There was a time in America when journalists were considered the public’s watchdogs to keep tabs on errant politicians and businessmen who paid for political favors whether from the local police chief or the Congressional representative for the district. The so-called “Fourth Estate” was the name of print journalism although these days it refers to mass media whether it is newspapers, magazines, or television, and their task was to keep watch over the politicians by reporting every story accurately to maintain a semblance of transparency in government.
For many Americans, the only political news they hear is during the evening network news and the entirety of their understanding of the issues of the day are what they hear during those 5 minute segments. There are some people who still read newspapers, but unless they live in a major metropolitan market, the only exposure to politics is what the local paper chooses to put on page one or on the editorial page with readers’ letters. The smaller the market, the more apt the newspaper is to hardly cover politics except when elections are scheduled, otherwise, the day-to-day political wrangling that affects every person in America is omitted for lack of interest or editorial manipulation. The major television networks are no better than a small town editor-in-chief with an interest in promoting a political agenda for financial gain, and there is no network as guilty of being a political party’s mouthpiece as Fox News.
However, since the election of Barack Obama, all of the major networks have belied the conservative claim that there is a “liberal media bias” and have ignored reporting on any of the Republican malfeasance going on in Washington on a daily basis. Most political watchers know that Fox News is the de facto media arm of teabaggers and the Republican Party and they were not surprised at the revelations that Fox News’ Rupert Murdoch has been implicated in the U.K. News Corp scandal that has threatened to finally bring some righteous retribution to Murdoch and Fox News. In an article outlining the Murdoch media empire’s monopoly in evangelical Christian publishing, Frank Schaeffer proffered the notion that Americans should boycott all of Fox’s media whether it is sports, news, or prime time family programming.
Fox News is arguably the worst news outlet regardless of their slogan that they are “fair and balanced,” but they are by no means the only organization that deserves rage and scorn from every American for concealing conservative machinations to transform America into a corporatist Christian nation. More specifically, all of the major networks are guilty of anti-Obama, anti-Democrat, anti-liberal bias because they only report on stories where Republicans or teabaggers rail on the president and the left for any number of imagined sleights, and are remiss to report on the president’s accomplishments that benefit the entire country. For liberals, MSNBC has become the go-to alternative to Fox News and the other “fair and balanced” networks, NBC, CBS, and ABC; but there are reasons to hold MSNBC in the same contempt reserved for Fox News.
Before the 2010 midterm elections, MSNBC’s Ed Schultz went on a rant and implored Democrats to “sit out” the election to protest the failure to extend unemployment benefits to people who have been out of work for a certain period of time. Mr. Schultz has performed some fine work reporting on the Wisconsin union-busting legislation by Republican governor Scott Walker and he is to be commended. However, it is worth mentioning that if Schultz’s viewers had showed up at the polls, it is possible that Walker and Republicans may have never been elected. Strike one against MSNBC.
Every day on MSNBC, Mike Huckabee’s television commercial begging viewers to sign a petition to tell Congress to repeal the Affordable Health Act airs between liberal leaning programs and it begs the question; is there a mixed message? In isolation, it does not appear there is a mixed message until the entirety of MSNBC’s programming is taken into account. Why would a network whose slogan is “lean forward” air a commercial meant to repeal the health law when repealing the “forward leaning” health law is a giant step backward? The parent companies of MSNBC are GE and Comcast and these very large corporations stand to win if any of Obama and Democratic legislation or candidates ends up losing or being repealed. Strike two against GE/Comcast’s MSNBC.
In the digital age, blogs have become critical to inform the public because most bloggers are unpaid and are reporting and commenting out of a sense of duty to the public and the country regardless of their political leanings. When a blogger presents themselves as a liberal or progressive, it is expected they are committed to a certain ideology and although the great majority of blogs are true to their stated political position, there are some that covertly accept funding from conservative groups like the GOP and tea party to demean Democrats and especially President Obama. Jane Hamsher is a frequent guest on MSNBC where she and the network portray her as a progressive even though her writing and commentary is better suited to Fox News. Hamsher, like Ed Schultz encouraged Democrats not to vote in the 2010 midterm elections and although she doesn’t hold sway like Schultz, every vote that wasn’t cast for a Democratic candidate translated into a Republican vote and look where the country is today. It would be easy to forgive MSNBC for allowing Hamsher to have a voice as a progressive on their network if her anti-Obama opinions were an aberration, but they are not and the fine “forward leaning” folks at MSNBC are well aware that Hamsher’s primary goal is the defeat of Barack Obama. Sorry liberals, but that is strike three against MSNBC.
The baseball metaphor is necessary because three strikes means they are out, and although MSNBC deserves a hundred strikes, this column cannot go on forever. If Fox News is worthy of being boycotted, then surely MSNBC is right behind them because there is a direct connection between Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, and General Electric’s MSNBC. Fox News has promoted the corporatist no-tax agenda for the Republican Party for years, and as a major U.S. corporation that pays no taxes, General Electric benefits directly from Murdoch’s Fox News organization. It is little wonder why the GOP, MSNBC, and Fox News promote people like Jane Hamsher and Mike Huckabee who, although on different networks promoting different political leanings, are all working against President Obama, Democrats, and liberals in general whether overtly or covertly.
The only option the public has is to boycott any and every network that works against the American people and it does not matter if it is MSNBC, ABC, CBS or Fox News. But it goes farther than just boycotting Fox News and the offending MSNBC hosts who promote conservatives and their anti-American agenda. To cause the offenders pain, protestors should boycott all the programming on the offending networks. That means not patronizing any of the Fox empire and that includes films, publishing, sports, and entertainment divisions so advertisers understand that boycotters are serious. Remember, Glenn Beck lost serious advertising revenue for Murdoch because every advertiser faced pressure until they pulled their ads. It took a little time, but loss of revenue is the only thing corporations understand.
Americans have a responsibility to find out for themselves what politicians are doing behind closed doors and there are few options, but there are options. C-SPAN is as boring as television can possibly be, but it is one of the only places to see firsthand what politicians are saying away from the glare of network television cameras. Media Matters for America, Think Progress and other sites cull thousands-of-hours of media to find important stories to inform Americans what all politicians are up to. There are myriad blogs that are informative and most have some bias, but for the most part, they are true to their advertised political leanings. This column will never promote a conservative point of view, but then again, “Real Liberal Politics” is a sub-title of this site and truth in advertising can be verified with any article’s content.
The media cannot be trusted to provide a transparent unbiased view of politics in America, but with a little prudence and selective reading and viewing, the truth will be made manifest. As far as missing out on network television, it is difficult to give up certain NFL games and viewers may have to forego American Idol until Murdoch either gets the point or is in prison, but he will get the point if advertising revenue falls off. Will a full-on boycott reinstate a responsible Fourth Estate in the press or mass media? Probably not, but boycotting the anti-American, anti-Obama networks may cause them to couch their abject bias and begin acting a bit more responsible. In the meantime, it is okay to read a book, take an evening walk, or do anything besides fund the corporatist takeover of America by funding Rupert Murdoch’s media empire or giving General Electric/Comcast’s MSNBC any more ad dollars to advance their anti-health care reform campaign. It is difficult to be a liberal when we are responsible for funding the conservative agenda.