A Call for a Liberal Media

The Democratic Party, and I believe America as well, needs one scrupulously honest, unabashedly Democratic Liberal television network.

I state the following to be empirical, provable fact: Every major media outlet in the United States delivers the Republican campaign message to their readers, listeners, or viewers at least once every day. There is no major media outlet which delivers an equivalent Democratic message on a daily basis. For the Republican worldview in operation observe the photograph below.

Three guys in suits and ties and a pretty woman with bare arms

The Republicans have a system to deliver their message, their entire message, to virtually every American all the time. Not absolutely all choose to receive it, but every American who absorbs, watches, reads, or listens to mainstream TV, radio, or news internet hears the Republican message every day. I don’t care what channel you watch.

Print media isn’t that good, either, but there are some exceptions among print. There are no exceptions to my statement among major national broadcast outlets. I specifically include the National Public Broadcasting ecosystem.

The Democrats do not have an equivalent system. If an American wants to participate in nationwide media, it’s Republicanism or nothing.

Rush the Fat Guy
The Fat Guy

Americans have a choice between an unabashedly hard right media narrative, or a namby-pamby, unassertive, make believe Centrist media narrative. Under either system, Republicans are allowed to state their position on any issue every day, at length, specifically including if that position is known in advance to be empirically, provably, a lie.

So their lie gets broadcast. Again. Then Democrats are invited to talk about… their lie. And we do. Then comes the next story. And that is called “objective journalism.”

That is blatant hooey. There is no possible definition of journalism in which factual reality is not of paramount importance. Everything else is fiction. Fiction is a legitimate art form, but it must not be sold as journalism.

The Democratic Party, and I believe America as well, needs one scrupulously honest, unabashedly Democratic Liberal television network.

There is no one-party state in the world that is socially and economically healthy. We live, today, in a one party state because we have one party media.It began while we still had a Democrat in the White House. More on that here.

We need a Democratic nationwide broadcast full spectrum network, television and radio, that is better than anything they’ve got. More entertaining. Funnier. More persuasive. I’m not talking about some fusty C-Span clone where we drone on about policies. I’m talking about complete television and radio ecosystems where the news is scrupulously honest, but where our take on it is rooted and expressed in Democratic values. For example, our network does not broadcast the viewpoint that taxes are bad and plutocrats are better or more important than other people. At all. Everybody else does that; we don’t need to. Plutocrats can be ok; they’re rich; they can afford to help out.

And we’ve got to be more fun to watch than any other network.

We ought to gather up all our stars off late night comedy, which is usually the most accurate news programming ever seen outside Rachel Maddow, and put them on one network from morning to night. John Oliver. Seth Meyers, Sam Bee, Larry Wilmore, Steven Colbert, Geeze y’all, I don’t even watch TV and I know that many names. I don’t know who else, but we’ve got 24 X 7 to fill. Radio too.

Rachel Maddow, of course, and Lawrence O’Donnel. Joy Ann Reid. Gather up all our stars on one network. Get Al Franken to do a weekly radio program. I’m serious.

Everybody crawl on their bellies to Jon Stewart and beg him to come out of retirement for a serious gig being who he is. Radio or TV, his choice.

I’m going to take the liberty here to define Democratic values. I don’t speak for every Democrat, but this is a good faith effort.

Democrats believe that a good, functioning government can solve social and economic problems that cannot be solved by any other entity.

Democrats believe that, although scientists don’t know everything there is, science is the way to bet, and that betting against science is a sure fire recipe for disaster.

Democrats believe that the very richest among us, the people who have benefited the very most from life in America, can help out the people who haven’t done as well, and can fund some other public needs like a sensible, non-carbon-based nationwide transportation system.

Democrats believe that everybody has the right to a fair shake. We don’t care where you go to church, who you love, what color you are, or what your IQ is, we believe you have a right to be warm and well fed in America and should have a realistic chance to do such work as you are capable of, and make a decent living doing it. And be left alone to live in peace.

Democrats believe that if your church says you should not do something or marry somebody then you yourself should not do that. However, nobody else is obligated to what your church believes. At all. We actually don’t care. It’s not relevant to governing.

Democrats believe that when Americans get sick they have the right to go to a doctor and get the best treatment realistically available. We also understand that everybody dies sooner or later and we should help make that transformation as easy as we can for people.

We believe that, by ratifying and agreeing to our Constitution, Americans agreed join together for our common defense and to promote our general welfare. Because that’s what it says, after which it spells out some details. Republicans stopped reading after they saw the word defense.

We don’t think government is everything, but we believe that a good functioning government is necessary for a healthy and free society. We understand that everybody everywhere lives under some government. so we think we ought to make ours the very best that we can for our people.

This latter statement is our fundamental disagreement with Republicans. We acknowledge, out loud, that government is necessary and can be good. Our viewpoint cannot be seen or heard on television or radio. And it must be if the nation is to survive. Therefore we need to own our own TV and radio network, nationwide, full time, glossy, slick, funny entertaining, and telling the news from that perspective.

On our TV network we don’t argue with Republicans. We mostly ignore Republicans. When we can’t help but notice them we make fun of them. Republicans sell their story all day every day on every TV network. We don’t help them. This country needs to hear the Democratic perspective. It is not.

Right now we Democrats discuss among ourselves whether we should maximize or minimize “identity politics”, whether we should talk to voters in red states and what we should say to them, whether we should reach out to the or a working class and which one by what color…

It makes little difference. Nobody outside the club hears a word we say. We don’t own a TV network. We don’t have a talk radio network. We are only present in the public conversation to respond to Republicans. We have no other media visibility.

We hear each other on social media. And late-night TV. We have a handful of poverty stricken, unprofessional “community” radio stations staggering awkwardly from topic to topic. They’re on our side but they’re hard to listen to.  We’ve got some obscure, nearly anonymous bloggers and essayists like me. We’ve got podcasts and YouTube channels. We reach the people who are so sure they want to hear us talk they search us out. That’s not good enough.

In America “media” means, “Television and radio.” Americans spend untold hours in their cars; radio owns that audience. The workplace environment varies widely, but there are many Americans at work at any given moment listening to radio, with a smaller number watching television. TV is king, though. The average American watches over 5 hours of television a day. Newspapers are dying like dinosaurs after the meteor.

The American mainstream media ecosystem extends from the far, hard right, to the “right of center” right. There is a fiction of objectivity which underlies this. For every Rachel Maddow there is at least one Joe Scarborough + Mika Brzeznski, and that is as good as it gets.

This essay is about the entire ecosystem known by the name Mainstream Media in America. I am emphatically not talking just about FOX. Fox is a somewhat different issue.

Regular readers know that I do not voluntarily watch, or even sit in front of while running, television. I will leave a room to get away from a television. I will sit in the hall outside the waiting room at the hospital. But I read lots of news online, which means I can’t entirely avoid TV clips. I almost never see a clip of mainstream news or near-news (the distinction is too blurry to be sure) that does not explicitly express the Republican viewpoint. If I’m seeing that much of it, the rest of you are seeing more.

Some billionaire is passing up a chance to make a ton of money here. We outnumber all the other stations’ viewers put together. Look what Maddow and O’Donnel have done, and they don’t even have strong parent company support. We desperately need one smart, liberal billionaire who’d like to earn a lot of money by saving America. Warren Buffet, got a minute?

We need a media voice that does not even pretend to treat a lie with respect. Global Warming Denier? Go away. You are too full of shit to honor with refutation. That’s been done already.

We can have panel discussions about economy, tax policy, trade policy – but no Voodoo Economists. Put Paul Krugman on a panel with two or three other economists who generally share share his worldview and discuss how to actually solve some problems. Blow off these shouting matches. Don’t you think there is a liberal audience for thoughtful discussion without shouting? Or is it Pro Wrestling as News Forever and Ever Amen?

When we report on Flynn we don’t say, “Lt. Gen. Flynn,” we say, “Registered foreign agent Flynn.” It’s equally true. In 2017 it is significantly more relevant.

Under-reported facts abound. CNN doesn’t introduce Sessions with “Perjurer.” Why not?

“Jared Kuchner, the President’s son in law…” How about “Jared Kuchner, who has twice falsified security application documents…”

Facts are facts. Somebody needs to report a few.

We need a network that airs nobody from the Republican side. Not to argue with, not to refute, not to laugh at: not. Everybody else is doing that. People want to see Republicans on TV they’ve got their whole remote to choose from. I believe it is time for a station where everybody on the air lives in reality on planet earth. I think a good marketer could sell one.

After that all we have to do is replace Google with a facts prioritized search engine.

Because it’s true: fact do have a known liberal bias. So running a no-bullshit alternative media ecosystem would be the most large-D Democratic thing we could do.

And if we don’t we’re dead.

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9 thoughts on “A Call for a Liberal Media”

  1. I hope someone finds that billionaire! We need him/her! (By the way, how many male billionaires are there in America compared to how many female billionaires?)

    1. Way more. Bloomberg has a list of all the billionaires in the world. I looked at it for a while before I wrote this, pondering how to say this. I wasn’t paying any attention to gender, but I think mostly males.

  2. We already have some. Stephanie Miller. Free Speech TV. Sirius XM Liberal Channels. WCPT. That’s the beginning. Why not throw some money at them so they can expand?

    1. Because they’re the minor leagues. If it ain’t a TV Network – Fox, MSNBC, CNN, TNT, MTV – if it doesn’t have a button on the remote, it’s minor leagues. And the Sirius channels I listened to were very disappointing. By my personal standards anyway. I’ll be cancelling that subscription.

      1. They may be the minor leagues but right-wing media is on tiny AM stations. And they started off that way and were able to make a few people national figures like Rush and Hannity. This paved the way for Fox News.

        And those minor radio stations reach millions on a daily basic by being there and being the only voice available while people are sitting in the car or working on the car.

        Everything starts small and if they hit a nerve, grow

        1. And looking for a billionaire to start Liberal Media TV from the top is a great way to attract prima donnas who don’t want to do the hard work of audience building and who have other interests they don’t want to endanger by being too outspoken. It’s also a passive-aggressive way of not confronting the right-wing media machine by actually getting out there and creating media from scratch. I saw this phenomenon work out with Air America Radio. While the celebrities attracted attention, they really weren’t dedicated to the hard work of long-term audience building.

          1. Did you ever read this essay?
            I wrote it long before the one you object to. It’s on the table of contents. It’s older than Donald Trump’s presidency.

            I am not committed to any one path. I am, however, certain that the path we are on is not working.

            I have my site. A few hundred people a week read it. WaHoo! A hundred thousand a week or more read Breitbart. Why? Well, it doesn’t hurt them to have billionaire funders.

            If you don’t like my ideas come up with some of your own. I’m one feeble old man trying to do some good. I’d love for somebody to make my efforts unnecessary.

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