, he has other good things to say and, assuming y'all didn't read and discuss it when I was out of town and that you're not tired of it by now, go read it.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:55 PM


My local NPR station is doing something I have never heard before - it is complaining about interference from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the FCC.

I live on the "Redneck Riviera", the Florida Panhandle, in Joe Scarborough's old Congressional district, so this is a definite break with tradition.

Posted by: Bryan at June 5, 2005 01:52 PM

I'm not surprised. I would imagine that individual NPR stations are much more familiar than the general public is with the results of those two listener polls that said NPR's coverage is balanced and shouldn't be changed. They have to know they're under attack from the Rightwing.

I'm sending my local station a generous check and a note of support this week.

Posted by: Anne at June 5, 2005 03:56 PM