Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Right-Wing Labels and the Republican Noise Machine

Unamerican; Unpatriotic, Left-of-center; Liberal; Outside of Mainstream America; traitors; liberally biased elite; Michael Moore Fans; Conspiracy Theorists; Flip-Flopper; Liberal senator from Massachusetts; Tax-and-Spend Liberals; supporters of Big Government. Liberals who hate America; Communist; propaganda; brainwashing; elitists.

These are just a few of the labels that the right wing echo chamber has been using to ruin the credibility of any person or organization that opposes the neocon worldview. I have come to the conclusion that the primary reason that the necons were able to walk away with a victory in the last two elections is because they have taken control of the mass media, through a concerted effort of republican-funded conservative think tanks, the Fox News Network, a myriad of right wing talk radio shows, the Washington Times and the New York Post. This "right wing echo chamber"

Take a look at the results of this survey, conducted by PollingPoint.com When asked the question, "Which of the Major Networks do you think does the best job of covering news?" An overwhelming majority, over 90%, of Republicans stated that their choice was Fox News. No other network on list received more than 2-3% of the vote from Republicans. Meanwhile, democratic responses were spread throughout the list of choices, with 35% responding PBS, 31% responding CNN, 9% NBC, 8% Fox News, 7% CBS, and 5% ABC (BTW, What democrat in their right mind would select Fox News as the best source of news coverage?)

A republican may argue that this is evidence of pervasive liberal media bias...That this demonstrates that Fox News is a lone, shining beacon of truth in a vast wasteland of liberal partisan hackery. I would argue that this is simply not the case. In reality, I would make the argument that the rest of networks have striped over the years to present a fair and unbiased outlook. When contrasted against the blatant disregard for fairness and accuracy in reporting that is the Fox News Network, of course the rest of the networks will present a viewpoint that appears to the left of Fox News. It is my contention that the liberal voice has been completely drowned in today's media.

One simply needs to observe the way the media has covered the major breaking stories over the past few years to realize how deeply rooted and pervasive the Republican Echo Chamber has become in today's media. Consider the following:

Contrast the media's overall town of coverage to former democratic president Bill Clinton, democratic presidential candidates Al Gore and John Kerry to that of Republican President George W. Bush. The media spent years hounding President Clinton, with a massive campaign to paint Clinton in an unfavorable light, with allegations of real estate fraud and sexual misconduct. The media painted Al Gore as a pathological liar, continuously repeating the false allegation that Gore claimed that he invented the internet. The media painted John Kerry as a flip-flopper, a man who tells everybody what they want to hear, a man that was illegimately awarded a silver star, a bronze star, and three purple hearts for his service in Vietnam. Meanwhile, the Bush Administration, which waged an illigimate war, based on false pretenses is given a pass time after time.

And yet, the republicans continue to whine about a liberal media bias. How dare they?! I am so furious over the general lack of regard given to the Armstrong Williams Affair. Imagine if the Clinton Administration was caught paying the media to promote a democratic agenda, using taxpayer money. Imagine if the Clinton Administration was caught lying about the causes to go to war. Imagine if the Clinton Administration had been caught passing around memos advocating the use of torture. This image is even more remarkable when you consider that International Red Cross Reports estimate that 70-95% of those imprisoned during the time period were mistakenly imprisoned, inappropriately rounded up during campaigns to clear the streets of Iraq.

Back to my original point. Over the past few years, The Republican Noise Machine has adopted a strategy of systematically attacking any dissenting opinion. It seems like every time a dissenting voice is heard in this nation, the right wing is quick to apply a label, thereby damaging the credibility of the source, and limiting the damage that can be done.

They sure did a number on Michael Moore. Before they had even seen Fahrenheit 9/11, the Whitehouse Press Core put out a statement stating, "This movie is a pack of lies". This message propagated throughout the media, the blogosphere, and the general public. The right wing noise machine has successfully painted Michael Moore as a conspiracy theorist. If I attempt to talk to any of my right wing friends about this movie, I am immediately laughed at. Almost every day, I here some rightwing pundit mention Moore's name when they are attempting to discredit another liberal voice.

The simple fact of the matter is that Fahrenheit 9/11 paints a very incriminating picture of the Bush Administration, and presents a strong, cohesive argument. The right wing noise machine couldn't allow themselves to stand by and let this movie damage the credibility of the Bush Administration. The movie did make a major impact on the US Box Office, shattering records for a documentary, and standing a very respectable #218 all time on the U.S. Box Office list, grossing over a hundred and nineteen million dollars. The people of the United States simply wanted to see this movie.

Fahrenheit 9/11 burst into the US on the tails of winning the Palme d'Or, for the best picture at the Cannes Film Festival. Last week, Fahrenheit 9/11 won the best picture at the People's Choice Awards. You think the right wing media would just accept the fact that Fahrenheit 9/11 was a popular film in the U.S. Not on your life. The night the People's Choice Awards was held, there was Bill O'Reilly, sitting in with a self-proclaimed expert, stating that the People's Choice Awards were rigged. O'Reilly and this expert were claiming that people on the internet were ballot-stuffing the award for best picture. They claimed that people with dial-up connections would vote, disconnect, and then re-connect to the internet to obtain a new IP Address, so they could vote again. Are you serious? Do you really think people with dial-up connections would have the patience to do this over-and-over again, and you do really think this action would have any significant affect on the final results. They just had to find some way to discredit this award. As long as the people who regularly watch Bill O'Reilly - in other words, the Republican Base - were aware of the fact that People's Choice Award for Best Picture may not have been legitimate, the damage was done.

I am convinced that this is the key to winning back America. The republicans have invested a tremendous amount of energy into building a massive "Republican Noise Machine", consisting of corporate-backed right-wing think tanks, who continuously feed the mass media with right-wing talking points, biased information, flawed studies, and stories to discredit any liberal story that could damage the republican party.

I mean...just look at the facts. Fox News is the most blatant partisan, biased news source of all time. Right wing radio talk show hosts like Limbaugh and Savage spew lies and hatred on a daily basis. Right wing rags, like the Washington Times and New York Post, help to spread the intellectual dishonesty of the right wing. And yet, there is a continuous attempt to spread allegations of Liberal Media Bias. This is a pre-emptive strike against any liberal source that would make the claim of right-wing bias.

The key to understanding the right-wing media bias prevalent in today's society is to examine the role of corporate-funded right wing think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute. I will examine the role of thes think tanks in greater detail in the upcoming weeks, along with the laxity of the media in blindly repeating the misinformation and talking points propogated by these news sources. For now, I recommend reading David Brock's excellent book the topic, The Republican Noise Machine.