In an effort to pay for some previous life transgression, I watch the 700 Club at least two to three times per week. I also subject myself to regular doses of Rush Limbaugh and the minions of FOX News in an effort to balance out all the other news media I consume.
One thing I have noticed coming out of the far-right camp is an escalation of rhetoric that espouses the belief that political moderates are really éliberal.é It really is a smart game plan. If the ultra religious right begins to reference the moderates as liberals, it brings people who identify themselves as moderate closer to the right.
But before we get bogged down in political theory, letés go back a few generations in news anchors and examine what fair and balanced meant in 1969.
In 1969, a man named Walter Cronkite ruled the news airwaves. At the end of each broadcast he would announce the number of dead, wounded and missing in the Viet Nam war. Most of his reporting was asking the question that is still asked to this very day; éWhy are we in Viet Nam?é If Dan Rather asks the question, éWhy are we in Afghanistan?é he would be relieved of his multimillion dollar contract and would be crucified by the ultra-right wing as yet another example of liberal media run amok.
I would submit to you that our current crop of broadcast news anchors are moderate in their reporting. They go out of their way to report daily events without upsetting the ratings or any singular audience faction. This has marginalized the news into écorporate newsé and left sharp reporting and thinking to other venues. Cronkite never had to deal with ratings, he just reported the facts, even though they may have been uncomfortable or inconvenient.
So what topics are the thorn in the side of the ultra-right? The right wants to shape opinion against the realities of global warming, ecological conservation, energy conservation, reproductive rights, and equal rights for minority religions, just to name a few. But I see all of these issues, ALL of them, as moderate issues. To claim that clean air is a liberal, bed-wetting battle cry is to show ignorance in what Leftist really means. If clean air is a leftist issue, then what would you define oppressive political communism as?
If one reads international papers and resources, one would plainly see that American corporate news is hardly liberal. Whitewashed and strife with lowest common denominator reporting, but not liberal. With easy access to the BBC, online versions of international newspapers and web-based independent media, the argument of liberal bias quickly ceases to hold water.
This demonization of the political middle is, I believe, one more effort to keep white Christian conservative Americans in power. If the radical right can get people to believe clean air is a bad idea and anti-business, then the game plan is successful and you can maintain political power.
The radical right game plan has many collateral benefits. Now that broadcast media is regulated by ratings alone, it has emerged as corporate media, not democratic media. As an subconscious reaction to being exposed to ratings battles, the corporate news media tends to protect the corporate status quo. Evidence of this is the bombardment of missing children stories to replace the corporate abuse stories like Enron. The number of children missing last year is twice that of this year, yet now corporate news is saturated with missing children stories and not corporate abuse stories.
The White House must be relieved.
But nothing lasts forever. No matter how many people work for the White Houseés war propaganda machine, they cannot overwhelm the independent media movement. I have seen stories crop up in a private email, then see the story spread to email lists, personal blogs, independent news sites like Nausea Manifesto and Indymedia where it becomes a meme in the minds of the public. And after the online world has discussed the issue to death for four weeks will we see the story pop up as énewsé in corporate media outlets.
On the other hand, with the phenomenal amount of content out there, it is difficult to ascertain what is news and what is trash. I have a friend who routinely publishes what are seemingly outlandish stories. However, he has a knack of being six months ahead of corporate news. You can set your watch by him. A Pentagon report speaking of capturing Saudi oilfields, saw it months ago. The Bush Administration ignored the Clinton Administrations dire warnings of Al Qaeda, saw it ten months ago. The web has turned into an almost organic creature. The ebb and flow of free information fuels true democracies. The only way to maintain political power in the future is to either begin working for the people again or outlaw blogs.
And if you outlaw blogs, only outlaws will have them.
Look for my picture in post offices soon.
Storm Bear Williams has been involved in politics and political activism since 1980. He was a Presidential candidate in 2000 and received 12% of the Reform Party primary vote; all of it write-in. Mr. Williams went on to form the Pagan Unity Campaign and write the Pagan Bill of Rights in an effort to extend religious and civil rights for Pagans living in America. Currently, Mr. Williams edits the Nausea Manifesto; a political website that has been in operation for ten years.