Today’s Quote: How the GOP Really Won the House in 2010
Big money talked and the local media walked.
“Unchecked by even rudimentary campaign finance regulation, unchallenged by a journalism sufficient to identify and expose abuses of the electoral process and abetted by commercial broadcasters that this year pocketed $3 billion in political ad revenues, the money-and-media election complex was a nearly unbeatable force in 2010.
“Of fifty-three competitive House districts where Rove and his compatriots backed Republicans with ‘independent’ expenditures that exceeded those made on behalf of Democrats-often by more than $1 million per district, according to Public Citizen-the Republicans won fifty-one. Roughly three-quarters of all GOP House gains came in districts where independent expenditures by groups like the Chamber of Commerce and Rove’s American Crossroads gave Republican candidates, some of them virtual unknowns until the outside money flowed in, the advantage. The money is powerful, of course, but that power is supercharged because of the decay, and in many cases disappearance, of independent and skeptical journalism at the state and regional levels, where elections are decided. Campaign narratives used to be created by reporters who, imperfectly but seriously, pulled together the multiple threads of an election season to give voters perspective. Now that narrative is driven by commercials-millions of them, most negative. The narrative for the most part still comes from broadcast and cable TV stations, as it has for some time, but it is now produced and paid for by economic elites that seek to define not just the results of an election but the scope and character of government itself. To neglect the money-and-media election complex or, worse yet, to imagine that progressive forces can compete within it will make the 2012 election season look like 2010 on steroids. Determined and dramatic responses are the only options if we hope to maintain anything more than the remnants of a functioning democracy.”
— John Nichols & Robert McChesney, “The Money & Media Election Complex,” The Nation, Nov. 12, 2010.