February 10, 2007

The Pitiful State of Our Media

Three stories this week show just how damaged the mainstream media is. It is clear we are in deep trouble as a nation if we cannot get the media to do a better job because it is this dysfunctional media that has enabled the worst administration in American history as well as their extremist collaborators to take us to war and to weaken the institutions that are needed to help us deal with the enormous problems facing us. These stories were designed to slime Democratic leaders and to justify more war by stoking the fear factor once more.

One of the fake controversies surrounded the outrageousness of Speaker Nancy Pelosi having an Air Force jet for flying home on weekends. Does this story have legs? I'll say. Because for the past three days I've been corresponding with a friend who thinks that this story shows that Nancy Pelosi is a hypocrite and corrupt to boot. Isn't that exactly what the right-wing machine is trying to do? And today, after sending all the links and notes from Josh Marshall's excellent reporting, my friend still thinks it makes her look bad because she and her spokespeople didn't debunk the lies earlier. This in my books is a perfect example of how the right wing (and Karl Rove) destroy their enemies. And they've done their job of making the American public distrust all politicians (after all they all do it) so that there will be no one left who can fight for us. What should the Congressional leaders learn from this episode to get in front of nasty attacks from the right wing? How do we help them?

The Edwards blogger story was another example of manufacturing a controversy that was designed to damage a top Democratic candidate. Glenn Greenwald thinks that the overall outcome of this story shows how the liberal blogosphere has started to fight against the right-wing noise machine, yet he sees the Edwards story as a prime example of the influence of the right wing network on our public discourse.

For the last 15 years or so -- since the early years of the Clinton administration -- our public political discourse has been centrally driven by an ever-growing network of scandal-mongers and filth-peddling purveyors of baseless, petty innuendo churned out by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, various right-wing operatives and, more recently, the right-wing press led by Fox News. Every issue of significance is either shaped and wildly distorted by that process, or the public is distracted from important issues by contrived and unbelievably vapid, petty scandals. Our political discourse has long been infected by this potent toxin, one which has grown in strength and degraded most of our political and media institutions.

...It is still the case that the political impressions of most Americans are shaped by how our dominant media outlets discuss political issues. That is true for every issue from the seemingly inconsequential (staffing decisions of the Edwards campaign) to whatever issue you want to say is the "most important" -- Iraq, Iran, presidential power, debates over domestic policy, and everything in between. How the national media reports on all of these matters, which sources they depict as credible, and the factions that influence and shape that reporting is still the single most influential factor in the outcome of all political disputes.

We are in the position we are in as a country because there has been really no effective counterweight to the lowly, deceitful and filth-peddling right-wing network which has dominated our political discourse and the media's coverage of it. That is clearly changing -- slowly perhaps, though still meaningfully....

Edwards was able to reconsider his original decision to fire Amanda and Melissa because the blogosphere gave him backing. (And I suspect his very smart wife was involved in working with him as he came to the right decision in the face of this manufactured firestorm because she knows and participates in the blogging world herself.) Nevertheless, this particular tempest in the teapot did its dirty work on the John Edwards campaign, by asserting that he was associating with extremists via the "liberal bloggers are bad" meme (using Malkin and Donohue, neither who would be considered respectable arbitors of civil discourse or political correctness in any sane world). This a story was designed to make him look weak if he buckled down to the bullying of the right wing machine. But when he decided to stick with his bloggers, the right wing can now run with a new meme that Edwards has given in to the rabid rabbits that make up the progressive blogosphere. Talk about a no win story for Edwards, just because he had asked two smart and gutsy gals to join his campaign. What can the candidates learn from this episode on how to get in front of nasty attacks from the right wing? And again, how do we help them?

The final story is yet one more example of the way the mainstream media will collaborate with the adminstration as they try to frighten and anger the public in to backing a war with Iran just like they did before attacking Iraq. Glenn Greenwald took apart the disingenous piece by Michael Gordon in today's NY Times which basically parrots everything the Bush administration wants to say to justify action against Iran. Using only off the record administration officials and similiarly nameless experts, Gordon writes a story about how Iran is responsible for the destructive bombs that are killing Americans and Iraqis. (Wait! Does that mean we are now also at war with the Shias as well as the Sunnis and the al Qaeda? Who precisely is for the US then besides the Kurds in Iraq?)

What's shameful is that this is not the first time Michael Gordon played a part in taking the country into war by essentially being the mouthpiece of the administration along with Judith Miller in the runup to the Iraq war resolution. Now the NY Times is letting Gordon do it again. Is he or are they incapable of learning from the past? Or is he such a tool of the administration (and the kewl kids) that he is willing to help justify a war against Iran because when his friends in the administration and the Pentagon feed him their lies he thinks it's because he is such a smart reporter who can be trusted to get the real scoop?

We have some incredibly good people in the blogosphere that are able to provide real perspective and insight on the media on how these things work. But even so, the number of false stories and lies that have dominated our news these past few days is really worrying because it shows just how powerful the forces are against us having any chance to rescue our country from the course it is on. Furthermore, the stories have done their dirty work despite the diligent work of the bloggers. And even more important, how do we get past these distracting lies so we can actually work on the real problems we have to tackle when the MSM is so deeply corrupted?

Posted by Mary at February 10, 2007 01:55 PM | Media | TrackBack(3) | Technorati links |

The trash-talking Stalinists at Pandagon have removed or changed all the posts but you can still find archived copies of the Pandagon posts:

Here are a few of those archived Pandagon examples:
(Wonder if this comment will get posted on your balanced report???)

Vitriolic Lefty Post of the Day

When Lefty Blogs Attack

Hysterical Leftist Post of the Day

The Marching Morons

Posted by: Faultline USA at February 10, 2007 05:59 PM

Faultline, pot calling, on line one.

Posted by: Thomas Ware at February 11, 2007 11:15 AM

Faultline - it's your brain cells that are faulty. The phony dustup about Pandagon's "missing" archives has already been explained ad nauseum, and most of America doesn't care or even pay attention to these "wacko blogger" tirades from the likes of real Stalinists like Malkin and Donohue.

Furthermore, the two bloggers in question are not blogging on Edwards site, they are managing and administrating the site, which - as experienced bloggers - is something they know how to do.

This phony story has no legs.

Posted by: shoephone at February 11, 2007 11:19 AM

I have to say that Faultline USA doesn't have much more than a "boy are liberals dumb" argument, because from reading his/her post, the only conclusion is that he/she believes that the MSM is liberal. Sure it is. And sure, reporters would never, ever collaborate with the White House or the right wing. It takes some pretty powerful koolaid to believe that today's pundits are liberal.

And no, I don't need to delete your comment. It's better for us to see just how silly your argument is.

Posted by: Mary at February 11, 2007 02:33 PM