Sean-Paul Kelley | San Antonio | May 7
The Agonist – Like most bloggers I have some serious problems with traditional media outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, ABC, CNN, NBC and Fox News. (Note, they also provide most of the grub we mooching bloggers feed off of and do a lot of excellent work that blogs couldn’t live without.)
My real problem is with the term “mainstream media,” especially as it relates to progressive bloggers.
There’s no question that MSM is meant to be a perjorative, as in many instances it should be. The media has a lot of failures it needs to explain.
I just think there is a better term out there. And in the long run it could go a long way in aiding the Progressive cause.
More after the jump.
Ellen at Bopnews comments with some great ideas of her own!
Update: The Left Coaster disagrees and has a long, thoughtful reply up. Worth a read. I’ll respond in a subsequent post.
We all know the media has serious, dysfunctional institutional biases. These biases are not, per se, conservative or liberal. First and foremost they’re corporate.
I think the label Progressives should use needs to reflect on these biases and emphasize the danger they pose to our democracy. It needs to sum up the problem succintly, not amorphously like the vague and trite “Mainstream Media.” As Al Franken once said, “saying the media has a liberal bias is like saying Al Qaeda has a bias for hummus. It might be true but it’s not the point.” (I’m paraphrasing, of course.)
It’s the corporate interests on Wall Street, the lure of easy money and suckers, not phantasmal liberal biases, that led MSNBC to give Kramer his own godawful show.
Corporate interests prevented ABC from doing an expose on Disney. Corporate interests, afraid of loosing important tax abatements in Flori-duh prevented Disney from releasing Moore’s F-9/11. Corporate interests kept Jack Welch’s outrageous retirement package out of the spotlight for so long.
And of course corporate biases led to the failure to report adequately on Iraq. In an attempt to outscoop their competitors corporate interests led to shoddy reporting by Judith Miller at the Times. Same for Dan Rather at CBS. It wasn’t liberal bias that led to the Rathergate fiasco. We all knew the outlines of Bush’s draft-dodging. Rather didn’t report anything we didn’t already know. He simple sensationalized what we knew for ratings, i.e. profits. And it was the profit motive which led to all the flag waving, glitzy patriotic newscasts, sotball questions and the general race to the bottom that was the run-up to the Iraq war.
These weren’t liberal biases running amok. It was the profit motive in its most pure, simple and unadulterated form.
There are more examples out there, but these suffice. It’s not the “mainstream” that’s hurting America, as John Stewart would say. There isn’t enough mainstream right now. The center is out. It’s the extremes that rule.
The problem with the media is corporate. So let’s stop calling it the MSM and call it what it is: monopoly media.
Yes, monopoly implies unfair, predatory and often-times dangerous practices. This won’t play well in Peoria, as the saying used to go. And that’s the point. Creating an environment that exposes monopoly media’s weaknesses should be central to the Progressive cause.
In the end, I believe enough usage of the term “monopoly media” might create an environment where the big media monopolies can be broken up.
The media in this country is an industry ruled by economics. Let the market sort it out and restore competition. Break ‘em up. Competition is good and nothing could be better for the health of our republic in the long-term.