Thursday, January 20, 2005

The First Step - Recognizing That We Have a Problem

In a recent press conference, President Bush showed us his cards by outlining his gameplan: "The first step in this process is for members of Congress to realize we have a problem". Despite openly mocking bush for this approach, I am now going to follow suit. In yesterday's blog entry, entitled Right-Wing Labels and the Republican Noise Machine, I began a discussion on how the neoconservative movement is making significant use of corporate funded think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation, The Cato Institute, The American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Media Research Center (MRC), Accuracy in Media (AIM). You may not realize it, but a major portion of the news stories covered and talking points discussed in today's media originates from these powerful right wing think tanks. Many of the pundits on Fox News and the right-wing radio talk show network take their talking points directly from these sources, without even fact checking the stories.

Do yourself a favor, and click on some of the links I have listed above. Take a look at what they are saying. The Heritage Foundation's front page has editorials discussing how the republican's should handle social security and tax reform, questioning whether Paul Volcker has a conflict of interest in the Oil-For-Food investigation. The Media Research Center has a long list of articles discussing the Rather-Gate scandal, including three straight articles discussing "liberal bias". The Cato Institute goes even further, forming an entire organization devoted to social security reform, The Cato Institute Project on Social Security Choice. Here is a link to the Cato Institute's Policy on how we should proceed with federal income tax reform. Here is a Cato Institute Page dedicated to the neocon's dream of an Ownership Society. These are the people responsible for setting the daily news agenda. There is powerful money behind this organized attempt to subvert the democratic process through outright propaganda, inaccurate information, deceptive talking points, and misleading studies.

I don't claim to be an expert on this subject. but I am asking you at really question whether you believe the pundits when the continue to push the agenda of a liberal media bias. As I mentioned in my previous blog, and I will continue to mention -- Just look at the way the media handles stories. Any time a new story breaks that may be damaging to the neoconservative movement, it either fails to gain any legs, or if it does, it is immediately pounced upon in a seemingly co-ordinated attack effort by the right wing press. Soon, the mainstream media is repeating the lies and talking points of the Republican Noise Machine. Meanwhile, any new stories which may damage the democratic/progressive/liberal movement is immediately spread and repeated throughout the right wing and mainstream press. Compare the lasting impact of Rathergate in the mainstream media -- still carrying on strong four months later, to the relatively small impact of the Armstrong Williams/Karen Ryan propaganda affairs. The propaganda affair should be the leading story in every major media outlet - yet most people I try to discuss the issue with have never even heard the story.

As I mentioned in the paragraph above, I am not an expert on media bias, but it is a subject that interests me. I am currently making my way through David Brock's excellent book on the subject, the Republican Noise Machine. This book is a very dense examination on the subject of the right wing echo chamber, and provides a great historical context into how it all developed. After finishing this book, I plan on re-reading the book immediately, and learning as much as I can about the major players in this propaganda game.
If you are just getting started in learning about the right wing media, I recommend a more light-hearted introduction into the topic, like Al Franken's best seller, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. This book focuses on the mis-representation of several right wing pundits, including Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity.

In order to truly understand this issue, you first need to recognize the fact that, yes, Fox News is just one giant disinformation factory. Once you get to that stage, you should be able to quickly recognize the same disdain for the truth represented in the Washington Times, and the New York Post. Then, you need to start thinking about why these media outlets have become so indoctrinated with right wing ideology.

It is only after you recognize the role that these corporate funded right wing think tanks play that you begin to understand the seriousness of this problem. There is a massive amount of money invested into these organizations. These are organizations designed to give an air of legitimacy to the otherwise baseless neoconservative movement.

As Bush stated in this press conference, the first step in the process of fighting the Republican Noise Machine is recognizing that we have a problem. To help you recognize this problem, I give you the following sources: is a not-for-profit progressive research center, dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. I recommend subscribing to Media Matter's Email Notifications for timely notification of the misinformation spread by the neocons.

The Al Franken Show, hosted on the Air America Radio Network, spends a great deal of time and energy devoted to debunking the right wing's lies. Al Franken, formerly of Saturday Night Live fame, works alongside co-host Katherine Lanpher, and provides an entertaining daily 3-hour talk radio show, discussing the liberal agenda. If you don't have a local Air America station, you can listen to the show online from 1-4 PM weekdays.

The Center for American Progress is another great site to check out.

A couple weeks ago, I started a three-part series, entitled Wake Up America. The first segment, Worse than incompetent, was a very easy write -- I could've easily written 30,000 words on the incompetency of the Bush Administration. The second segment, The Second Term, discussed Social Security, Bush's plans for Tax Reform, and their plans to drill for oil in ANWR.

I have been putting off writing my final piece on the subject, Addressing the Real Issues Facing our Nation, mostly because of the difficulty I have had framing the issue. There are so many real issues facing our nation - not like the false crisis of social security - but how do we proceed when this country decides to freely elect the most incompetent administration in history. We cannot move towards real progress in this country until we win back this nation. Recognizing the dangers and obstacles presented by the Republican Noise Machine is the first step towards this goal.