Dear Media, Part I: Diagnosis

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big picture stuff, Bush Administration, News Media

Stranger of Blah3.com speaks for many of us:

Dear Media,

I hope you all enjoy lying in that bed you’ve made.

All those years of making excuses for George W. Bush’s ineptness, inadequacies, and illegalities have earned you absolutely nothing. You brushed aside his lack of experience and intellectual incuriosity in 1999 and 2000, mostly because you didn’t like Al Gore. Your behavior gave him a much better position from which to steal the 2000 election.

You bought the spin from Bush’s minions, ignoring the crisis that was taking place in Florida after the election. You believed every lie they came up with, from ‘The votes have been counted and re-counted and re-counted’ to ‘Al Gore is trying to steal the election,’ and you decided that letting Bush take office (in the most literal sense possible) was ‘best for the country.’

You papered over the fact that he was scared out of his mind on September 11, 2001 – to the point where he flew to Idaho to hide – in favor of painting him as a ‘resolute leader.’ You swallowed, hook, line, and sinker, every lie that came out of the White House in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq – in many cases embellishing the lies to make them sound more plausible. …

… And after all this, Bush and Cheney and Congress and Coulter and every wingnut pundit, whom you’ve coddled and accommodated every step of the way, show their appreciation how?

They want to muzzle you. They want to imprison you. They want to try you for treason.

Stranger links to an The American Prospect article about radio talk show host Melanie Morgan, who is the same raving loon who “debated” the SWIFT program with Al Sharpton on Monday night’s Hardball. TAP quotes Morgan suggesting that New York Times editor Bill Keller should be sent to the gas chamber for treason. She was more moderate on Hardball and was willing to reduce Keller’s sentence to 20 years behind bars.

To be a liberal in America today is to look at news media and despair. Sometime between the Watergate Era and today, the whole bleeping profession of journalism turned into the Right’s Pet Goat. The much compromised New York Times is Exhibit A. You’d think the Bush Administration would be grateful to the Times for its help with the WMDs scam. But no; the Times is now the ur-Goat.

The catastrophe that is contemporary American journalism is described in detail in Eric Boehlert’s new book Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush. I’m not going to repeat Boehlert’s arguments here; many of you know them, anyway. Instead, I want to look at the bigger picture of journalism and politics.

To see the bigger picture, you have to step back from political issues and parties, including our much-beloved debate on whether Democrats are hopeless. Instead, consider the political culture of the United States. I argue that our national political culture is so sick and contaminated that it no longer supports the democratic processes of politics and government. Sheer entropy has kept democracy lumbering along — it takes either a long time or a lot of force to stop a really big mass that’s been in motion for a while. But a political culture utterly inhospitable to rational political discussion, as ours has become, will shut democracy down eventually.

If we’re going to restore the United States to functionality as a democratic republic, our primary goal is to heal the national political culture. Otherwise, it won’t matter which party we support or how many elections we win, because the patient — democracy in America — will still be dying. But if we can heal the culture, the job of reforming other political institutions — like the Democratic and Republican parties — will be easier.

For example, many progressives have concluded it is pointless to support Democrats, because as soon as a Democrat gets inside the Beltway his spinal column is ripped right out of him. Time and time again, we’ve seen Democratic politicians make grand speeches to their liberal constituents, but once we get them elected they do little more than offer ineffectual objections to the ruling right-wing power juggernaut. And we’re all sick of this.

But I say that progressivism’s salvation will not come from any political leader or party, Democrat or otherwise. It will come from media reform. This is true because no matter who we elect, and no matter what progressive legislators might want to accomplish, they are helpless to do much until progessive policies have solid popular support. You build popular support for policies by talking about them to the American people. And for the past fifty years or so, that means being able to make your case in mass media, particularly television.

Now, tell me — when was the last time you watched a substantive, factual, civil discussion of progressive ideas on national television?

Take health care, for example. For years, we progressives have wanted some kind of national health care system, maybe single payer, maybe a combination of public and private systems, but something that would scuttle the bloated, failing mess we’ve got now. Many polls indicate that a majority of Americans are deeply concerned about health care in this country. Yet it is next to impossible to present progressive ideas about health care reform to the American public through mass media. Even on those programs allegedly dedicated to political discussion, as soon as a progressive gets the phrase “health care” out of his mouth, a chorus of rightie goons will commence shrieking about socialized medicine! And then the allotted ten minutes for the health care segment is up; go to commercial.

And that’s assuming a real progressive is invited on the program at all.

So even though a majority of the American people sense that something is wrong with our health care system, and think something needs to change, they never hear what the options are through mass media. Probably a large portion of American voters don’t realize that the U.S. is the only industrialized democratic nation with no national health care program. They never hear that, on a purely cost-benefit basis, we have about the worst health care system on the planet. All Americans ever hear is that Canada has national health care and that Canadians have to put their names on waiting lists to get services, and ain’t that awful? OK, but what about the thirty-something other nations with national health care systems that don’t have waiting lists?

Bottom line: The Right figured out how to use mass media to make its point-of-view dominant and shut out the Left. Thus, radical right-wing views are presented as “conservative” and even “centrist,” even though a whopping majority of the American public doesn’t agree with those views. Through media, the radical Right is able to deflect attention away from itself and persuade just enough voters that Democrats are loony and dangerous. And maybe even treasonous.

And if just enough voters aren’t persuaded — well, there are ways to deal with that, too. But media consumers aren’t hearing much about that, either.

Because media is the dominant political force of our time, media reform is an essential part of the cure. It’s not the only part — reform is required along many fronts — but without media reform, we’re bleeped.

So what’s this political culture thing? Genuine representative democracy is more than just elections, as explained in this Wikipedia article. It is a form of government in which “the ability of the elected representatives to exercise decision-making power is subject to the rule of law, and usually moderated by a constitution which emphasizes the protection of the rights and freedoms of individuals and minorities, and which places constraints on the leaders and on the extent to which the will of the majority can be exercised.”

In successful democracies, accountability to the people is critical. Therefore, government must be transparent except when national security requires secrecy, and in that circumstance some form of oversight of those acting in secret must be honored. It is also essential that a large majority of the people respect a social contract in the broadest sense of that term. And a fundamental part of that contract is the implicit agreement that protecting the integrity of the law, and of the institutions and processes of democratic government, comes before winning elections or enacting policies.

As explained nicely by the Wikipedia article linked above,

For countries without a strong tradition of democratic majority rule, the introduction of free elections alone has rarely been sufficient to achieve a transition from dictatorship to democracy; a wider shift in the political culture and gradual formation of the institutions of democratic government are needed. There are various examples, like in Latin America, of countries that were able to sustain democracy only temporarily or in limited form until wider cultural changes occurred to allow true majority rule.

One of the key aspects of democratic culture is the concept of a “loyal opposition”. This is an especially difficult cultural shift to achieve in nations where transitions of power have historically taken place through violence. The term means, in essence, that all sides in a democracy share a common commitment to its basic values. Political competitors may disagree, but they must tolerate one another and acknowledge the legitimate and important roles that each play. The ground rules of the society must encourage tolerance and civility in public debate. In such a society, the losers accept the judgment of the voters when the election is over, and allow for the peaceful transfer of power. The losers are safe in the knowledge that they will neither lose their lives nor their liberty, and will continue to participate in public life. They are loyal not to the specific policies of the government, but to the fundamental legitimacy of the state and to the democratic process itself.

Granted, these ideals have never been perfectly manifested in the American body politic. All human institutions are imperfect, and institutions that survive through many generations will go through cycles of corruption and reform. Often idealistic people will point to the corruptions and the many ways our nation has fallen short of its ideals and argue that the patient isn’t worth saving. I, however, take the Buddhist view that all compounded things are imperfect and subject to decay, but that’s how life is, and it’s our duty — to ourselves, our ancestors, and our descendants — to make the best of it. Not making the best of it is a bad alternative.

Although it’s never been perfect, once upon a time American political culture supported democratic processes, but now it does not. It does not because many of our civic institutions are controlled by right-wing extremists who do not respect the social contract or the values of democracy. Although they pay lip service to the legitimacy of the government and democratic processes, what drives them is the acquisition of power and the implementation of their extremist agenda by any means necessary. If rules must be broken and democratic processes subverted to achieve their goals — so be it.

Paul Krugman recognized what was happening and wrote about it in the introduction to his book The Great Unraveling. He explained that, throughout history, reasonable people accustomed to political and social stability have failed to recognize the danger of emerging radical movements — until the stability is lost. Ironically, Krugman says he came to understand this from reading Henry Kissinger’s Ph.D. thesis. As Krugman explained in a Buzzflash interview,

… reasonable people can’t bring themselves to see that they’re actually facing a threat from a radical movement. Kissinger talked about the time of the French Revolution, and pretty obviously he also was thinking about the 1930s. He argued that, when you have a revolutionary power, somebody who really wants to tear apart the system — doesn’t believe in any of the rules — reasonable people who’ve been accustomed to stability just say, “Oh, you know, they may say that, but they don’t really mean it.” And, “This is just tactical, and let’s not get too excited.” Anyone who claims that these guys really are as radical as their own statements suggest is, you know, “shrill.” Kissinger suggests they’d be considered alarmists. And those who say, “Don’t worry. It’s not a big deal,”are considered sane and reasonable.

Well, that’s exactly what’s been happening. For four years now, some of us have been saying, whether or not you think they’re bad guys, they’re certainly radical. They don’t play by the rules. You can’t take anything that you’ve regarded as normal from previous U.S. political experience as applying to Bush and the people around him. They will say things and do things that would not previously have made any sense — you know, would have been previously considered out of bounds. And for all of that period, the critics have been told: “Oh, you know, you’re overreacting, and there’s something wrong with you.”

The ascension of the radical right occurred over many years, and their takeover of government — a slow-motion coup d’état — happened gradually enough that most of us didn’t comprehend what was happening. America has been challenged by radicalism before, and always it has come back to the center soon enough. (And by “center” I mean the real center, where liberalism and conservatism balance, not the false “center” of today that would have been considered extreme conservatism in saner times.) I do not believe the coup is a fait accompli; the Right is not yet so secure it its power that it has dropped all pretense of honoring democratic political process. They’re still going through the motions, in other words. But this time I do not believe America will come back to the center unless a whole lot of us grab hold and pull at it. Hard.

How do we do that? First, we have to get our bearings and remember what “normal” is, which is going to be hard for the young folks whose memories don’t back back further than the Reagan Administration. Just take it from an old lady — what we got now ain’t normal.

Second, media reform, as I say, is essential, and will be looked at in more detail in Dear Media, Part II, which I hope to have up by tomorrow. I argue that media reform is essential to all other necessary political reform. Blogs and innovations in media technology may prove to be critical to this reform.

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28 Comments

26 Comments

  1. MNPundit  •  Jun 30, 2006 @12:05 pm

    I was born in 1981, my only memory of Democrats is as losers and I certianly have no idea what kind of media you mean… so dear Maha, explain it because you can’t fight for something when you have no idea what its supposed to look like.

    Look, when I was in highschool in the 90s, and my conservative friends would bash liberals, I would have no idea how to answer them. I knew my ideas were better but I couldn’t get around their arguments because I didn’t recognize the falacies in them. Mostly they were talking points. But also because of the narrative, when I got called a liberal, I felt vaguely bad, ashamed though I never dreamed of being a conservative. One of the things I owe Dr. Dean so much for is reminding me of how to fight. How to be proud that I am a Democrat and that it’s okay to be a liberal

    I think that happened for a lot of people and it was a function of the media, who loved Dean when he was an underdog, giving a platform for actual centrist-liberal voices. I think the results of that campaign in regards to people energized and citizens taking back power for themselves is still reverberating. So when you say that taking back the media is important I’ll agree with you, even if I might not know how and I might not agree with you on the particulars–but I’ll wait until part 2 to say for sure.

  2. maha  •  Jun 30, 2006 @12:30 pm

    MN: Is it impossible to imagine a news media in which liberal ideas are treated with respect instead of shouted down? In which political operatives can’t get away with telling outright lies without being challenged ? That’s what I’m talking about.

  3. Chief  •  Jun 30, 2006 @1:12 pm

    The Krugman interview excerpt, and your whole post, reminded me how the National Socialists (Nazis) took over Germany. The Nazis may have had it easier b/c of the huge reparations Germany was forced to pay but fascists in this country have made a good start.

    MNPundit,

    Civility in the ‘public square.’ Sound-bites. Frequently it takes more than 30 seconds to explain complex subjects. Right now we are in an era of who can shout down the opposition, wins.

  4. zak822  •  Jun 30, 2006 @1:14 pm

    I used to think the media were simply lapdogs, fawning and hoping that this would win approval.

    Now I believe the problem is really that most of the media gatekeepers and the people we actually see and read agree with President Bush and his cronies.

    They can’t give us a fair representation of say, US healthcare compared to Canada and other industrialized nations. It would require a self-reflective willingness to examine their own deeply held beliefs and then describing their inaccuracies to themselves.

    They’d have to acknowledge they were wrong. Ain’t gonna happen, unless events become to provacative to ignore. We see a little of this in the very limited reporting being done about conservative House members making noise about Presidential overeach. If GOP House members start making real noise, it will be impossible to ignore. Then the fun will start.

  5. justme  •  Jun 30, 2006 @1:41 pm

    “Blogs and innovations in media technology may prove to be critical to this reform”

    Amen sister Maha!….If it were up to the MSM there would be no elections in 2008.Blogs and innovations are our only hope.

    A good example of how bad the media has become came to my attention as a sat in a vets office yesterday…Hardball was on and the topic was the NYTimes.

    As you reported earlier in the week, SWIFT has a bleeping website..has been mentioned in open congressional hearings(perhaps the media needs to watch C-SPAN once in a awhile), and is mentioned numerous times in documents…some bleeping secret!!!!The NYTimes MAY have even gathered the information to write the story from public records… no source needed,, just a reporter doing his job(unheard of)… but has the MSM bothered to tell us how much information was out there about SWIFT?Have they even bothered to mention they could have reported the same story if they were not to lazy to do some investigation?

    No it is too much fun to tell ghost stories to each other about how journalists are going to end up in a gas chamber for reporting…BOO!Reforming this bunch is a waste of time indeed.

    I remember watching political shows as a small child…. the substance was something a person could never imagine in this day and age…. both sides were allowed to make their case,respectfully, and neither would have gotten away with the JR.HIGH tactic used today of making the other sides views seem less valid… let alone be allowed to flat out lie without so much as a question.

    Now we can discuss a story based totally on a lie for DAYS worth of news cycles.Even when the media’s own ass is on the line, no one cares enough to stop a fake story by pointing out the FACTS,,,Will Bill Keller be all the way IN the GOPgas chamber before someone brings up the fact SWIFT was no secret?…

    The media is a lost cause…..one at a time people are waking up to the fact and they are READY for something else.

  6. western otto  •  Jun 30, 2006 @2:17 pm

    Good post. Two things though: first, isn’t the problem really corporate control of the media (and pretty much everything else) rather than simple moral and intellectual slippage? Secondly, you mean “inertia”, I think, rather than “entropy”.

  7. fshk  •  Jun 30, 2006 @2:26 pm

    MN, I’m only a year older than you are, and maybe it’s because I grew up in suburban NJ where liberal was a majority (or that I was on the debate team, so I could hold my own in an argument over politics), but my experience is totally different from yours, and I know enough history that I can at least imagine what it would be to have a press that’s not in the pockets of the administration. We aren’t asking for much, just honest, objective reporting, or at least honesty and neutrality in reporting that purports to be objective. Or, like, actual debate on the cable news channels instead of talking heads bleating at each other.

    I think this is what bothers me about political culture the most; when we’re reduced to slogans and talking points, there’s no discourse.

    I’m interested to read Part II, because I don’t know how media can be reformed. I think education reform is key, too; the push towards NCLB/standardized testing is a move away from teaching people to think critically.

  8. James E. Powell  •  Jun 30, 2006 @2:33 pm

    The corporate press/media is a part of, not apart from, the American ruling class. The people who work there may not acknowledge this in so many words, but they embrace it with their conduct.

    The notion that the corporate press/media is a force or a source of information distinct from the ruling class is just that, a fanciful notion. The only time these entities appear to function in this way is when one faction of the ruling class is in conflict with another faction.

    The ‘media,’ meaning the people who own and work in the corporate press/media, very much enjoy the bed they made. They are comfortable. They have no problem with the way things are. They are not going to do anything to change our current circumstances. On the contrary, they will defend the status quo most vigorously.

  9. bevsterc  •  Jun 30, 2006 @5:08 pm

    I think the MSM’s position became unworkable during Reagan’s second term, when no major media outlet had the guts to report on his demonstrable senility.

  10. goatherd  •  Jun 30, 2006 @5:57 pm

    Thank you for a great article.

    I disco’d my TV four years ago. I never missed it for a nanosecond. When my 90 year old mother came to live with us, she wanted satellite TV. I was absolutely womperjawed at what had happened to the “news”. I used to watch BBC and PBS news, back when PBS was better. So I was doubly shocked by quality of CNN etc. So, I just don’t go near the blasted thing.

    Direct TV is owned by Newscorp who give us Fox. When I cancelled with them I told them it was because of the parent company and not their service.

    If EVERYONE who wanted better news simply cancelled their satellite or cable for a couple months, they would get what they wanted. Of course this will never happen.

    I hope those of you who were born since 1975 will not lose heart. There was a better time and there may be again. When I think of people like Martin Luther King, JFK and other luminaries, it seems that we walked with giants. I am sorry that we didn’t leave you a better world, we did try, and it is not over yet.

    My feeling is that you meant “momentum” rather than “entropy” or “inertia”. Momentum and inertia are two aspects of the same phenomenon. But, your observation was correct regardless.

  11. MNPundit  •  Jun 30, 2006 @6:07 pm

    fshk, your upbringing was completely different from mine. I lived in a blue state, but it was a red region right on the border with a red state. Our congressional rep is a Dem, but he’s one of the Blue Dogs because of the region and if he ever retired the seat would almost certianly go R. Let me illustrate with this anecdote: When I was in early grade school, we had a mock election for Dukakis/Bush, I was the only 1 in the class that voted for Dukakis, and everyone knew it was me. Afterwards one of my classmates cam up and asked me how I could be a Christian and a Democrat.

    Thank you Maha for answering my question, and you’re right I can imagine that. So now I’ll come back Monday for Part II of your series.

  12. maha  •  Jun 30, 2006 @6:48 pm

    All — corporate ownership of mass media is a huge part of the problem, no question, but mass media has other built-in problems apart from corporate ownership. Discussion to come.

  13. emel  •  Jun 30, 2006 @7:04 pm

    Someone needs to look the Chris Matthews’s of this world straight in the eye and ask what will you do when they come for you? Because the media people ,the sell outs, don’t seem to understand exactly what they are lying down with. With their own advocating poisoning killing and gasing and happily stirring up the ugliest impulses in society, I truly wonder what they think will happen when this fury is really unleashed. Do they have any understanding of what brownshirts and klansmen really are?

  14. maha  •  Jun 30, 2006 @7:38 pm

    Today Matthews had another segment pitting Al Sharpton against the utterly vile Melanie Morgan. What a waste of time. I don’t have anything against Sharpton, specifically, except that he seemed to lack knowledge of the subject sufficient to provide really kick-ass answers. And Morgan is just vile. She’s definitely in the Coulter-Malkin mold.

  15. justme  •  Jun 30, 2006 @7:56 pm

    Built in problem #1 IMHO is the media is a bit to chummy to be objective…..conversations will politicians are staged… there is no honest discussion of issues or ideas…everything they plan to say is set up between a “host” and the politician over lunch or golf, and then shore up at commercial breaks….

    “Reporters” are a little to comfy in their positions.Politicians who have the ethics of alQueda, have learned to use the media…by trying to make reporters feel like “insiders”…they feed them tidbits “off the record”, then the media gets to decide what we the serf masses need to be told….You can tell by looking at any MSM figurehead that they believe they know a ton of stuff you don’t .Why?Chances are they just might know plenty of things…but why tell?…who wants to feel like an outsider again when you can be on A list parties, entitled to little secrets over cocktails, get access,….perhaps people of influence have gotten your kids into the best private schools with a phonecall,perhaps you are now a member of a fancy country club where fat politicians smoke cigars and swap viagra(but you will never tell on your buddy!).Your viewers never have to know about the hookers and the poker parties … you can pick and choose what they are spoon fed…What advantage would there be to bucking a system like that?

    The media would claim they have to be nice or they will lose access.. and that politicians will not speak to them, but instead to pox instead and I say GOOD!!!!Reporters are not going to get any honesty from Politicians.. gimme a friggin break… they could get a far better story without re-writing whitehouse talking points.

    The media , frankly needs to get out of bed with the people whom they cover….. Perhaps it is time to create a newsviewers bill of rights…reporters could sign on or not…. those who did not at least we would know they have no intention of being fair and those that did sign on would be expected to hold a higher standard..

    There is no room for reporters to be “friends” with those who they cover…but there is even less excuse for the public as a whole to permit it…

  16. erinyes  •  Jun 30, 2006 @9:42 pm

    Italy had a similar situation under Mussolini.
    Neocon father Leo Strauss helped start this fire with his doctrine of doing anything necessary to grab power, then doing anything necessary to retain it.9/11 was the golden key.
    Chief hit the nail on the head when he says he who yells most wins the debate, didn’t used to be that way.
    Now days, all debate goes back to Bill Clinton’s winkey.
    Bush gets a free pass on the war in” Eye rack”.Makes me want to get me some Eye- Talian food.
    The press has dumbed down the masses so badly!
    When the shuttle disintegrated upon re-entry several years ago, a woman I know asked me if I thought the “Eye-Rakies” shot it down….
    She thought that since an Israeli astronaut was on board, the Iraqis would want to do so….
    Imagine the technology it would take to do such a thing.
    I’ve been mugged by the reality that unless there are some big changes very soon, we will have a full fledged fascist dictatorship.
    About half the population would be ok with that.As long as they’re making money and the stock market is up…

  17. c u n d gulag  •  Jun 30, 2006 @11:08 pm

    A few of my my many fears:
    1. Bush decides that the war and some manufactured “state of emergency ” will call for a suspension of the ’06, or, especially the ’08 elections.
    2. McCain, a real conservative, but not one who has the Evangelical’s support, will be nominated at the Republican Convention. But, only if he takes Jeb as his running mate.
    3. The same scenario for Condi…. Jeb, again…
    4. Jeb, period…
    5. George Allen. The only may who may possibly be stupider than Shrub! This guy is lucky that breathing is an involuntary reaction. If he had to think to breath, he’d have been dead moments after birth!
    6. Sorry to say this, but Hillary as the Democratic nominee.
    The only vision she has is being President. Hence, no real vision.

    My hopes? Not in any particular order: Edward’s, Clarke, Obama, Feingold, Brian Schweitzer, and Eliot Spitzer.
    Any other suggestions?

  18. Donna  •  Jun 30, 2006 @11:54 pm

    Maha, thank you for this great and sane post and for starting it off with that Dear Media letter from Stranger of Blah3.com. That letter is so to the point, and I hope all the media folks read it.

    I particularly resonated with your statement that [if we want to bring America back to center], “first we have to get our bearings and remember what ‘normal’ is”…..

    I have written about this before, but will again as goatherd [post #10] brought up disco-ing the TV. I have had no TV since 1979, and the absence of TV has been a real blessing in staying firmly grounded and centered in real life. When I am in a home where a TV is on, it just amazes me that folks will ‘enjoy’ being bombarded with hype every other second……it sure seems like the programming and the commercials are designed to continually titilate and amp up adrenaline shocks in order to keep people glued in. I am also amazed at how stupid the programs are….as erinyes says, “The press has dumbed down the masses so badly.”

    I’d guess that this TV culture, which is basically about selling products, has become the default ‘model’ that has replaced civil and deep discourse in politics. Ever watch one of those sit-coms or soaps and notice that the actors don’t speak to each other, but rather they argue inanely and shout at each other? I shudder to think that a couple of generations have learned how to [not] communicate because they’ve ‘learned’ about life through the filter of TV programming.

    Seems to me that the creeping fascism we see in America is tied to attempts by the ‘haves’ to shore up the [inevitable] crumbling pyramid-scheme model that arose from bastardizing true capitalism and true freedom of opportunity. Our economic system in the last few decades has been premised upon continued growth through ever-more consumption by the masses, yet with an ever more tight control of the masses [keep ’em economically desperate]. The TV is the main thirst-for-new-things promoter as well as the main control mechanism to convince the have-nots that ‘all is well’.

    Those at the top of the economic pyramid absolutely need all those below to consume [and pay their little guy taxes] to keep the pyramid-scheme running, but are not willing to pay their own fair share of taxes, are not willing to share the wealth generated by the pyramid, and are not willing to share power with those not in the top echelons [but are quite willing to have the lesser level folks go die in wars ‘of choice’]. This is a self-defeating economic system and will fall apart sooner or later.

  19. Cassidy  •  Jul 1, 2006 @1:31 am

    Among the things we desperately need is the reinstatement of something like the Fairness Doctrine. We need this so that freedom of speech is a reality, not just a pretty phrase.

    It was created after WWII, killed by Reaganites. There is a very good review of how governmental regulation via the Fairness Doctrine created more balance in the traditional media at:
    http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0212-03.htm

    Reinstating this is one of the steps that will be vital to overcome the current biased stranglehold of the traditional media and recover our democracy.

  20. zeus  •  Jul 1, 2006 @2:02 am

    You could substitute ‘Dear Bush Voters’ for ‘Dear Media’ and have just as valid an argument.

    Isn’t this the same media that sat on the phone-tapping story until after the 2004 presidential election (a small fact that, if exposed, just may have tipped the election the other way). Left-leaning my ass.

  21. roman eos  •  Jul 1, 2006 @4:06 am

    Hi Barbara,

    I may be a little misplaced at this site because I hit ‘this’ unwittingly on rss feed from your ‘Culture’ posting over at GG’s..

    So I hope it’s no bother for you. My query is whether you’re “screwed” frame of mind came from Howie Kunstler. He wrote “The Long Emergency” and I would have to say that it was long itself for all he had to say back in 2005.

    Significant is that in this year 06 his focus is a little sharper and depression less obvious. The reason is that that the mid, east and west US states are no longer a kind of dysfunctional urbanity—there’s a better drive going on there with folks picking a sense of their land for the nation instead of their own despair.

    I could be wrong, but better is the living example they are aquiring.
    Good for them!

    We might encourage this, and this kind of thing for our performances, too.

    Anyways tks for this opportunity to comment

  22. maha  •  Jul 1, 2006 @6:01 am

    roman: I don’t believe I’ve ever read anything by Howie Kunstler, so I can’t speak to his opinions. It’s not clear to me what you are saying, but the dysfunction of the federal government is as yet a separate thing from local econonomies, and large numbers of people have yet to notice an impact on their personal lives. I say yet because if we continue our present course it’s going to hit everyone but the most wealthy eventually, although perhaps not for a few years.

  23. sammy1  •  Jul 1, 2006 @8:17 am

    As long as the corporations are running the media, we will have the same lack of responsible discussion. The ratings/money is in the fight and choosing sides not the consensus. Case in point: the Super Bowl. The “corpmedia” only wants a close game so people keep watching until the end; they care not at all or which team wins.

  24. Dan S.  •  Jul 1, 2006 @10:21 pm

    “But no; the Times is now the ur-Goat.”

    It’s all about the Two Minute Hate . . .

  25. Britwit  •  Jul 2, 2006 @12:26 am

    I totally agree Maha. It disgusts me to hear and read some of the b.s. that is dispensed.

  26. ironranger  •  Jul 2, 2006 @9:04 am

    As someone who was born in the 50’s, I can remember & contrast the vast difference between the era of Walter Cronkite & others news shows vs today’s msm crapola. I often think how the viewing audience then would have reacted if Walter or any of the others of the time had started their program with the words, “Let’s play hardball!” I think viewers would have thought networks had lost their minds. I love it when Randi Rhodes plays a clip of a Hardball show (I believe) with everyone screaming all at once & Chris saying, “Guys, guys…”. It’s the schoolyard playground with no monitors. Sad…younger people have only experienced this spinfotainment that passes for news. Finding & watching old clips (pre-disintegration of news reporting) would be instructive.

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