INSTALLMENT THE THIRD: Neo-fascism’s unopposed rise, the MSM’s purge of liberals, and the parade of upward-failing toadies to power!
(My response to “Doc” continued…)
OH, THE DEGRADATION I HAVE SEEN!
In short, from the Clarence Thomas hearings to the impeachment of Bill Clinton to the incredibly dramatic and consequential 2000 election cycle, I’d grown increasingly obsessed with politics: I’d seen the presidency brazenly stolen by the most dangerous presidential candidate I had ever seen. It changed me. So did 9/11, and its nightmarish aftermath, with the U.S. plunging headlong into neo-fascism.
With dozens of political books and articles to read, I took jobs that advertised, “80% of your time will be your own” (just sit at a desk, walk the property, do some small, menial tasks, and answer the phone/door, etc.). I did so because I felt that my country was plunging off a cliff, more irrational by the day, with the GOP, especially, abandoning any semblance of comity and civility, embracing the most dangerous form of politics around: the Paranoid Style (reactionary, no holds barred, treating Democrats and critics like traitors).
But Bush/Cheney, given free reign (and no opposition) — given enough rope to hang themselves — imploded, utterly discrediting the neo-fascist agenda… before the Democrats needlessly rescued it.
It took me years more of observation and study to understand that the Democrats were well on their way toward becoming the all-time champs of the radical right’s neo-fascist/purely corporatist agenda. It was Democrats, not Republicans, who’d successfully passed the most destructive legislation going, including “trade” pacts like NAFTA, the retiring of Glass-Steagall, the prohibition of regulating derivatives, “three strikes you’re out” laws (ending judicial discretion), and worse — monstrous laws that the repugnant Republicans simply couldn’t pass… because people trusted that neoliberal Democrats bore some resemblance to traditional ones… even though the resemblance was merely rhetorical, ultimately a deception.
With grief in my heart, I’ve watched in real time the self-inflicted degradation and near-total corruption of the media institutions I’d come to know so intimately.
THE PURGE OF GENUINE LIBERALS AND PROGRESSIVES:
I’ve come to understand that it’s not the reporters who are the problem, generally, but the story-spiking, content-dictating publishers, editors in chief, producers, and newsroom managers who were destroying these institutions. These right-wing ideologues fire anyone who dares commit the crime of journalism that “comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.”
For instance: Phil Donahue, fired (MSNBC); Seymour Hersh, forced out (The New Yorker); Glenn Greenwald, forced out (first Salon, then the Guardian); Chris Hedges, forced to resign (NYT); Ed Schultz, fired (MSNBC); Josh Fox, permanently disinvited (MSNBC); Prof. Stephen F. Cohen, America’s top Russia expert, virtually blackballed (across the board); Cenk Uygur, forced out (MSNBC); Julian Assange, demonized and thrown to the wolves (across the board, but especially by the NYT and Guardian, which once relied so heavily on WikiLeaks’ revelations — 100% of which have withstood scrutiny — whether exposing the crimes of Republicans, Democrats, U.S. corporations, or the CIA). And this is a partial list, as John Loftus (blackballed former media darling) and Marc Lamont Hill (fired by CNN) could attest.
And then there are all the brilliant people, celebrated the world over, who are personae non gratae at virtually every mainstream American news outlet: Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges, Eric Snowden, Norman Finkelstein, Randall Robinson, Michelle Alexander, Glen Ford, Bill Binney, Ray McGovern, Colleen Rowley, Col. Ann Wright, John Perkins, Vanessa Beeley, Tariq Ali, Richard D. Wolff, Eva Bartlett, Ralph Nader, Mahmood Mamdani, Phyllis Bennis, Jeremy Scahill, Amy Goodman…
And the parade of radical right-wingers the mainstream media has given a platform to and sought to normalize in recent years is equally jaw-dropping: Glenn Beck, Megyn “No, Virginia, Santa is WHITE… and so’s Jesus!” Kelly, Erick Erickson, Michael Savage, Rich Lowry, Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Joe Scarborough, Laura Ingraham, Lou Dobbs, Andrew Breitbart, Matt Drudge, Rick Santorum, Dinesh D’Souza, etc.
It is undeniable that the corporate media has been lurching rightward for decades, abandoning traditional journalistic standards and embracing the info-tainment approach. Ratings don’t hurt, but making viable the venal, obedient, vacuous news personality who is willing to hawk any narrative and parrot any anonymous government official… that’s the real name of the game.
Keeping Wall Street and the ownership class happy is paramount… which leaves very little room for progressive news coverage.
FAILING UPWARD, ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP:
Have you noticed that the best way to get promoted in the corporate media is to unquestioningly read the teleprompter and do “stenography journalism” — carrying water for the owners, selling the propaganda du jour with a straight face? Or that all the folks who fail in this corrupted industry, consistently getting every major story wrong — Wolf Blitzer, Bill O’Reilly, Judy Woodruff, Michael Gordon, Tom Brokaw, Sean Hannity, Gwen Ifill, Tom Friedman, William Kristol, Brian Williams, et al — fail upward? It seems there are promotions galore for these blithe courtesans to power, including the journalists who turn out to be CIA flacks — and the contributors whose financial ties to the war industry (the fossil fuel industry; the health insurance industry/PhRMA, etc.) are virtually never disclosed.
And what does the news industry have for the truth tellers? Hastily delivered pink slips! Every single time. Without exception. Without fail.
The same iron rule goes for policymakers: Larry Summers (bigoted failure), Tim Geithner (Wall Street’s absentee regulator), Gen. David Petraeus (genocidal torturer and failure), Gen. Stanley McChrystal (another serial torturer and fuckup), L. Paul Bremer (occupied-Iraq’s inept overlord), Sen./Sec. Hillary Clinton (the ultimate Democratic neocon and transparent Wall Street toady), Sec. Robert Gates (bag man for high crimes, from Iran/Contra to “Operation Iraqi Freedom”), Otto Reich (convicted propagandist), Elliot Abrams (ditto), DCI George Tenet (“slam dunk” intelligence made to order), Henry Kissinger (the Machiavelli of mass-murder)…
We’ve gotten to the point where the vast majority of people occupying positions of high power are serial screw-ups… only their colossal blunders are committed on the behalf of the warmongering, Muslim-slaughtering, society-plundering, democracy-intolerant ownership class. They’re faithful to the privatization/deregulation-crazed oligarchs and the Corporatocracy they’ve built. Therefore, they are promoted, by whichever media giant or administration employs them.
Don’t misunderstand me: A lot of excellent journalism still takes place at such outlets as the New York Times and Washington Post, The New Yorker, PBS and NPR, The Nation, The Intercept, and various other sites. But that’s anomalous, not emblematic. And there are countless ways that these media operations function monolithically, virtually in lockstep. They spread the same bogus narratives, citing the same sources. They bury the same explosive facts and banish the same truth tellers.
The establishment’s enemies are unfailingly their enemies, the establishment’s priorities their priorities. Systematically and universally, they serve the interests of the top .001% — and the moment they stray, they’re fired.
END PART III
NEXT: Continuing my response to “Doc,” recalling the stolen 2000 presidential election, elucidating the monolithic media and it’s subservience to the perpetual war machine…