Archive for July 25th, 2006

Please Reconsider, Mr. Soros.

Well, the highlight of my weekend (aside from making a perfect throw from left field to home plate on the fly) was the firedoglake book salon with our paymaster, George Soros himself. Those of us who read his new book, The Age of Fallibility: Consequence of the War on Terror. Those of us who *cough* didn’t asked him why he hasn’t sunk any of his stupefying wealth into developing a liberal or at least objective media empire to counter Fox News and… almost everyone else.

He was… nonplussed to say the least. His first response was to say that if he built a liberal version of Fox, he “would be no better than Murdoch.” Okay, I can see that. Lies and propaganda do not become more noble simply because they’re on our side. But since it’s not every day I get to argue with a gazillionaire (and, quite frankly, my blogging paychecks have been pretty light lately), I pressed on:

Can you elaborate on this? What if you owned a network *different* from Fox, with controls in place to ensure fair and accurate (but aggressive) reporting? Even a nonpartisan, objective news network would be a powerful counterweight to Fox and all the rest, and I don’t think it would cost you your soul.

Or do you believe that such a beast is simply impossible to create?

His response (not just to me, there were a lot of people asking him about this):

I don’t have an answer to the many questions on the media but I know for sure that my owning media is not the answer.

I pretty much dropped the question at this point, as it seemed clear to me that he had given the idea some serious thought, had rejected it, and really did not care to discuss the matter any further. I’m not sure if he thinks media ownership is inherently dirty, or he simply believes his own involvement would be counterproductive or excruciating (i.e., that he would either suck at it, or make himself an even bigger target of the right-wing noise-and-harassment machine).

I know it’s hopeless, but I am hoping that Mr. Soros will think about it some more. Firstly, the need is too great to ignore. As I have harped on repeatedly, the media effectively control reality and even history for the large segment of the population that does not approach them skeptically or seek out alternatives. There are limits to how much they can shade the truth and muddy the waters without losing their all-important credibility (which is why Bush’s approval rating is down around 35%), but they have done a very effective job of blunting the impact of all of the Republicans’ incompetence, greed, and outright criminality.

And standing against them, we have… what? Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Keith Olbermann on the TV side (most important, IMO), Air America on the radio side, and a handful of reporters, columnists, and editorial pages on the newspaper side. And the liberal blogs, which are numerous and excellent (present company excepted), but simply not widely read by the general population.

Secondly, I think this is a wide-open market niche, just waiting to be filled. Consider all the stories that have gone underreported or misreported, like the dodgy pre-Iraq intelligence, the Plame case, shady election shenanigans, illegal wiretapping, straight hookers, gay hookers, corruption, corruption, corruption, just to name the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Now imagine a news network that aggressively investigates and reports on all of these stories. Think about how many people would say “Wow! I had no idea this was going on! Tell me more!” Imagine a network that balances conservatives with genuine, articulate progressives and lets them have their say. Imagine a network or newspaper that doesn’t uncritically repeat Republican talking points in the name of false balance. Not only would such a media enterprise get more information and liberal viewpoints widely disseminated, but it would also put a well-deserved dent in the credibility of the corporate media.

Please note that I am not advocating a liberal network, just a network that invites real liberals instead of moderates, fake liberals, and inarticulate milquetoasts to fill the left side of its talking head discussions. Reality is already kryptonite for Republicans, so why go overboard? The mechanisms for maintaining objectivity in reporting will be tricky, however: I’m envisioning a nonpartisan or bipartisan review panel, stocked with experienced, high-integrity journalists or journalism profs, and maybe some online media critics. The character of these individuals would be essential to the success of the enterprise.

Thirdly, Soros would not have to become a hands-on media mogul like a Murdoch or a Moon or a Scaife. If someone can come up with a workable business plan that just lacks money, Soros could infuse it with the needed cash to get it off the ground quickly, but distance himself from the actual operation – a silent partner, in other words. Perhaps this is easier said than done, but my suspicion is that there are a lot of smart people who are up to the job. (Question: I know there are liberal media projects out there; are there any objective ones?)

Granted, the logistical hurdles of getting Objective News Network off the ground are pretty daunting, but I don’t think they’re insurmountable; and given what’s at stake, I can’t think of any use of a few billion dollars that would have a more beneficial effect on democracy in this country. Well, okay, maybe establishing a massive “Endowment For Clean Elections” that provides competitive no-strings-attached financing to any legitimate candidate who agrees to forgo all other campaign contributions (or matching funds to candidates who spurn corporate money). Or perhaps a media fund to buy commercial airtime for candidates who agree to accept only individual contributions. Both would be dependent on FEC approval, of course…

So what do you say, Mr. Soros? Are you ready to help Reality reclaim its rightful place in American discourse? If some smart liberals (or non-liberals; I’m not picky) can concoct a workable plan for a nonpartisan, objective media entity, will you back it?

10 comments July 25th, 2006 at 10:25pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Favorites,Media,Politics

More MyDDiagnosis

Chris Bowers continues the explanation of why Democrats lose:

The habit of the Democratic Party to kill itself via self-referential meta-talk was on full display at the DLC meeting yesterday. Tell me if you can find what is wrong with the message coming out of the conference. From the Mercury News:

Sen. Clinton said the council’s initiative can “unite Democrats and elect Democrats.”

Now, when you preface your policy proposals by indicating that said proposals are intended to win elections and unite your party, you have already pretty much ended any chance that people will think you making said proposals because you believe in those proposals. This is because, well, you just said that the purpose of these proposals was to win elections. Americans love it when politicians admit in public that their legislative proposals are designed to win elections.

More brilliant messaging from the same article:

Stone said the council’s centrist approach has been the only proven success for Democrats in the past 25 years.

While this is not a direct quote, it is a widely held sentiment in some Democratic circles. It is also utterly self-defeating, since it strongly gives the impression that the only reason Democrats are moving to the center is because they think it will help them to win elections. Not only does this tacitly admit that Republicans have the right ideas and Democrats must move toward those ideas in order to win, it also is a pretty direct implication that Democrats don’t believe in anything, but that they are moving to the center solely for the purpose of winning elections.

It’s also completely wrong. Clinton won in spite of the DLC’s centrism because he’s a brilliant campaigner. The DLC’s approach has produced an unbroken string of underachieving failure ever since.

The bizarre Democratic need, found most often within DLC-type conferences, to preface any proposal with a public claim that the coming proposal will help Democrats win elections is a major factor in the national belief that Democrats do not stand for anything. If you tell the country that your ideas are designed to win elections, then they won’t think you stand for anything except winning elections. And then, well, you probably won’t win many elections, because Americans don’t like politicians who only stand for winning elections. If you want to do something, then just do it. Throwing the “this will get us elected” qualifier in front of your statements just makes us all look like spineless jackasses who are trying to pull one over on the electorate. If you want to talk faith, or be a centrist, or be a hawk, or stand on principles, then just go for it. Stop wasting our time and making us all look bad by telling us you are doing it in order to win elections.

My take on this is that it’s a sales job. The DLC centrists know that their strategies are out of synch with core Democratic values, so they have to claim that they’re sure-fire election winners, and thus well worth sacrificing principle and integrity for. Of course, as Bowers points out, they seem to be forgetting that the microphone is on, and just how bad this kind of talk sounds to us Great Unwashed. On the other hand, if Stoller is correct that failure is actually their goal (see below), then that part of it makes sense too…

As an aside, for those of you left hanging by Matt Stoller’s comment under my earlier post, Stoller finally did answer my question under his original MyDD post about the anti-progressive, and apparently pro-failure machine within the Democratic party:

My Post: Matt Stoller rocks! Why do the Democrats keep hiring losers? (I’m paraphrasing a tiny bit here)

Matt Stoller: Insider Democrats don’t win because they are paid to lose. That’s the point of this parallel machine. Who do you think funds third way? (Hint: It’s not left-wingers….)

Me: I don’t disagree with your comment that losing is actually the insider Dems’ objective, but I still don’t understand why the congressional Dems (and presidential aspirants, for that matter) would hire professional losers.

Do they not actually want to win, or are they just completely blind to reality?

Matt Stoller: Depends on the politician. Lots of them are insecure divas who desperately want the approval of the Broders, etc. Some are going to become lobbyists and don’t want to jeopardize their job prospects. Some want to gain power and don’t see how they can do that without having these third way people on their side (Evan Bayh, cough cough). Some just won by marketing themselves as moderates and can’t see any other way of winning.

We’re doomed.

July 25th, 2006 at 07:35pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Favorites,Politics,Wankers

Vintage Grand Prix Photoblogging IV

And yet still more from the Pittsburgh Grand Prix…

Not sure where the rest of it is…

Rolls Royce!

I love this driver; he is so into it.

Two cars!

7 comments July 25th, 2006 at 07:58am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

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