Why the Left Has No Answer to the Right Wing Lie Machine

The regressive bias of the corporate media is starkly revealed by the coverage, and the non-coverage, of the public demonstrations of last month. When a couple of thousand tea-party or gun-rights enthusiasts show up on the Mall in Washington, or across the Potomac in Virginia, the mainstream media is there to cover them en masse. But when up to ten thousand protesters gather on Wall Street, or fifty thousand jam downtown Los Angeles to protest the Arizona show your papers law, these events might just as well have taken place on the far side of the moon.


Photo: dobrych / flickr; Edited: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t)

Written by Ernest Partridge for Truthout

An Uneven Contest:

What if there were a great debate concerning the nature and future of American society, and only one side showed up? That approximately describes the condition of the U. S. media today. The right wing is operating a super-charged carnival of hype, hysteria and hoopla, while the left struggles along with a pipsqueek sideshow: a few magazines like The Nation, Mother Jones and The American Prospect, with minuscule circulation among the already converted, some tolerated columnists like Paul Krugman, Bob Herbert, and Frank Rich, and of course theres Shultz, Olbermann and Maddow on MSNBC.

Meanwhile, one by one, the lights are going out: in January, Air America Radio fell silent, and last month David Broncoccios outstanding investigative program, NOW, closed shop. Last Friday, Bill Moyers Journal on PBS broadcast its final program. Shultz-Olbermann-Maddow remain on MSNBC at the sufferance of the owners and managers of NBC and MicroSoft, while Comcast is attempting a takeover of NBC. If successful, how long will this lone outpost of progressive cable-TV commentary remain?

The good news is that the audience size of FOX News is vastly over-rated. On a good night, Beck or Hannity or OReilly will be seen by three million viewers. Thats less than one percent of the U. S. population. The worse news is that the progressive voices at MSNBC draw about a third as many.

The influence of FOX News is amplified as their antics and outrages birtherism, climate change denial, baseless accusations of socialism or even fascism are uncritically reported far and wide by the mainstream media (MSM). In addition to FOX, the airwaves are crammed solid with right-wing talk shows about 90%, by some counts. Leading these is Rush Limbaugh, with an audience estimated from fifteen to thirty million.

To be sure, there are many admirable broadcast voices on the left, in addition to the MSNBC team: Thom Hartmann, Amy Goodman, Bill Maher, Stephanie Miller, Bill Press, Mike Papantonio, Cenk Uygur, and Randi Rhodes. But their messages are uncoordinated, dispersed, and poorly promoted. And unlike FOX and Limbaugh, etc., there is almost no corporate media amplification of progressive talk radio and cable TV. Strange to say, some of the most incisive liberal commentary seems to originate with the comedians, Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. (A review and assessment of these efforts deserves a separate essay. Watch this space).

The regressive bias of the corporate media is starkly revealed by the coverage, and the non-coverage, of the public demonstrations of last month. When a couple of thousand tea-party or gun-rights enthusiasts show up on the Mall in Washington, or across the Potomac in Virginia, the mainstream media is there to cover them en masse. But when up to ten thousand protesters gather on Wall Street, or fifty thousand jam downtown Los Angeles to protest the Arizona show your papers law, these events might just as well have taken place on the far side of the moon.

If the MSM takes any notice of progressive talk radio or cable TV, it is usually to portray a false equivalence with the bloviators on the right, as an implied excuse for the latters rhetorical excesses and outright lies. Amazingly, that false equivalence was repeated last week by the President himself, at his University of Michigan commencement address.

There is no equivalence….

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