Recently, I wrote a lot about what’s wrong with the media. Today, we’ll explore what we can do about it.
The first thing, obviously, is to be well informed and support responsible, accurate news sources.
I wrote a whole blog about it recently, which you can check out here, everything from podcasts, to newspapers, to online blogs and local radio–like XRAY.FM! Other’s I need to mention here since I didn’t in my first post: Slate, the Economist, Democratic Underground… I know I’m forgetting some–please reply with a comment on the bottom if you have other suggestions!
Turn off television news: it’s garbage. And yeah, everyone knows Fox News is terrible, but CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and NBC aren’t much better. They were all happy to give Trump as much coverage as he could want and have bought into the false equivalency mindset, big league. TV news is the most salacious, scandalized stuff you can find, and even though there are a few good TV pundits out there like Joy Reid, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, and Chris Hayes, I have no problem throwing them all under the bus–the last time I tried to watch Hayes’ show All In, they’d pre-empted it with one of Trump’s victory tours. So much for MSNBC.
Also, and this is going to upset some of you: turn off NPR. Or listen, but don’t give them any more money–and tell them why you aren’t donating. Because NPR’s flagship programs, Morning Edition and All Things Considered, have become the radio equivalent of mainstream television news, especially when it comes to politics. They peddle false equivalency, often air fact-free stories that give credence to Republican positions, and are more than happy to talk about Trump non-stop to fill air time. Ultimately, like with television news, if you only listen to NPR, you won’t have a good idea of what’s going on.
Indeed, if you’re thinking of a litmus test for the media, ask the following question: how often did (newspaper, radio program, website, blog, etc.) talk about Republican obstruction, voter suppression, or the unprecedented move by Mitch McConnell (my current nominee for worst person on the planet–I know, not Trump, a surprise) not to even hold so much as a hearing for a Supreme Court nominee an entire year before a Presidential election?
If they didn’t talk about those things, or if they rarely cover Climate Change, that media source isn’t worth it.
Unfortunately, simply understanding what’s bad and what’s good, in terms of our news, isn’t enough. Because there’s a huge contingent of people who don’t care if their information is accurate or truthful, they just want to agree with it.
They’re called Republicans.
Again, I could cite a bunch of evidence to support this claim, but I don’t think that’s necessary anymore. What’s necessary is a strategy to fight that mindset–perhaps our most important fight in the post-truth, Trump era.
The first method we should employ is a Socratic method of questioning. For example, when talking to someone, who say, gets their information from Fox News, you might ask: Do you think Fox News would tell you if Donald Trump did something really bad or the Democrats did something really good?
If they say yes, then fact check them: what’s the unemployment rate? Did it go up or down under Obama? What about the stock market? Up or down under Obama? Who won the popular vote, Trump or Clinton? Chances are, a person who only watches Fox News and/or consumes Right Wing Media isn’t going to be able to get those answers right–if they do, all you can ask is: what the hell?
But if they don’t–or more likely–if they start spouting off about the “liberal media,” go back to the original question: if all you do is consume news you agree with or approve of, how will you know if something bad happens–or hell, how will they know what’s going on, period? Indeed, that’s an idea to drill down on, because most people know stuff happens that they don’t like or agree with, and my guess is most people also know it’s fundamentally wrong to consume news that way.
In any case, we need to directly challenge the view that it’s OK to live in an echo chamber–and I want to make a point here, because there are a lot of liberals suggesting that we too, live in an echo chamber, and that’s wrong. The New York Times, Washington Post, and most of the other news sources I cited in the good section don’t ignore reality or blatantly lie on a regular basis. They may get things wrong from time to time, and liberals may consume more opinions from liberal pundits, but that’s not the same as what happens in the Right Wing Media.
That’s because the mission of Right Wing Media, unlike the “liberal media” is not to inform, but to anger and misinform. It’s the only way Republicans can win. Want proof?
I’ve been asking a question for a long time, and so far, no one yet has been able to provide a satisfactory answer: can you name one major piece of legislation in the past 20-30 years Republicans have passed through Congress intended to improve the lives of ordinary Americans?
Don’t scoff–it’s not a ridiculous question–if it was, surely someone would have wanted to slap me, a smart-ass uppity liberal, across the face with the answer. And yet, I’m still waiting.
So why do people continue to vote for Republicans? Because they don’t know what the hell is going on. In our post-election malaise a lot of us have wondered openly, “how did Trump supporters ignore the racism and bigotry?” A large part of the answer–for the ones who actually aren’t racist–is that they didn’t know about it.
As far as I know, Fox News didn’t make a big deal of the time Donald Trump made fun of a disabled reporter, and I’m certain there was no discussion on Right Wing Radio about how he was saying racist stuff on the campaign trail, or that his business acumen was questionable at best, or about any number of other characteristics that would disqualify him for President.
No. What they heard was that Hillary Clinton was a horrible, corrupt, liar–that if you cross the Clintons you’ll get killed–that they had ties to the Saudis and all other kinds of scary people. Emails, emails, emails. Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi. At best, if Trump’s trash was brought up, it was downplayed or spun to make it sound like an unfair attack of the liberal media.
But that’s not what happened in the “liberal media”–our supposed echo chamber. Quite the contrary. The mainstream media spent more time reporting on Clinton’s emails than on her policy proposals. They implied that Comey’s letter a week before the election was damning–even though they had no information to support that assertion. And there were multiple stories all over the place about the Clinton Foundation, her time as Secretary of State, potential conflicts of interest, prior actions, and votes as Senator and First Lady. The “liberal media” is NOT an echo chamber, and even if you go someplace like DailyKos or ChuckingRocks, known to lean pretty far left, it’s not as if we lie or omit the truth about what’s going on or regularly indulge in conspiratorial thinking.
So please, let’s not pretend there’s an echo chamber on the left like there is on the right–that’s bullshit–the same false equivalency we get from NPR and the like when reporting on politics.
LET REPUBLICANS DISAVOW TRUMP AND THEIR PARTY
Wow, that was a rant that took this post in a whole different direction. Let’s end with some kinder and gentler: one thing we absolutely have to do as liberals/Democrats/sane Americans, is allow Republicans and Trump supporters to disavow Trump and/or the Republican Party. Because it looks like this administration is going to be a big, fat, disappointing disaster–not just for uppity liberals, but for the very voters who put Trump in office.
So instead of saying stuff like: “how could you vote for Trump? YOU OWN HIM!” What we should be saying is, “hey, what do you think about the Republican plan to privatize Medicare and Social Security? How do you feel about a banker from Goldman Sachs being in charge of the Treasury? What would you say if Hillary Clinton had received help from the Russian government to get elected? How would you feel if Trump had won the popular vote by almost three million, but still wasn’t President because of the Electoral College?”
Let Trump supporters and Republicans disown their leader and party. Some of them won’t, but a lot of them will. Because Republican polices don’t work–unless you’re a billionaire.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays y’all.
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