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April 08, 2007

A Plea For Sanity

Dear Progressive Blurrrgosphere,

I realize it's enjoyable to make fun of Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor of the Washington Post, for publishing this column by Kathleen "Less Crazy Than Jeffrey Dahmer!" Parker. (If you haven't seen it already, Parker is arguing that we should make "common cause" with Iran's Ahmadinejad in keeping ladies out of the military.) And indeed, I've engaged in similar activity many times myself.

Still, we're in danger of missing what's important here. And what's important is not Fred Hiatt. Hiatt has his job because Donald Graham, the Post's publisher, likes what Hiatt does. If Hiatt woke up one day and suddenly decided to stop publishing the insane, it wouldn't be long before he was out of work, replaced by someone who was eager to run columns by lunatics.

In other words, the problem with the US media isn't all the non-reality-based editors and producers who hire the Kathleen Parkers and Tim Russerts and Sean Hannitys. It's the right-wing billionaires who hire those editors and producers. (Or if you really want to depart from acceptable discussion, the problem is an economic system that allows only right-wing billionaires to own newspapers and TV networks.)

So I come before you today with this plea: let's focus less on the sock puppets, and more on the hands.

Posted at April 8, 2007 10:58 AM | TrackBack

(Or if you really want to depart from acceptable discussion, the problem is an economic system that allows only right-wing billionaires to own newspapers and TV networks.)

and don't forget the radio. pretty powerful, that. pity it's all in the hands of clear channel. isn't life in america so free?!?!

the whack-a-mole syndrome seems to have found a very strong niche among the blogs. everyone focuses on the symptoms, not the disease. and in fact we're probably doing the media people a great favour by helping them decide who gets to write and who gets axed by the amount of response they receive.

Posted by: almostinfamous at April 8, 2007 11:21 AM

let's focus less on the sock puppets, and more on the hands.

Whose attitude is, "Talk to the hand."

Posted by: Nell at April 8, 2007 12:08 PM

"Corporate media."

We should call it what it is. The media is not "mainstream", and it's not "traditional," either. We missed a tremendous opportunity to call it what it is when Atrios led us to the wrong sobriquet. The media is corporate.

I'm not a particular fan of his, but on this one John Edwards has it right. There are two Americas. The propaganda spewed by the massive print and broadcast media outlets is neither conservative nor liberal, but rather whatever serves the corporation.

"The corporate media today reports that staying poor and dying young is the honorable way to help the wealthy."

Posted by: don at April 8, 2007 12:14 PM

but it's a lot easier to take on a person who has published arguments you can quote and attack than to pick up where media activists have been for decades, fighting media consolidation and corporatism. you don't need a lot of information at hand to go after individuals for bad ideas they've spoken aloud.

this is something bill moyers has been following aggressively since, when did he start, at least before the telecom act of '96. people should be aware though that the libertarian streak of netizens comes down hard, as an internal self-censorship among bloggers, on opposition to ownership as opposed to malfeasance, among reporters. the lack of independent behavior among major media sources comes straight out of being dependent. feeling comfortable with the idea of the corporation as a form of social progression. telling stories from that point of view.

Posted by: hibiscus at April 8, 2007 12:44 PM

*as opposed to opposition to malfeasance

Posted by: hibiscus at April 8, 2007 12:45 PM

CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PERSONS, they are PROPERITY owned by stockholders, but we've always had them and we've always have had The Yellow Press. It's just that there is more of incorporated yellow presses out spreading manuer at this time. (possibly because business is good and there is a high demand for manuer, well spread) I firmly believe in TWO AMERICAS, but not in the sense of corporate America vs Regular ole America. These corporations are invested in by us (mainly) as stockholders. If you go after a corporation, and your cousin or wife of a friend has stock in it then who, essentially, are you going after? Really, this is the same old situation we've ALWAYS had, only like everything else, in high gear. If I may but observer, WE AMERICANS will devour buckets of horseshit, with a genuine smile, and five minuets later, PREACH it as the gospel truth.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at April 8, 2007 01:22 PM

That's why we need to elect MORE Democrats. The GOP is run by liars and those eager to lie for them. The Democrats offer THE TRUTH. So, the more Democrats in office and in the media, the more TRUTH. It's pretty simple, actually.

Posted by: Kimber Kaye at April 8, 2007 02:07 PM

Einstein supposedly said, "Everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler." To say "the Democrats offer The Truth" is, I am afraid, too simple. Does Joe Lieberman offer The Truth? Does Joe Biden offer The Truth? Does Hillary Clinton offer The Truth?

By the way, I am a registered Democrat. I DO offer the truth. But as the saying goes, - the truth may make you free, but it may make you very uncomfortable as well.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at April 8, 2007 03:15 PM

I agree with Mistah Charley. The majority of democrats are part of the problem not the solution. They seem more worried about elections than what their constituents want yet what good is their being in office when they contribute to wars performing for corporate America rather than acting on the wishes of the majority of their constituents?

On journalists who write propaganda for their bosses like Donald Graham it is quite true that the Donald Grahams of the world are at the root of what is wrong with the news media. Yet I don’t believe that taking a good look at some of these columns and dissecting them is totally fruitless. It might encourage others to look askance at what is being said and not just accept it as truth as many people do.

Posted by: rob payne at April 8, 2007 04:44 PM

if anyone would care to offer me the truth, i have some extra money from last month, i could pay you a little for it.

Posted by: hibiscus at April 8, 2007 10:56 PM

Here is the truth,

From ABC no less:

"We're not going to vote to cut funding, period," Levin said. "But what we should do, and we're going to do, is continue to press this president to put some pressure on the Iraqi leaders to reach a political settlement."

And this:

"We're going to fund the troops. We always have," Levin said. He added, "We're very strong in supporting the troops, but we're also strong on putting pressure on the Iraqi leaders to live up to their own commitments without that political settlement on their part, there is no military solution."

Of course what Senator Levin (democrat) does not tell you is that there already is money in the pipeline to pay for returning the troops home. But that won’t keep Levin from supporting the troops. He supports the troops so much he is willing to let them stay in Iraq and rot.

Posted by: rob payne at April 8, 2007 11:57 PM

The point about "mad billionaires" is well said and can still be well documented with a little digging. The root problem of dominance of the press by a handful, however, goes to the laws which govern corporations and corporate activities and that give corporations an unfair advantage over other, equally important, competing interests, such as the people's right to know the unvarnished truth.

Posted by: Sam Thornton at April 9, 2007 12:33 PM

While I understand the desire to keep the whole wide word on-topic about the Iraq occupation, try to remember that many of us have other concerns which are being brought up in this context. The issue of women in combat is not a sock puppet, it is a matter of grave concern and ongoing controversy to many people. Your reflexive answer, of course, is that war and armies are the problem, and you are almost certainly correct.

Unfortunately, war (and it's accessories) are part-and-parcel of the independant state. It is, in fact, mankind's second-oldest (after religion) institution. The civilized world has made great strides in the last century in reducing the harm inflicted on bystanders and even soldiers, but the institution remains in place. Until someone can forward a serious proposal for it's abolition, harm-reduction remains a topic for serious debate.

Posted by: mojrim at April 9, 2007 01:00 PM

The civilized world has made great strides in the last century in reducing the harm inflicted on bystanders and even soldiers, but the institution remains in place.

Quite the contrary - the "civilised world" has made great strides in the last century in maximising the harm inflicted on bystanders. To argue otherwise is simply ahistorical. More innocent bystanders were killed in wars in the 20thC than in the whole of previous human history combined.

Posted by: Dunc at April 10, 2007 06:18 AM

Not nescessarily. While the raw numbers have climbed, as a fraction of populations is has been declining steadily since the invention of organized warfare.

Pick up Gwynne Dyer's "War: The Lethal Custom." Well written and utterly unsentimental, it's the third edition, the first of which was based on his BBC series in the 80's.

Posted by: mojrim at April 17, 2007 06:46 PM