The Right’s Long War on Media

Exclusive: A danger from the mainstream media’s Russia-gate obsession is that it reinforces a longstanding right-wing meme about a “liberal media” out to get conservatives, as Jonathan Marshall explains.

By Jonathan Marshall

Never in modern American history has a president so frontally gone to war with the media as Donald Trump, whose speeches and tweet storms blast critical stories as “fake news” and mainstream news outlets as “the enemy of the American people.”

President Donald Trump being sworn in on Jan. 20, 2017. (Screen shot from Whitehouse.gov)

“Get used to being stigmatized as ‘opposition,’” the head of media at Human Rights Watch warned reporters and editors shortly after the election. “[Trump’s] basic idea is simple: to delegitimize accountability journalism by framing it as partisan.”

So far, the Trumpian strategy seems to be working, at least with his base. A recent poll found that fewer than 10 percent of Republicans trust the media a lot, and 6 in 10 complain that the media “keep political leaders from doing their job.”

Trump’s critics, particularly in the media, portray his assault on the Fourth Estate as a “gift to tyrants everywhere” and as part of a radical campaign to “build an autocracy,” in the words of former Republican speechwriter David Frum.

I share their concerns, even as I readily acknowledge, and have often condemned, the major media’s widespread and sometimes blatant failings to report some subjects as accurately or fairly as they should.

But many of today’s righteous condemners of Trump fail to see that his attacks on the media are really the culmination of a relentless campaign over the past half century by conservatives to undercut institutions that stand in the way of their grab for power.

Leading the Charge

Although presidential attacks on the news media date back to the earliest days of the Republic, the modern conservative war on mainstream media was launched on Nov. 13, 1969, when Vice President Spiro Agnew condemned TV news broadcasters for daring to subject one of President Nixon’s speeches on Vietnam policy to “instant analysis and querulous criticism” instead of allowing him the “right to communicate directly with the people who elected him.”

President Richard Nixon, speaking to the nation on Aug. 8, 1974, announcing his decision to resign.

Ironically, Agnew’s speech was broadcast in prime time by all three major networks. Nixon was thrilled, telling his chief of staff, Bob Haldeman, “SOBs of net[works] must have died when [they] had to carry that.”

The public response strongly favored Agnew’s charges, making the network bosses sweat. White House speechwriter Patrick Buchanan reported happily that “where the Veep is scoring is with the center and right; he has become the acknowledged spokesman of the Middle American, the Robespierre of the Great Silent Majority.”

In his speech, Agnew pointedly remarked that the big broadcasters enjoyed “a monopoly sanctioned and licensed by government,” raising the specter of federal sanctions against them. Walter Cronkite of CBS News called Agnew’s comments “as an implied threat to freedom of speech in this country.”

Cronkite didn’t know the half of it. Nixon ordered up a sustained public campaign to reinforce Agnew’s message, telling aides, “The idea that the press is militantly, viciously against [me] must be hammered home.”

Within days of Agnew’s speech, Haldeman reported that an aide “has asked our most trusted sources at the FBI to get pertinent information from their files and other available sources” on network commentators. At White House direction, 17 reporters were wiretapped on flimsy “national security” grounds. And Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham suspected, but could not prove, a White House role in challenging the licenses of her two Florida television stations, an act she called “the most effective” of all “threats to the company during Watergate.”

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne recalls that Agnew’s “signal political achievement was igniting a campaign that endured for more than four decades painting the mainstream media as biased, liberal and elitist. . . . Rarely has a concerted political effort been more successful. Ever since, reporters, editors and producers have incessantly looked over their right shoulders, fearing they’d be assailed as secret carriers of the liberal virus.”

Accuracy in Media

One key to the “concerted political effort” that followed Agnew’s incendiary speech was the founding in 1969 of the right-wing watchdog group Accuracy in Media (AIM). Through a twice-monthly newsletter, daily radio commentary, weekly newspaper column, newspaper ads, and speakers’ bureau, AIM pounded the mainstream media relentlessly.

President Ronald Reagan meeting with Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt, who was later indicted on charges of genocide against highland Indian tribes.

One of its signature successes was its hounding of New York Times reporter Raymond Bonner for his exposé of the El Mozote massacre of hundreds of civilians by Salvadoran troops in December 1981. Backed by senior officials in the Reagan administration, and the right-wing editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, AIM contested his reporting and declared that Bonner was “worth a division to the communists in Central America.”

The Times, reeling from the criticism, reassigned Bonner to an innocuous financial desk and he eventually resigned. Later investigations by a United Nations-sponsored “truth commission” fully vindicated his courageous reporting.

A decade later, AIM trained its guns on the Clinton administration. AIM was in the vanguard of conservative muckrakers who charged the Clintons with a role in the “murder” of White House staffer Vince Foster, contrary to all official findings. The organization also “argued that the explosion of TWA Flight 800, ruled an accident, was caused by an Iranian missile, which President Clinton supposedly covered up to win re-election.”

In the Obama era, AIM and its director Cliff Kincaid – a former researcher for Oliver North’s Freedom Alliance foundation –spread right-wing conspiracy theories that President Obama was secretly a socialist Muslim, and that Marxists had taken over the Catholic Church to promote a “foreign invasion of the U.S.” by Latino immigrants. AIM also lambasted media reporting — even by Fox News — about the reality of global warming.

What makes AIM so noteworthy is not its familiar right-wing message, but the millions of dollars in funding it received over the years from major corporations to propagate that message. Its funders have reportedly included major oil and chemical companies (Chevron, Exxon, Getty, Mobil Foundation, Phillips Petroleum, Texaco Philanthropic Foundation, and Union Carbide), as well as Bethlehem Steel, Kaiser Aluminum, IBM, and right-wing foundations such as Coors, Scaife, and Smith Richardson.

The Powell Memorandum

Their support reflected a clarion call to arms in August 1971 by Lewis Powell, a prominent corporate lawyer who was nominated later that year to the Supreme Court by President Nixon. In an influential memo to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Powell warned that the “American free enterprise system” was under “broad attack” by “Communists, New Leftists and other revolutionaries who would destroy the entire system, both political and economic.”

Saving the system, he warned, would require “careful long-range planning” and political power that could only be achieved with the “united action” and the full financial backing of corporate America. Powell advocated a multi-decade strategy to target the media, colleges and universities, textbooks, advertising, newsstands, and political financing to reshape attitudes and political power in America.

Among other steps, he recommended, “The national television networks should be monitored in the same way that textbooks should be kept under constant surveillance. This applies not merely to so-called educational programs . . . but to the daily ‘news analysis’ which so often includes the most insidious type of criticism of the enterprise system. . .

“This monitoring, to be effective, would require constant examination of the texts of adequate samples of programs. Complaints — to the media and to the Federal Communications Commission — should be made promptly and strongly when programs are unfair or inaccurate.”

In short, he urged major corporate funding for the very mission AIM was pioneering. AIM now lives in the shadow of other more prominent conservative media organizations that pump out conspiracy theories and even fake news to counter mainstream media narratives. Thus Trump didn’t start the conservatives’ war on the media; he is the result of their longstanding and destructive campaign, as some in their ranks now admit.

“Over the years, we’ve effectively brainwashed the core of our audience to distrust anything that they disagree with,” acknowledged conservative radio host John Zeiger. “And now it’s gone too far. Because the gatekeepers have lost all credibility in the minds of consumers, I don’t see how you reverse it.”

Rebuilding trust in the media — and in the truth — will likely require as many decades and as much collective effort as it took conservatives to tear down that trust in the first place. The job will require constant self-examination by the media to attain higher standards of truth and fairness. It will require new financial models to sustain careful and courageous reporting through challenging political times. And, not least, it will require a degree of sympathy toward the media from progressives, even as they continue offering constructive criticism to keep the media honest.

Jonathan Marshall is a regular contributor to Consortiumnews.com.

 

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43 comments for “The Right’s Long War on Media

  1. Joel Walbert
    July 20, 2017 at 5:13 am

    The media was not, and should not have been trusted long before Trump. And he is 100% in calling out the fake news propaganda machines known as CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, WaPo, NYT, among many, many others. Even Fox, to an ever so slightly lesser extent, can fall into that category.

    As for the ‘being in the way of their power grab’ nonsense, where were all these ‘news’ outlet during the Usuper-in-Chief’s, Obama, un-Constitutional presidency, his power grabs, his going around Congress with illegal EO after EO, after EO, his lie after lie after lie?

    And lastly, about the Clinton Murder Machine, how many people (around 60 now) have to die under very peculiar circumstances, mostly ‘suicides’ & plane crashes, for you simpletons to realize that they murder anyone who gets in their way?

    • Tomk
      July 21, 2017 at 10:52 pm

      Exactly…this piece ignores the reality that the Corporate media lies constantly and serves a globalist agenda not the people of this country…like it would be any loss at all if the NYT’s, WaPo, CNN, NBC etc. were all gone? They are little more than propaganda outlets, give us a break….

      • AC/MA
        July 22, 2017 at 12:26 pm

        Thanks for John birch Society viewpoint

        • Jonathan Kimball
          July 25, 2017 at 3:54 pm

          Distrust of the legacy media outlets is no longer exclusive to the conservative end of the political spectrum. Both the author of the article and you are underestimating how many progressives have become fed up with the inert leadership of the DNC and all of its pawns in the corporate media who help peddle its narrative. Or, alternatively, perhaps you do understand that phenomenon but you’re purposefully ignoring it.

  2. Brad Owen
    July 20, 2017 at 5:27 am

    I rather suspect the playing of the middle (the ordinary regular guy) from both extreme ends (the raging rabble of right-wing populists and the MSM owned by a handful of Oligarchs). I am reminded of how Hitler’s street-fighting SR brown shirts were eliminated by the elite SS after the leadership firmly established themselves in power. Also how the Oligarch-funded provocateurs egged on the Reign of Terror to call forth the Oligarchs’ tyrant Napoleon, all to strangle the French Revolution in the cradle. SOP for the Oligarchy. I think it’s called dialectics?…Thesis, antithesis, synthesis? Anyway, the “beleaguered” poor MSM is a tool of the Oligarchy, bottom line, and I don’t trust it anymore; so it hardly matters to me if a pack of deceivers is taken over by a pack of lyers, I’m still not buying what they’re peddling.

    • Jonathan Kimball
      July 25, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      Suspect? It’s quite evident. CNN/MSNBC/NYT/WaPo et al. are the mirror image of FNC/NY Post et al.

  3. July 20, 2017 at 5:28 am

    Characterising Trump as going to war on the corporate media is rather like characterising North Korea as threatening the US.

  4. Adrian Engler
    July 20, 2017 at 6:46 am

    While it is true that regimes with autocratic tendencies want to delegitimize independent media (even more autocratic regimes ban them), it is also important to recognize that they use the media for propaganda and that therefore, criticism of manipulation by mass media is very important.
    Certainly, there have been efforts of right-wing circles to fight mainstream media for a long time. To some degree, Trump’s attacks on the media can be seen as a continuation of these efforts. However, criticism of media certainly has not been restricted to the right, it has also been an important focus of left-wing thinkers for a long time (e.g. Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky).
    The question is whether the mutual attacks between mainstream media and Donald Trump can exclusively be seen as a continuation of this long right-wing conservative fight against “liberal” media or whether it is also partly a continuation of other, perhaps more well-founded media criticism. Donald Trump as a person certainly has little in common with the values of progressives who have been criticizing the media for very different reasons. But important elements of progressive criticism concern neoconservative foreign policy dogmas and certain neoliberal dogmas about economics that are generally taken for granted in most mainstream media, and the fight of mainstream media against Trump is closely connected with these dogmas. He is rarely criticized for representing the oligarch class, appointing representatives of the banking industry and other oligarchs, and supporting Republican policies that favor a small rich minority to the detriment of a majority of citizens. Rather, most of the criticism is closely connected to neoconservative foreign policy dogmas (he is allegedly too friendly with countries that are demonized and does not pursue neoconservative regime change policies aggressively enough) and neoliberal dogmas (Trump has criticized the predominance of free trade ideology). Therefore, to some degree, Trump’s criticism of corporate media probably really partly coincides with progressive media criticism – even if Trump himself is far from progressive values – and only partly can be seen as a continuation of the traditional right-wing conservative battle against mainstream media.
    It is an important duty of the media to criticize those in power. But it would not be adequate to draw the conclusion that they fulfill their purpose very well because they constantly criticize the US president in a very harsh way. The US obviously has more than one center of power (which, generally speaking, is a good sign, very authoritarian countries don’t have that), and it is far from clear whether the president is really the strongest center of power in the US. While the corporate media criticize Donald Trump all the time, there is very little criticism of the neoconservative foreign policy establishment, the secret services with their surveillance programs, and of the economic elites. On the contrary, much of the criticism of Donald Trump is framed in a way that facilitates a deligimitization of the criticism of these other centers of power – for instance, who is against neoconservative foreign policy dogmas is increasingly depicted as a traitor or a puppet of a foreign power.

    • cmack
      July 20, 2017 at 9:20 am

      trumps attacks on the media seem to be motiviated on a second level by the baiting of him and his supporters through crazy reporting on things so obviously untrue or manipulated…..

      when the media, as a whole, was comparing him to hitler, he fought back…..how can the media be taken seriously after a talking point like that is paraded on so many media outlets?

      and what does that say about the same media that their attempt at bringing down a political candidate by repeated hitler comparisons doesn’t even make a dent in his poll numbers?

  5. Skip Scott
    July 20, 2017 at 6:57 am

    The MSM is a propaganda machine for the Deep State oligarchs. We don’t even have the fairness doctrine to fall back on anymore. Sites like CN are virtually the only place to get honest reporting. Until the MSM is broken up, people who depend on the TV and major newspapers will only get to hear what the corporate overlords want them to hear.

    “The job will require constant self-examination by the media to attain higher standards of truth and fairness.” This line from Jonathan Marshall is utter nonsense. He presumes that they have some interest in self-examination. Their only interest is satisfying their boss, who has no interest in “higher standards of truth and fairness”. If they had any interest in higher standards of truth and fairness, the writers for this website would be making “the big bucks”, and Rachel Madcow and Wolf Blitzer would be bussing tables in some diner.

    • mike k
      July 20, 2017 at 11:27 am

      Right on. Good one.

    • Realist
      July 20, 2017 at 9:54 pm

      Sadly, you are spot on. Absolutely everyone is bemoaning “fake news” these days, but they don’t all mean it. What they most often mean is they revile the truth-tellers. Just today Katey Couric was prominently featured on the MSM news sites complaining about the ubiquity of “fake news,” but I’m pretty sure she wasn’t referring to the bogus narratives put out by the NYT, WaPo, CNN, MSNBC, or whatever corporate behemoth she is now working for. It’s undoubtedly “traitors” and “anarchists” that support Putin and Trump, like the contributors here, that she has a gripe with.

    • Homer Jay
      July 21, 2017 at 6:55 pm

      Thanks for making me laugh! Yes good one indeed. Oh to see Rachel Maddow wiping down a table at my local Waffle House…a guy can dream.

  6. Anon
    July 20, 2017 at 6:59 am

    It’s not about going after conservatives, it’s about going after people who defy the deep state. Democrats are happy to comply with the deep state because they don’t stand for anything at all.

    • cmack
      July 20, 2017 at 9:14 am

      true dat

    • Homer Jay
      July 21, 2017 at 7:03 pm

      Yes, I recall as a child watching Sunday talking heads with my parents, asking my dad why America was always right in every conflict be it in war or otherwise. Anon your comment provides the answer.

  7. Herman
    July 20, 2017 at 8:25 am

    “Get used to being stigmatized as ‘opposition,’” the head of media at Human Rights Watch warned reporters and editors shortly after the election. “[Trump’s] basic idea is simple: to delegitimize accountability journalism by framing it as partisan.”

    Professor Marshall chose a tough subject. He is right that the media should be free from government interference but in doing so he puts himself in the position, not intentionally, of defending a very unfree media whose agenda is too often that of very powerful people.

    The mainstream media has never been free, never will be, and as such becomes fair game for its targets to fight back. When you’re outgunned, you fight dirty.

    As to what to do about, we need something similar to the anti-trust movement and break up powerful media conglomerates. Try to get that past the media. Like trying to get the money out of politics when most of the money goes in the pockets of the media.

  8. cmack
    July 20, 2017 at 9:13 am

    all politicians have waged war on the media….when their reporting didn’t suit them. but the fact is that the present mainstream media is almost wholly made up of ideologues from the left. you can’t avoid them. unless you watch fox….ideologues from the right. who, by the way, were anti trump for quite a long time.

    fox news would have never existed were it not for the slanted news that predated it.

    someone should write a good article about how the left took over the media…..

    personally, i don’t really care anymore because alternative media is where the real reporting is anyway…..left and right

  9. Bob Van Noy
    July 20, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Thank you Jonathan Marshall for this timely essay and Robert Parry for bringing it to us. I’m especially pleased to see current emphasis on the Powell Memo because it has always seemed to me to represent a paradigm shift in media coverage to a sort of Corporate oriented bent.
    As a veteran in college in the sixties, I often wondered why the blue collar workers and the anti-war left couldn’t coalesce into a powerful anti Vietnam War force. It seemed to be a natural combination against a War that was not in our best interest, as a Country. In later years, I learned about the evil mix of President Nixon and what would become Roger Ailes media empire. Together they built an unparalleled media disinformation machine. Ailes would go on to advise Ronald Regan and George H. W. Bush. The teams of disinformation specialists assembled by those politicians continue to this very day and represent a large part of why the fourth estate has lost its credibility. Of course the political opposition is no better, and now they seem to have coalesced into one giant Neocon monster.

    • Joe Tedesky
      July 20, 2017 at 3:59 pm

      I too Bob think that the Powell Memo was a strong keystone in the building block process of the Right getting it’s self together, to beat back the Left’s influence. When I read what Lewis Powell wrote, it amazes me to no end of how the Right has done everything that Powell had advised when he wrote his infamous memo. Seriously, when you read what Powell wrote, in your head do you hear Lewis Powell screaming out for a FOX news?

      Back in the late 60’s I did ask my Union Labor friends to why they didn’t support the Anti-War Protesters. I recall how the Union Worker didn’t want to be associated with a bunch of hippies. Although the older Union Worker by their age difference made their prejudice seemed natural, a generation gap if you will, but the younger Union Worker was already starting to let their hair grow long, and who didn’t hit on a ‘doobie’ after a few beers on a Saturday night. Yet, none the less the two groups weren’t able to join hands over some small cosmetic differences, and I always thought that a shame.

      Since the end of the draft it is apparent that the rich corporate types who run this country, decided they don’t need the public since the public does nothing for them. Gone are the civilian soldiers, and sailors, and gone is the constant reminder to the military of the values these uniformed citizens represented. Oh, and gone are the nagging protesters outside the military bases front gate. Since the end of the draft, and the dawn of the voluntary army, if you haven’t noticed that the MSM never replaced Walter Cronkite, well ask yourself how important is criticizing an institution where nobody serves that institution? It’s all changed, and not for the better.

      Damn Warmongers!

    • Gregory Herr
      July 20, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      “disinformation specialists” …now that’s a heckuva euphemism!

    • Tomk
      July 21, 2017 at 10:57 pm

      Yes, NYTs, WaPo, CNN, ABC etc….they’re just great! LOL–nothing but propaganda and lies for the rubes…there is no “free” press in the USA, it is all worse than PRAVDA! Get a clue and this writer is disingenuous because he isn’t that stupid, he knows the truth but to state it would put him out the black list and he doesn’t want that….

      • Jonathan Kimball
        July 25, 2017 at 4:17 pm

        I agree wholeheartedly with your main point, but there is free press in small smaller online outlets and YouTube. News and commentary with less deep state spin can often be found on sites like counterpunch, counter propa, the intercept and truthdig. And good commentary, comedy and analysis can be found on YouTube by following H.A. Goodman, Jimmy Dore, Lee Camp/Redacted Tonight, Watching the Hawks, the Sane Progressive, Tim Black, Niko House, Hard Bastard, Jordan Chariton and many others who provide a different viewpoint from the corporate/deep state narrative of the legacy media.

  10. exiled off mainstreet
    July 20, 2017 at 10:36 am

    The right’s ’60s-70s war on media led in the 80s to the media becoming a handmaiden of the state. After the Clintons’ hostile takeover of the democratic party, it became an adjunct to an increasingly fascist power structure. At the present time, more of what was the “right” is no longer on board with this power structure since the “left” other than real critical thinkers and those looking at websites such as this one rather than the panoply of those that sold out seem to have been totally taken in by the fascist nihilist militarist kool-aid the media is selling. Since what they sell results in the end in death, this is a life and death battle against a propaganda structure whose plan, whether wittingly or not, will result in our extinction if allowed to succeed, we should welcome all resistance whether it is labelled ‘left’ or ‘right.’ What it now boils down to is truth versus nihilist power propaganda

  11. Joe L.
    July 20, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Right wing, left wing… the media lies. Go back to WW2 and move forward through historic events such as coups etc. in the New York Times, Washington Post etc. and see what the reporting was compared to what we know as truth now. Mossadegh was Time’s “Man of the Year” but became a villain when he wanted to nationalize Iran’s oil then, I think, he was basically reported as a dictator. Read about William L. Laurence, a Pulitzer Prize Winner, who was on the payroll of the US War Department during WW2 meanwhile working for the New York Times and he reported that there was no radiation fallout still killing Japanese people and anything that said otherwise was “Japanese Propaganda” etc. Even look at US elections and how the mainstream media attempts to choose the candidates for the American people rather than give all of them fair time and allow the American people to choose for themselves. I thought the mainstream media was very unfair to Ron Paul in the previous election and then look at what they did to Bernie Sanders in this election (Bernie Sanders, I believe, being the most popular political figure in the US whom I believe would have trounced Trump if the DNC didn’t railroad him).

    So when Trump calls out “Fake News”, it is one of the few things that I actually do agree with him on.

    • Joe Tedesky
      July 20, 2017 at 4:10 pm

      How’s everything in Canada Joe L?

      I’m going to post on a separate comment a link to an article written by Carl Bernstein.

      “THE CIA AND THE MEDIA

      How Americas Most Powerful News Media Worked Hand in Glove with the Central Intelligence Agency and Why the Church Committee Covered It Up”

      This article goes into detail of what you are referring too Joe L. Yes the media for a very longtime has been in bed with the CIA and other intelligence agencies. This relationship probably made a ton of sense during the time we fought Hitler, or others that we truly believed were bad, but then there is the carry over of that, and whatever it is the CIA was looking to do besides bring down evil dictators.

      Today the MSM works in conjunction with our CIA, FBI, Pentagon, and NSA, along with other parties who represent the Deep State. (excuse the Deep State reference, but it does seem to work when describing such underground forces) We Americans have been reduced to being simply an audience. I seriously don’t think we are looked upon as anything other that viewers, as demographics, is what it is all about.

  12. July 20, 2017 at 11:15 am

    Using the original meaning of Liberal, “Liberal bias” is a contradiction in terms.

    In November 1962, Nixon blamed his gubernatorial defeat on the press, noting that they had “had a lot of fun “ with him. And he introduced that classic phrase “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore….”

    GringoBob

  13. mike k
    July 20, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Remember the Maine? Power corrupts. Yellow journalism has a long history, and is practiced today with increased impact due to tons of research in how to make propaganda most effective. Without an education teaching how to think for yourself and see through the advertising, lies, and scams that we are constantly bombarded with, the average citizen is the helpless victim of it all, and ends up with no real ideas of her/his own. Plato’s Socrates called this one out long ago. Sitting in one’s man-cave watching the flickering images, one has little chance of discerning reality as it is.

    • Realist
      July 20, 2017 at 11:05 pm

      Yeah, I remember the Maine. It blew up either as part of a false flag operation or due to poor design or maintenance. Took them nearly 100 years to drag up the wreck from the bottom of Havana Harbor and establish the facts. We might not have had our glorious little war (or our off-shore gulag at Guantanamo) if they had conducted an investigation in 1898.

  14. Hank
    July 20, 2017 at 11:51 am

    I doubt AIM represents the deep state and while AIM appears to have made some outrageous accusations according to this article, I find one completely misrepresented: that being the Vince Foster case. Anyone looking into this case finds many anomalies that just do not fit the conclusions. This said I have never been a reader of AIM. I do read a number of diverse & foreign news outlets and believe the Mainstream media in the US is controlled and reports false information on foreign affairs events on a regular basis, for example Ukraine, Russia, Syria etc.

  15. July 20, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    I believe it’s still the T.V. media where most Americans get their “news” and ironically the only bright light in this sector is RT America which seems to be the only T.V. channel that offers an alternative view, particularly on the international scene. The news, of course, has a Russian bias but the reporters most often skillfully base that bias on facts(a refreshing change). The programming offers a platform for provocative interviews with left/libertarian perspectives from people that are blacklisted on MSM. In addition there is no commercial advertising except for the channel programs themselves under the pertinent slogan”question more”. Understandably the programming avoids criticism of Putin and goes light on criticizing Trump foreign policy when it diverges from Russian interests. The editor, Margarita Simonyan is obviously walking a tightrope with all the anti-Russian hysteria and the drumbeat of Russian propaganda from congress but she has provided a valuable media asset for viewers that are tired of the false balance of MSM.

    • Jonathan Kimball
      July 25, 2017 at 4:24 pm

      RT is inconsistent. While Redacted Tonight, Watching the Hawks and the news segments almost always buck the corporate media narrative, Thom Hartman and Larry King are so consistently parroting DNC propaganda that they could just as easily be on CNN or MSNBC.

  16. Mark Thomason
    July 20, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    The mainstream media has been quite openly at war with Trump since before the election, when it was an extension of Hillary’s campaign. Denying that ruins credibility. The only credible way to explain it is to own it, and just claim the media was right all along. That however admits the Republican position and abandons the American media claim to objective non-partisanship. It puts the American media in the same position as the openly partisan British media — and that has become the truth.

  17. Constantine
    July 20, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    That was a very poor article by Mr. Marshall. His argument is as weak as one can find on the subject. The only political Right that has dominance in US politics (ad beyond) today is the neoliberal Right. And the MSM in the bastion of neoliberalism serve this ideology faithfully.

    Now, Trump’s confrontation with the media is a direct consequence of their attack on a maverick candidate of the populist Right. Had there been a successful leftist to win the DNC candidacy against the pre-selected neoliberal warmonger and had he gone all the way to beat a typical, run-of-the-mill Republican, just as supportive of neoliberal policies and bloody interventions, the same MSM would be on a hyperdrive to pull down such a President. Communist tendencies, Russian backing, utopian radicalism, you name it.

    In short, Marshall has failed to point the actual aim of the dominant media today and that is not ”to defend democracy from the right” and all that claptrap, but to buttress the rule of the corporate oligarchy and the imperialist course of the country against any comers, whether from the Left or the Right. Thus, anyone opting for a different course will come by default into collision with the MSM.

    • Dave P.
      July 21, 2017 at 12:28 am

      Constantine: I agree with you 100%. You have accurately pointed out the role of MSM in very concise terms. This article by Jonathan Marshall is way off the mark.

    • Skip Scott
      July 21, 2017 at 8:27 am

      Constantine-

      Great comment, and spot on. The entrenched power structure is ready to meet any challenge. Their goal is that the forever war continues and that globalization runs amok.

  18. Bill
    July 21, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    Many Democrats believe the fairy-tale that they can trust the NY Times for the truth. We’ve seen that paper go downhill, and now they’ve become advocates for causes, including bringing down Trump, and getting the US involved in some more wars.

  19. James Stewart
    July 25, 2017 at 2:18 am

    Jonathan Marshall’s concern at the the longstanding right-wing meme about “liberal media” out to get conservatives is itself a product of an even longer standing meme. It’s called the two-party system, and came into existence where and when governments from London to the Kremlin wanted to be seen as “democratic”.

    In 1920 evidence of their use of ballots to “defeat the franchise” voided a 2018 Australian election. In 2003 a News Corp publication misrepresented a police Crime Report as ‘Thumbs up for counting system’. There’s more but is even Jonathan willing to investigate and publish the evidence. Why would he unless we can get an “independent” establishment media editor to admit and correct his/her failure to understand how two-party systems everywhere maintain unpopular dishonest politicians when most of us have wanted honest politicians and governments!

  20. anarchyst
    July 25, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    The so-called “news media” has never been honest. There has always been an agenda. From “Remember the Maine” to New York Times’ “Pulitzer prize-winning” Walter Duranty extolling the virtues of communism, while millions of Ukrainians were starving under a Bolshevik-enforced artificial “famine”, the media has never been honest.
    Fast forward to the 1968 Tet offensive, despite American and South Vietnamese successes, premier communist “anchorman” Walter Cronkite declared the Tet offensive to be a “turning point” citing (nonexistent) American losses. In fact, North Vietnamese General Giap credited the American media with giving them “new resolve” to push on. The North Vietnamese were ready to negotiate and settle in 1968 until the American media “snatched defeat from the jaws of victory”.
    Let’s not forget the NBC fiasco, rigging GMC pickup trucks to explode, “doctoring” George Zimmerman’s 9-11 conversation to make him appear “racist”, describing him as a “white Hispanic”, and showing “poor little” Trayvon Martin’s picture as a 12-year-old rather than his current “thug” picture.
    The press has always had communist leanings and has always been dishonest. The “mainstream media” realizes that its “control of the narrative” has slipped away, with the advent of the Internet. The internet makes it possible for ANYONE to be a true journalist, quite often getting the story first and reporting TRUTHFULLY–something that has been missing in mainstream journalism for a very long time.
    Presently, there are calls by “mainstream media” types to “license” journalists. Under their scheme, anyone not “licensed” would not have “protections” as a journalist. Twenty years ago, any journalist suggesting such a scheme would have been (rightly) thrown out on his ear.
    President Trump has made a smart move by “twittering”. In this way, he avoids allowing the media to “shape the narrative” and gets his message out, without any filtering and possible media twisting of the narrative.

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