Since we're so disgusted with most corporate media, we take it as part of the C&L mission to plug progressive media, especially when it's independently owned. If you still don't know about We Act Radio, Washington DC's progressive station, you should. After all, we have this station right in the heart of our nation's capital that's on our side, and influences policy every day. (I happen to believe progressive talk radio is even more important than TV.)
It's owned by progressive fighters Alex Lawson, Cliff Schecter and Kymone Freeman. There are great shows, from David Shuster's Take Action News to Joshua Holland's AlterNet Radio Hour and Moms Rising, Sam Seder, Angie Coiro, and Nicole Sandler. All great stuff!
So it's nice to see an article in the Washington Post on one of their newest shows, with man about town Rock Newman:
Rock Newman could have been sunning on a beach in Bermuda or promoting some hot new sports star in Las Vegas. Instead, he’s back on his old stomping grounds in D.C.
The millionaire boxing promoter/political insider gets bored at lot, which is why he just moved back to the Beltway from Las Vegas and launched a weekly radio show on WeAct Radio (1480 AM).
It's good when our kind of media gets a little plug in the establishment press like the Post. Let's help We Act (1480 AM in Washington) keep up the good work. Go on by and listen.
As someone who has been involved somewhat in the punditry circuit (for lack of a better term), I have been asked by progressive friends what I think is needed for the Left to compete with the Right, not so much in the war of ideas, as idea distribution.
To begin with, we need people who can confidently promote progressive values on television and radio. While the last decade has seen the creation and expansion of progressive think tanks, Air America Radio (an incubator of such talent as Rachel Maddow and Sam Seder), and even primetime MSNBC's becoming a mini-progressive tv outpost, we still lack the funding of the Right, and the pipeline it creates.
A 24-hour conservative television station and talk radio both nationally and locally dominated by conservatives doesn't only get the message out and give cover to politicians and political ideas once considered slightly to the right of insane (make no mistake, they've used these and many print distribution channels to take Bircherism, or Hofstadter's "Paranoid Style," mainstream--something which was once looked at as absolute looniness by those who even controlled the Establishment on the Right).
It also has created everyone from Glenn Beck to Sean Hannity to Tucker Carlson (we can also thank The Weekly Standard and Swanson for this last honor, as in Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson). So we may not have that. Or Heritage Foundation Summer School (with balconies!) and, for the most part, the other think tanks that pay conservative "thinkers" real salaries just to think out loud during non-paid tv segments, in low-paying articles and columns, and to write books nobody buys--but reach the NY Times bestseller list because these think tanks bulk buy 20,000 of them the minute they come out.
But we are making progress in other areas. One project I'm involved with, The Progressive Talent Initiative, not only provides 3.5 days of media training including everything from performance critiques to messaging advice, but the relationship continues afterwards, as the program gives you a tune up when you need it and helps get you booked for appearances.
It is a great program, which I had the luck of attending, and now maybe it's your turn. If you're a political strategist, progressive activist, blogger, academic, non-profit dweller or the like, this could be a great program for you to earn the key messaging and media training skills the Left so critically needs. The training is free to participants so if you are selected, can take the time to participate and are eager and willing to be booked after the training, the PTI team will take care of everything else.
If this is something you've been thinking about, give it a shot, as we need progressives armed with not only the facts, but the ability to share them with persuadable audiences.
So what are you doing March 9th-12th? If you'd like to apply for media training, now's your chance. The training is limited to only 12 participants, so showcase your talents in your application for the review committee to see. Application is available here and is open until January 14. So get in the game my friends!
Glenn Beck expects 300,000 people in Washington, D.C., tomorrow for BeckStock. Really. Those are his own words. Calling it both the "Woodstock of the next generation" and "the anti-Woodstock," Beck expects "a miracle." It would take a miracle to get half so many people to ride a bus to D.C. and watch a three-hour Goldline ad.
Did you know that Goldline sponsored both the Wright Brothers and the moon landing? I didn't. Much more -- including an original video -- after the jump.
I use the word “book” with some hesitation: Certainly it possesses chapters and words and other book-like accoutrements. But [Mark R. Levin's] Men in Black is 208 large-print pages of mostly block quotes (from court decisions or other legal thinkers) padded with a foreword by the eminent legal scholar Rush Limbaugh, and a blurry 10-page “Appendix” of internal memos to and from congressional Democrats—stolen during Memogate. The reason it may take you only slightly longer to read Men in Black than it took Levin to write it is that you’ll experience an overwhelming urge to shower between chapters.
They make the case as do so many of us that conservative authors like Levin use the wingnut welfare system to finance their intellectually barren arguments and books. That's why it's important to support 'Liberal Authors' who don't use the Ctrl+C keyboard short cut as their primary research tool and if you can: Buy this book.
And as proof that liberals are evilly trying to silence right-wingers, Bachmann trotted out ... net neutrality.
Bachmann: Oh sure, that's all they have left now, is they use pejorative terms, hateful terms, against those who are carrying the message. So whether they're attacking conservative talk radio, or conservative TV, or whether it's Internet sites -- I mean, let's face it, what's the Obama administration doing? They're advocating net neutrality, which is essentially censorship of the Internet!
This is the Obama administration advocating censorship of the Internet. Why? They want to silence the voices that are opposing them.
Bill Clinton understands very well what the right wing is capable of, and warns that the inflammatory speech we're hearing will lead to violence if it goes unchecked. In an interview with Jake Tapper, he responds to Rush Limbaugh's latest:
In my exclusive “This Week” interview, former President Bill Clinton told me Rush Limbaugh’s assertion that Clinton had “set the stage for violence in this country” and that “any acts of future violence” would be on Clinton’s shoulders, “doesn’t make any sense”.
Clinton marked the upcoming 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing on Friday with a major speech to the Center for American Progress, in which he warned that “the words we use really do matter, because there's this vast echo chamber, and they go across space and they fall on the serious and the delirious alike. They fall on the connected and the unhinged alike.”
Conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh took to the air, Friday, after the speech and said that Clinton’s remarks, which drew parallels between the anti-government sentiment in the mid-90s and present-day anti-government expressions, “just gave the kooks out there an excuse to be violent.”
Responding directly to Limbaugh, Clinton told me, “The only point I tried to make was that we ought to have a lot of political dissent -- a lot of political argument. Nobody is right all the time. But we also have to take responsibility for the possible consequences of what we say. “
One of those consequences, Clinton said, was threats against public officials. “We shouldn't demonize the government or its public employees or its elected officials. We can disagree with them. We can harshly criticize them. But when we turn them into an object of demonization, you know, you -- you increase the number of threats.”
Clinton added, “I worry about these threats against the president and the Congress. And I worry about more careless language even against -- some of which we've seen against the Republican governor in New Jersey, Governor Christie.” A recently leaked memo from a New Jersey teachers union contained a joke suggesting that Governor Christie should die.
“I just think we all have to be careful. We ought to remember after Oklahoma City, we learned something about the difference in disagreement and demonization,” Clinton said.
As we've been witnessing, the democratic process is broken in America and movement conservatism has corrupted our ability to govern. In any party there usually are different factions within that party. Some might be more moderate than others, but when a party wins a mandate in a general election they are usually allowed to govern.
That doesn't apply when Republicans are out of power. Yes, we have terrible politicians manning the Democratic Congress, but it's almost unprecedented when one party just votes no, so that even if you have a strong majority in the Senate, one Senator from the other side has the power to stop all legislation. So even if you're in a huge minority, the filibuster can sink legislation or hold up personal appointments every time.
The media are feckless and ineffective. They love the fight game and are more interested in ratings and clashing personalities than they are in actually reporting the news. So they allow a minority party that was soundly trounced in two elections (2006,2008) to maintain their defiance to the American people. And then they blame it on the party differences within the Democratic Party.
And we can't forget the conservative media that drives their narratives to millions of people a day. Fox News and AM talk radio do have a huge influence on the American people and the politicians in Congress, and they should never be ignored.
* Start using the phrase "up-or-down vote" all the time.
* Take advantage of every opportunity. Using reconciliation as much as humanly possible should be a no-brainer. The "nuclear option" should be put on the table, too. Endorse Harkin/Shaheen. Scour the rules and procedural minutiae and figure out if Republicans who want to filibuster can't be forced to literally do so. Search for GOP statesmen -- Lugar? -- and ask if they're really willing to destroy the workings of the United States Senate.
* Go on the offensive. Organize rallies in Maine and explain that Olympia Snowe, by endorsing her party's obstructionism, is single-handedly responsible for the fact that Congress can't function, and it's within her power to put things right and let key bills get up-or-down votes.
* Give voters who elected Democrats something to be excited about. Voters will be impressed with accomplishments, so maybe it'd be wise to give them some. Dems can start by passing the damn health care reform package.
It's not too late. Finish health care. Pass a jobs bill. Go after irresponsible banks. Bring some safeguards to Wall Street. Fix student loans. Pass an energy bill. Repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." This not a fanciful wish-list; it's all entirely feasible.
A reader writes in to Talking Points Memo with this observation:
Why do you think Congressional Democrats have had such a hard time dealing with Republican obstructionism? It's been apparent for months that Republicans are unwilling to compromise on legislative initiatives, unless by compromise you mean that they will allow Democrats to agree with their proposals. In such an environment, it is pointless for Democratic lawmakers to ask themselves whether there is a way they can craft legislation so that some Republicans will be willing to vote for their proposal - there is simply no provision that Democrats can add or remove from a bill that will make Republicans want to vote for a Democratic proposal. And yet we keep seeing efforts - like the Baucus jobs bill - in which leading Democrats tinker with or even gut their own proposals in a fruitless effort to get Republicans to sign on to the legislation.
If Democrats in Congress behaved like the Republicans have after being trounced for the last four years, the media and the Village would be screaming bloody murder at them. The Washington Post led by David Broder would be lashing out every day: 'How dare they be such obstructionists," Broder would say, and all of his colleagues would follow suit.
And like clockwork, the Dems would be afraid of a backlash from voters and would once again pass legislation like Medicare Part D, the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and the bankruptcy bill, to name a few.
They must pass health care to get the ball rolling on their side. You want a commission? I got one. They should put together a Procedure Commission to investigate every nook and cranny that is available to them to pass legislation.
The rest of us he airily dismisses. Indeed, according to Goldberg, the entire enterprise was tainted by the fact of my participation:
Let me say up front that selecting David Neiwert to “introduce” the discussion – without telling me in advance – is pretty strong evidence that this symposium was intended a priori to discredit the book rather than honestly discuss it (usually, introducers at least pretend to be evenhanded). The slanderous and absurd bile in some of these initial responses – comparing my book to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and me to a Nazi propagandist – runs completely counter to the spirit of open debate. I would like to think that HNN didn’t know what it was getting into when it started this project.
So forgive me if I take all of this gnashing of teeth and rending of cloth over the polemical – as opposed to scholarly – nature of Liberal Fascism with a grain of salt. Neiwert and Bertlet are deeply invested in their cottage industry of spotting fascism and Nazism in the Republican Party, talk radio and elsewhere. In nearly every respect they are both caricature and embodiment of precisely the mindset I attack in my book (a mindset Professor Paxton claims doesn’t exist). Heaven forbid I adopt a Marxist mode of analysis, but it’s fair to say that for them to treat Liberal Fascism respectfully would be like a Luddite welcoming the cotton mill. I’ve dealt with Neiwert’s arguments before, so I won’t waste more time on him here.
Danny Goldberg writes a brilliant piece on Howie's DWT that explains the real reason Air America failed: There is no will to sustain left-wing media, talk radio or support the liberal blogosphere if it doesn't turn an immediate profit.
Right-wing millionaires realize that it takes years to develop any sort of model that works, but they also understand that making money isn't the point of their ventures. It's to get their messaging out to as many people as they can. And they are successful at it.
Conservatives believe in doing whatever it takes to promote their ideas. Richard Viguerie, viewed as one of the architects of the modern conservative movement, wrote a book in 2004 called America’s Right Turn: How Conservatives Used New and Alternative Media To Take Power, in which he explains how the right wing used talk radio among other tools. Viguerie stresses that conservatives understand that ideological change does not usually occur over night, that it takes patience and long term thinking to build a movement.
In the early nineteen seventies the Washington Post and New York Times were instrumental in helping expose the Watergate scandal and publishing the Pentagon papers. Conservatives felt that liberals had an advantage in setting the agenda because of the influence of New York and D.C. newspapers on the national media. In 1976 Rupert Murdoch bought the New York Post and it has lost money every year since, the total loss estimated to be more than half a billion dollars. In 1983, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon created the Washington Times, which has also lost money every year. Widely published reports place Moon’s losses at over $1 billion on the Times and other political media including a purchase the venerable wire service UPI. These money losing properties have put dozens of conservatively slanted stories onto the national radar screen, altered the framing of every important political issues, and nurtured virtually every right wing pundit who now thrive as TV talking heads.
More recently, Phillip Anschutz bought the money losing Weekly Standard from Murdoch and announced plans to invest in more conservative media and his fellow billionaire and former Republican Treasury Secretary Pete Petersen started a digital news service called The Fiscal Times.
The fatal flaw in Air America’s genetic code was the pretense that liberal talk radio was a great business opportunity, that progressives could have their cake and eat it too, do well by doing good, make big salaries and get a great return on investment while also pursuing an ideological agenda. Sure, every once in awhile political media like Michael Moore’s movies or Rush Limbaugh’s radio show will make money, but for those interested in influencing public opinion, media in all venues is vital whether they make money or not.
Air America scared the bejeezus out of conservatives because they had never seen such an enterprise before, and that's why Bill O'Reilly and Fox News did everything they could to smear them from its inception. The liberal blogosphere is in the same predicament. We need funds to survive and thrive and with a bad economy, ad revenues dropped off considerably in 2009.
Readers do not like to see ads on blogs for the most part, but without them C&L could not survive and neither would most highly trafficked sites. Corporations are sinking in millions of dollars at a shot to try and buy their Internet real estate while most of us already have an imprint that is virtually impossible to find without multimillion-dollar investments.
I'm trying to create jobs for bloggers and expand to combat the right-wing noise machine, but I need help to do it. I've talked to several very wealthy people who are really incredible progressives and they don't know that much about blogs even at this point in time. The wealthy progressive collective needs to rethink their positions on media and invest in the future for America if the left will have a chance to match the right. We are seeing an erosion of the MSM right in front of our eyes, and men like Coors, Murdoch and Scaife are just giddy, as news turns into opinion warfare and propaganda instead of real investigative journalism.
Air America should have had access to funds regardless of what type of profit margin it made in its first few years. In a short time, Air America delivered our country a U.S. Senator named Al Franken and a superstar TV anchor named Rachel Maddow, and the right loathed the prospects of even more good voices for the left having a place to develop. In time the influence of progressive talk radio on the AM dial would far outweigh their profit projections.
Murdoch and Moon and many others on the far right easily write off the NY Post and Washington Times as a necessary investment to the future of the conservative movement. I understand that those same resources aren't available to the left -- after all, the right tends to be about the preservation of money and power -- but there is certainly enough to build radio infrastructure and help fund the liberal blogosphere that had so much to do with the resurgence of the progressive movement in 2006 and 2008. We really need the same commitment from the left. I hope the powers that be are listening.
This post was e-mailed to me by a C&L reader. It's pretty sickening, but Limbaugh is a racist thug, and so is the Conserva-hack named Ken Rogulski -- a lowbrow reporter miscreant who uses the pain and suffering that the people of Detroit are experiencing and turns it into a racist giggle fest for RushBo's audience. Is there no decency in the world of conservative talk radio? Obviously not.
It was Wednesday when Rush Limbaugh received an .MP3 from the Desk of WJR Detroit's Ken Rogulski, the white-haired beat reporter, who also occasionally anchors certain top hour newscasts in the conservative talk station's broadcast day. The audio gift would be the gavel with which Rush would pound out hate and bigotry, revelry in personal suffering, and twisting of words and ideas for the rest of the week.
Earlier, Rogulski scurried down to the Cobo Convention Center, locally referred to as Cobo Hall to see what kind of audio he could bring back from the huge crowd developing as the applications for federal aid for the poor and destitute were being handed out. It was to be a brief windfall of assistance to one of the hardest hit cities in the country, where bankrupt auto companies and massive home foreclosure have helped define a new level of pain and suffering for these innocent human beings. But you could hear the hope in their voices flapping in a breeze of unsureness like an untethered sail in a storm, these proud, innocent residents.
The conservo-talk reporter cherry picked through the audio booty until he found the absolute best soundbite that would most perfectly frame the city as one filled with Obama-fawning morons, black Sambos, and greedy welfare grabbers - precisely, as Limbaugh would later argue, the kind of rank idiots who would vote for someone like America's first black president. Surely Ken's heart must have been pounding as he attached the audio to his corporate email and double checked the top-secret "To" address that would land the .MpP3 directly onto the desk of Rush's long time producer, Kitt Carson. JACKPOT!
Carson fast-tracked the audio to the OXYmoron, and by noon it was airing live.
"Where's the money coming from?!" Rogulski quickly quizzes.
"Obama!," the giddy resident chirps, confident the day will end in a bill being paid, or a week's worth of groceries to stuff into the old fridge.
"And where does Obama get it from?!" Rogulski follows up. To the more politically refined in the conservative talk world, the answer is loud and clear - TAXPAYERS. But Rogulski knows full well these "Motown simpletons" will not be so cynical as to believe he's recording them with intentions of caricaturing them later as thigh-slapping morons.
"I dunno! His stash, I dunno. But he givin' to us! We love him!"
Thursday, Rogulski, a small time nobody in comparison to his conservative mentor, decided to use this opportunity and momentum, and keep the mentions of his unimportant name ratta-tatting over the world-famous EIB Network going and sent another one. This one even more sensational than the first.
Rogulski gently pushes the "save" button on his MP3 recorder and slickly slides it into his pocket. Mission accomplished. Limbaugh doesn't poll affiliate stations daily to see if there's any news he needs to know about. He has a team of producers scouring the net daily. So when an affiliate sends something to the Golden Microphone ... it's because the sender knows Rush will want it, and knows precisely how he will use it.
And Rush could not have been happier. No editing necessary for his staff, no double checking, it was packaged, edited and air ready. And for three straight days, the AM Shock Talker pounded the audio candy like he had just been told the funniest joke this week.
Listen to how the first audio soundbite is edited to end with a laugh, which to the racist's ear is a dog-whistle. To a bigot, it is the laugh of bug-eyed Jemima. But to the rest of America, it is the innocent guffaw of a child holding out her hands for a cool drink of water in one of the hottest economic downturns in a century. Note how Limbaugh allows the sound of her laugh to hang in the air for a moment, to let it be the last thing you hear, to let it resonate with the comedic timing of George Burns before going on to the next soundbite. A pause so small and so seemingly insignificant. but silence is a moment as important as a word, that has been practiced and mastered by comedians and even broadcast greats like the similarly conservative late Paul Harvey.
Rush Limbaugh, and the affiliates who support his message of bigotry are not just racists. They are the worst kind of racists. They are the ones who can say the "N" word in code publicly, laugh out loud and hearty, and then argue that you are missing some bigger message if you think it's meant as anything but good, clean fun.