Ever get into it with someone over something in the news?
In today’s media climate, one person involved in that conversation is inevitably going to take a swipe at the “liberal bias” networks like CNN and MSNBC reportedly espouse.
Although its grip is beginning to slip, Fox News is still getting away with the “fair and balanced” slogan, mostly because among its dedicated audience, it can set itself apart as the only truly conservative cable news outlet.
Right-wing media has successfully convinced large swaths of the population everything that isn’t Fox, Breitbart, Red State, The Washington Times, or the New York Post, etc. is inherently “liberal” simply by dint of it not being one of them.
Bill Clinton finally put it in its coffin ten years later when he signed the Telecommunications Act.
Since then, the so-called “liberal” media has become nothing more than a weak generic misnomer for anything not overtly pandering to the billionaire agenda.
CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC–all the major national news conglomerates–are not liberal; they’re multi-million dollar corporate juggernauts with banking, advertising, airline, automobile, insurance, food industry, retail, and telecommunications executives sitting on their boards of directors, married to the almighty dollar/ratings.
This is why all we get from them is horse-race, personality-driven, scandal-mongering clickbait, not issues.
Fox doesn’t need to shackle itself to this rubric, though, because, unlike the other outlets, it has its own revenue source–billionaire Rupert Murdoch.
Lately, however, those other outlets seem to be competing with Fox for conservative bona fides.
Despite being taunted as the “Clinton News Network” and “fake news,” CNN just hired Republican spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur, to serve as political editor.
Former Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions was apparently interested in hiring Isgur for his chief spokeswoman until he discovered she had “criticized [President Donald] Trump, repeatedly, during the 2016 Republican primaries” when she tweeted in response to Trump threatening to arrest Hillary Clinton:
“Saying you will criminally prosecute your political opponent when you win is a scary and dangerous threat.”
But not to worry.
According to The Washington Post, Isgur paid Trump “a cordial visit during which she told the president she was on board with his agenda and would be honored to serve him.”
Starting in March, Isgur “will coordinate political coverage for the 2020 campaign.”
Her credentials for this position include, in addition to serving as Jeff Sessions’ spokesperson, working for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the Republican National Committee (RNC), and businesswoman Carly Fiorina’s brief 2016 presidential campaign.
She has never held a job as a journalist.
Because of her past Justice Department employment, Isgur is not going to cover DOJ-related news lest it present a conflict of interest.
As Media Matters senior writer, Simon Maloy, posited:
“How on earth can a cable news channel have a political editor who can’t cover DOJ? The workings of the Justice Department are at the heart of some of the most critically important political stories of the Trump era. The Russia investigation and the special counsel’s office are going to be hugely important topics for the 2020 campaign, and Democratic candidates are likely going to spend considerable energy attacking DOJ policies that Isgur defended, such as Sessions’ legal assault on sanctuary laws for undocumented immigrants.”
Isgur is a vehement anti-choice zealot who has tweeted such lies as:
But Isgur is not the only one at CNN employs to promote right-wing talking points.
What the network failed to disclose was Jennings’ connections to RunSwitch, a public relations firm representing those very sectors.
But let’s not let CNN take all the hits.
MSNBC is loading its commentator deck with right-wingers too.
Jeff Cohen, author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media, said:
“Look at who MSNBC’s heroes seem to be lately: war hawks and perjurers formerly with U.S. intelligence and the Pentagon. Their parade of ex-military analysts have a track record of getting the facts wrong or dissembling, but that’s ancient history not to be discussed as long as they’re willing to even tepidly criticize Trump.”
The minimum wage?
The wave of teachers’ strikes?
The 2017 GOP tax scam?
You’re kidding, right?
Student loan debt?
How about delineating where the 2020 presidential candidates stand on the issues?
Here we have a true progressive with a stalwart reputation for attacking Wall Street banks’ greed and perfidy. She wants to “level the playing field” for average Americans who have been cut out of the neo-liberal landscape. These are people who have given up on the Democratic party due to a quarter century of DLC “Third-Way” capitulation to lobbyists and party power brokers, Republican compromise, and economic half-measures. These are people who yearn to return to the prosperity of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal we practiced from 1933 to the 1980s’ Reagan Revolution.
But is the corporate media focusing at all on Warren’s plan for universal health care? Is it providing any details about her college affordability plan? Is it concerned even one iota with her stance on the environment, infrastructure, campaign finance reform, criminal justice reform, or foreign policy?
Because she released DNA test results confirming there is “strong evidence” she has Native American blood in her.
So let’s instead manufacture an issue over the supposed outrage the Native American community is expressing over this use of the DNA test as a campaign prop.
Then there is the right’s favorite new punching bag, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Predictably, CBS conspicuously did not give the new House Democrat an opportunity to talk about her support for the Green New Deal, HR 1, or the progressive Democratic platform in her 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper.
Instead, Cooper encouraged her to trash Trump, asking her (after making sure he got in the “Democratic Socialist” label) if she thinks the president is a racist.
We already know the answer. He got her to admit it on national television.
Do you hear that?
It’s the sound of corporate lucre hitting the pan.
But that isn’t enough. Not for the insatiable media appetite for clicks.
Anderson Cooper wanted AOC to admit her hypothetical 70% tax rate on the top earners is “radical.”
From the 1930s to the 1960s, the top marginal tax rate was 91% until President Lyndon Johnson lowered it to 74%.
It was Ronald Reagan who dropped it down to 50%, then to 28%.
CBS and Anderson Cooper just couldn’t resist towing the donor class’s line, though, could they?
And then there’s Trumping up possible conflict with Venezuela.
Nothing would please the mainstream media more.
If the corporate media actually revealed to the public the role the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies have always played, sometimes not so surreptitiously, perhaps there would be enough outcry to change the traditional trajectory.
As Matt Taibbi writes in his book Insane Clown President: Dispatches From the 2016 Circus:
“They [right-wing and moderate media] are really just two different strategies of the same kind of nihilistic lizard-brain sensationalism. The ideal CNN story is a baby down a well, while the ideal Fox story is probably a baby thrown down a well by a Muslim terrorist or an ACORN activist. Both companies offer the same service, it’s just that the Fox version is a little kinkier.”
Chris Hedges nails it when he states:
“The corporate media ignores issues and policies, since there is little genuine disagreement among the candidates, and presents the race as a beauty contest. The fundamental question the press asks is not what do the candidates stand for but whom do the voters like.”
At a time when smaller, independent media agencies are folding, we risk losing dialog on the issues that most Americans care about.
In February 2016, former CBS executive chairman and CEO, Les Moonves, told the Hollywood Reporter:
“It [Trump’s candidacy] may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS…Man, who would have expected the ride we’re all having right now?… The money’s rolling in and this is fun…I’ve never seen anything like this, and this going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going.”
As long as our media puts profits above information, we will never be genuinely informed.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons