Your liberal media

Please read this (which I first spotted on Atrios, but which is turning up everywhere, now). Peter Daou is so right:

What’s the common thread running through the past half-decade of Bush’s presidency? What’s the nexus between the Swift-boating of Kerry, the Swift-boating of Murtha, and the guilt-by-association between Democrats and terrorists? Why has a seemingly endless string of administration scandals faded into oblivion? Why do Democrats keep losing elections? It’s this: the traditional media, the trusted media, the “neutral” media, have become the chief delivery mechanism of potent anti-Democratic and pro-Bush storylines. And the Democratic establishment appears to be either ignorant of this political quandary or unwilling to fight it.
What’s so dumbfounding to progressive netroots activists, who clearly see the role of the traditional media in perpetuating these storylines – and are taking concrete action (here, here, and here) to remedy the problem – is that Democratic politicians, strategists, and surrogates have internalized these narratives and play into them, publicly wringing their hands over how to fix their “muddled” message, how to deal with Bush’s “strength” on national security, how to talk about “values.”

It’s become a self-fulfilling cycle, with Democrats reinforcing anti-Dem myths because they can’t imagine any other explanation for the apparent lack of resonance of their message. Out of desperation, they resort to hackneyed, focus-grouped slogans in a vain attempt to break through the filter.

It’s simple: if your core values and beliefs and positions, no matter how reasonable, how mainstream, how correct, how ethical, are filtered to the public through the lens of a media that has inoculated the public against your message, and if the media is the public’s primary source of information, then NOTHING you say is going to break through and change that dynamic. Which explains, in large measure, the Dems’ sorry electoral failures.
To illustrate the power of the media to shape public opinion, simply imagine what would happen if the cable nets and the print media and the elite punditocracy treated the warrantless spying scandal with the same round-the-clock intensity as the Swift-boating of Kerry or the Natalee Holloway disappearance. Suppose Lewinsky-style headlines blared about impeachment and presidential law-breaking. Suppose the question of the day on every cable net was, “Should Bush be impeached for violating the Constitution?” The media can create a crisis — and can squelch one. The media can deliver narratives, they can frame events, they can shape the way Americans see the political landscape. A disproportionate amount of power is wielded by a handful of opinion-shapers, and when these individuals tell America a story that favors the right and marginalizes the left, the remedies are few…

It’s worth your time to read it all.

One thought on “Your liberal media

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  1. Actually, I think the media is a convenient excuse. Yes, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, et al have a clear bias. To cite Al Franken, it’s not so much that other traditional news outlets are bias as that they are lazy. Which brings us back to your prior posts this week: the Democrats need to proudly espouse a particular platform. That’s what’s missing from the national debate. In the last six years the Dems have gone from, everything’s great, and “I’m [we’re] not Bill Clinton” (ie don’t suffer from his faults), to “things are bad, but we’re not W.” These are not particularly inspiring political positions.

    These are the issues:
    (1) National Security
    (2) Economy
    (3) Social Welfare

    The first and second are the most important, and the Dems have completely failed to address them. Iraq is a major problem, but the Dems need to take a stand on it. But more than that, they need to make national security about the war on terrorism as distinguished from the war in Iraq.

    I’ve already ranted about #2 (and it’s direct tie to #1), but when it comes to #3, Dems need to focus on “family friendly” policies: health care, education (including job training), and protections for working class families (such as family leave laws and bankruptcy protection for the sick).

    Remember the “Contract [on] America?” Agressive presentation of the platform is the reason the Republicans took over in ’94.

    So . . . we’re all waiting.

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