Sunday, February 10, 2008

Editorial: State of 'Independent' Media

If you missed it, among the big complaints about the Democratic Party this decade is that they move to the center, they try to be Republicans and they neglect the base.

If the argument sounds familiar (and we're not disagreeing with it), you may have found it non-stop in publications such as The Nation. In fact, let's name a few of the bulls**t artists of the past years with the magazine: Katrina vanden Heuvel, Laura Flanders and John Nichols. (Not named but a bulls**ter? You must be a coffee fetcher. That would be the Airs and Chrissy among others.)

In one way or another, all have argued that the Democratic Party needs to stop running from its base. They've argued many things but it's all bulls**t. They're not just whores, they're horny whores. Listen, we can hear them singing now.

When I say I'm in love
You best believe I'm in love
Here comes my guy
Walking down the street
Look how he walks
With a dancing beat

Lay one on him, girls.


We're not sure if it's love, but we won't argue that they've got major Bambi Lust. It's why they don't give a damn about Democrats as they rush to embrace Independent Courter Barack Obama.

From "Roundtable" (January 13, 2008):

Jim: C.I. made a point on Tuesday and I claimed it in the name of The Third Estate Sunday Review. On Tuesday, Hillary had won the New Hampshire primary, for anyone who missed that last week. And C.I. was looking at the exit polls with a friend with the wire service and I'll turn it over to C.I.

C.I.: I think this has been reported at length but I don't know that people are grasping it. It was true in Iowa as well. And this isn't an endorsement of any candidate. But what I was explaining to Jim over the phone was that the smartest thing for the Democratic Party -- strategically -- would be to nominate Hillary Clinton. Her base continues to be the Democratic Party and what's showing up is that her base is lower income Democrats who are not always prone to voting. There's a great deal being made about how Bambi's bringing in 'independents' and Republicans and that's actually not a good thing. I'll get to that in a moment. What Hillary's doing is bringing in lower income Democrats in larger numbers than is generally expected in a primary. Having voted for her in the primary, one could expect them to show up in at least similar numbers in the general election.

That trend has continued. Hillary Clinton remains the choice of working class Democrats. That group is what as known as a "base" for the Democratic Party.

It's a base that 'alternative' media has a really hard time connecting with and that's never been more true than this election cycle. Professor Patti Williams signaled what was to come in 2007 when she appeared on KPFA and couldn't stop raving about Bambi being qualified because he was the former president of the Harvard Law Review. You could almost picture her polishing her tiara in anticipation of the 2009 inauguration.

In the real world that 'qualification' means nothing. In the elitist world on independent media, it means so much. And they drove home how much it meant to them as they churned out one piece after another praising Bambi's 'educated' support, his 'well off' support.

If you've forgotten independent media's public embarrassment following the 2004 election, it included buying into the myth of 'value voters' and going over board to court religious people, to court gun owners, and hula hoops that would help them 'speak' to 'regular' people.

Along comes Bambi and his yuppie supporters and they get so giddy they forget about all of that.

They don't care a damn about the working poor. Or as C.I. so aptly explained in Wednesday's "Iraq snapshot," "See, Frances Fox Piven likes to talk about the poor and working poor, she just doesn't like listening to them."

The working class turns out in droves, over and over, and makes Hillary Clinton their choice. The response from 'independent media' is snit fits. And wait until after the election when they again fret over how to connect with 'regular' people.

Turning to In These Times (which gets a link though the article in question will not), we find Sad Sirota whom most readers will remember justified and minimized War Hawk David Obey's attack on Tina Richards. Sad Sirota likes Dem-lite and has tried real hard to fit in with the 'working class' but never will as he stomps his feet in anger over the fact that, "But Clinton, the person whose globalization policies helped shutter those factories, is winning blue-collar strongholds." Sad, Sad Sirota showed up pompous and pissed at the end of last week to announce a discovery: a class distinction (he termed it a "war" -- and maybe it is to him -- maybe it is a war when the working class won't do as 'independent' media tells them). Late Wednesday night Air Mebler also discovered the class distinction. We think it's amazing the power of one one-liner and how it suddenly prompted 'independent' media to deal with reality. Welcome, Late To The Party Boys, but let's fall back to January 27th when the topic was already being discussed truthfully:

The second thing is all the elitism going on. Let's remember that following the 2004 election, 'independent' media and its leaders had strategy sessions about how to appeal to 'average voters.' They bought into the 'value voters' myth (which never existed -- Adam Nagourney and Janet Elder invented that by distorting the paper's own polling -- we covered it in November of 2004) and were in a panic. They needed 'devices' and 'hula hoops' and ways to reach the 'average voter.' That's really pathetic and goes to how out of touch our indymedia 'leaders' are. But note who is voting for Hillary and, to a lesser degree, for John: low income workers. That's been true in every state. And if 'independent' media wonders why they are so 'out of touch' with average voters -- it may be due to the fact that they are so damn insulting to them.

They've told them that they are idiots for supporting Hillary (and if they support John, they see him ignored over and over). They are told that they need to follow a craze (one that indymedia created and still works over time to prop up). Did they ever consider the fact that when you're struggling just to put food on the table, you're not going to be taken in by a con artist offering a lot of hot air? Did it ever enter 'independent' leaders' minds that workers know better than most that hot air never translates to their benefit? They hear the 'family' talk at work and then see the layoffs and the non-raises. So Bambi's 'inspirational' speeches don't reach them. It's a lot of fluttery words and they've heard that over and over as they punch in and out on time clocks. Maybe it's past time for 'independent' media to get its head out of the clouds (or out of its ass) and stop disrespecting the working class?

That's from "And the war drags on . . ." and C.I. makes the point now (and in the entry) to credit the community "which always is ahead of the curve." And they are. Which is why C.I.'s citing Heather on the treatment of women voters. Women voters, remember them? Another Democratic Party base. They've gone to Hillary as a group over and over. The response, lots of lectures and a lot of ignoring. The lectures came from crap-sites like BuzzFlash where, after Hillary won in New Hampshire, the froggy voiced editor felt the need to write a column admonishing the "little ladies." Apparently women aren't smart enough to pick their own candidate, they need lectures from old male farts. And goodness if the lectures didn't pop up all over the place.

Ignoring? While lectures popped up all over the place, did you see Robin Morgan's "Goodbye To All That (#2)" (Women's Media Center)? BuzzFlash offered no link (they only like women who insult Hillary -- see, if they can hide behind women using sexist language then they can pretend it's not sexism). Common Dreams didn't repost Morgan; however, they did offer the Uncle Tom of the lesbian set (Laura Flanders) responding to Morgan -- or responding as best as a half-wit* can. Common Dreams posted a response to Morgan but not Morgan's actual column? If that pattern seems familiar, you may remember when Jess pointed out here that Common Dreams refused to post Gloria Steinem's "Women Are Never Front-Runners" but were happy to post a 'rebuttal.'

Let's stay on Common Dreams for a second. From last Sunday through Saturday (a period that they couldn't be bothered with re-running Morgan's piece), we're counting 20 columns run on the Democratic race for the party's presidential nomination (we're ignoring the "news" reprints which all favor Bambi). Of that 20, 2 are for John Edwards who had left the race before last week had started. That leaves 18 articles. Four don't argue for candidate (Rosa Brooks, Derrick Z. Jackson, Matt Taibbi and Danny Schechter). That leaves 14 articles. One wants to pretend he's not arguing for a candidate and wants to say the peace movement needs to hold Hillary and Obama's feet to the fire but Tom Hayden's column is weakend by the fact that he endorsed Barack Obama before Super Tuesday. That leaves 13 articles. There are two major candidates -- Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton -- fighting for the nomination. There is also Mike Gravel who has stayed in the race while everyone else has dropped out (Edwards, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson and Dennis Kucinich). None of the articles were about Gravel. So, 13 articles, what's the split? Two candidates fighting it out for the Democratic nomination but all 13 articles are for Barack Obama.

Kind of the way Amy Goodman's offered non-stop testimonials on Barack Obama (Cornell West, Michael Eric Dyson, Grace Lee Boggs, etc.), those endless segments where the Bambi supporter yacks on and on solo without ever once offering that to a Hillary supporter. In fact, from 2007 through last Friday, only three Hillary supporters have appeared on the show: Gloria Steinem (see Ava and C.I.'s commentary) who was pitted against just-out-of-the-closet Bambi campaigner Melissa Harris-Lacewell; Dolores Huerta who was pitted against not one but two Bambi supporters; and Ellen Chester who was on with an Edwards supporter and an Obama supporter. It's not that Hillary doesn't have supporters, she has many. She has supporters, in fact, who've been guests on Goodman's show including Joe Wilson. When Wilson came out in support of Hillary at the end of December, you didn't hear about it at most sites or on Democracy Now!

Joe Conason, who is an actual journalist (unlike the majority claiming that title in 'independent' media) has been a guest on Democracy Now! just not these days. He's not endorsed anyone. But he has attempted to tell the truth and he explained the response to those attempts at the end of January, "A surprising number seem unable to tolerate so much as a skeptical word about Barack Obama". Of course they can't and it's because Conason doesn't work in a vaccum. When he attempts to show healthy journalistic skepticism about Obama, the Bambi groupies hit the roof. (He's expressed similar skepticism about Clinton and notes no similar response for that.) They do so because 'journalists' at The Nation and Democracy Now! don't express skepticism, don't practice journalism and slant all their coverage to Obama. Don't kid that it's otherwise. That is what has happened over and over since 'independent' media jumped on the presidential election cycle as soon as the mid-term elections were over (John Nichols was actually writing about the 2008 presidential contest days before the mid-term elections took place).

That's why the LGBT community was trashed by the Obama campaign's decision to put homophobes (plural) on stage in South Carolina and 'independent' media couldn't call it out, couldn't even note it. (The Progressive ran an article on it in their January issue. Democracy Now! has never mentioned it -- even when interviewing the co-author of the piece in January.) LBGT is a base of the Democratic Party.

It's why non-journalist Paul Rogat Loeb (and his little buddy the increasingly Looney Stephen Zunes) can write that Hillary voted for war with Iran and Obama was opposed to it. Well, the truth is, Obama didn't vote. If you're opposed to something, you vote against it. That is hard for Bambi to grasp apparently and, no doubt, he misses that option of voting 'present' which he utilized in Illinois whenever the going got tough. These days, he just skips out on votes -- repeatedly.

'Independent' media has truly gone insane. They have not probed Rezco or even covered it (Amy Goodman finally got it into one headline, a single sentence, recently). That would be Tony Rezco, Antoin Rezco, now under federal indictment. The same Rezco that Bambi did favors for. He did favors for Bambi as well. Bambi wanted a mansion. Bambi couldn't afford it. The mansion and it's tiny strip of land were split in two. It was very fortunate that Michelle Obama sat on the city committee that allowed that Chicago landmark to be split in two -- although some might not say 'fortunate,' some might say 'unethical.' It was very fortunate that the Rezco's bought -- on the same day -- the 'land' while Bambi could afford the house -- as long as a couple of hundred thousand was knocked off the sale -- though the Rezco's did pay full price. Bambi bought a sixth of the property to park his car on. Prior to that, the man he claims at various points to barely know (though he's returned over $100,000 worth of donations because they are connected to Rezco) was kind enough to let him park on the land. Well, with that tiny space, next to a sprawling mansion, it's not like you build anything on it anyway. The sixth of the land was bought 'at cost' The link goes to Larry Johnson who, for the record, was a guest on Democracy Now! . . . in the past. As a Hillary supporter, there's not much chance Johnson will be invited on anytime soon.

He's one of the many guests cut out by the program and it's really all of 'independent' media (defined as print and broadcast) that are pulling this crap over and over. David Brock was a member of the right-wing echo chamber in the 90s. We're not attempting to insult him or trash him. But we do wonder what he thinks of the left-wing echo chamber? Does he notice how fairness is being tossed aside? Does he notice the shift we're seeing? Does it frighten him?

If a network reporter stated it was "hard" for him to be impartial to Dick Cheney, wouldn't FAIR be issuing one of their action alerts?

January 13th, Ava and C.I. wrote the following:

As many laughs as Gibson provided, it was more shocking what was going on at NBC/MSNBC. Correspondent Lee Cowan confessed on air to Brian Williams that it was "hard" for him to be objective about Barack Obama, whom Cowan was assigned to cover. Now in the world of a functioning mainstream press, Cowan would have immediately been reassigned. And should have been. Reporters are supposed to be objective and just the hint that you aren't, forget confessing on air that you find it "hard," is enough to damage the credibility of the news organization.

We got a huge response on that from journalism professors agreeing with the sentiment and the bulk of them couldn't believe that they hadn't heard about this elsewhere. As a journalism professor in Ohio wrote, "Isn't this right up FAIR's alley?" Well, if the candidate favored was a Republican, maybe so.

We think 'independent' media has disgraced itself repeatedly this election cycle. We think they picked their favorite and tailored the coverage. We think they excluded voices that didn't support their candidate. Worst of all, we think they are out of touch with many who make up their audiences. Made up their audiences?

And no one's done more to lecture than The Nation. Prior to Bambi Mania, their lectures regarding the Democratic Party revolved around the need to support the base, the need for Democrats to be Democrats and not issue right-wing talking points. But the candidate they selected in 2007 and ran with ever since has not been supported by the base. Obama actually hasn't even had the overwhelming support of Democrats. If he couldn't count on his independent base, he wouldn't be in the race right now. So desperate to support Bambi is The Nation that they support a candidate who trails Clinton in Democratic support.

Remember that when, after this election cycle, they're pissing and moaning about the Democratic Party not standing up for its own, when they're decrying the latest shift to right, the latest refusal to stand up for core Democratic Party values.

Remember too that in 2000 they screamed "Count Every Vote!" but in 2008, they don't want Florida or Michigan's delegates seated. We don't like Bambi. But we argued in favor of both state's delegates prior to the primaries -- we argued in favor of their inclusion in 2007. (And, in 2007, Wally, Cedric and C.I. hit on that topic harder and more often at their sites than we did here.) Our argument isn't based on who won. Hillary won but we made our arguments long before the primaries were held. Thing is, if Obama had won, independent media would be making the argument to sit the delegates right now. The same way Katrina vanden Heuvel is screaming for Howard Dean to 'solve' the 'crisis' of the nominee before the Democratic National Convention. Katrina wants rules and guidelines tossed out and as she screams for that, she sounds an awful lot like the MSM commentators citing a non-existent 'crisis' when Al Gore wanted recounts. There were rules then and if no one could decide, the election would be tossed to Congress. But the Supreme Court stepped in (via a warning that said 'time's up'). That was wrong and we argue illegal. By the same token, Katrina's screaming is idiotic. Maybe if she knew a little more American history (not a little less Russian history, just a little more American history), she'd know this isn't a 'crisis' and that the rules on how to address outcomes were written (and agreed to) long ago? Maybe she'd know that a real battle on the convention floor would get media coverage?

Does she not grasp that 2004 saw the least party convention coverage by the MSM? Does she not grasp that news outlets said it was because the whole thing was a pre-planned pageant? A heated battle -- like the country's seen before -- on the convention floor might mean the MSM gives it prime time hours.

What's going to be really interesting is following 'independent' media if Hillary wins the nomination. Bambi won some caucuses yesterday and no one was surprised. The states aren't rich in electoral college votes (as is true with most of his wins). Look for the usual spinners to pen their "Bambi's is God" columns. But something happened last week that's of interest and telling.

Tom Hayden endorsed Bambi -- whom he'd praised non-stop even while Bambi was trashing the 60s and 70s and "Tom Hayden Democrats" specifically. Then came Super Duper Tuesday and Hayden quickly showed up -- apparently hoping that not many knew of his endorsement -- claiming that we needed to hold both Obama and Hillary's feet to the fire and make them fight for our votes. Was endorsing Bambi holding his feet to the fire?

No. But Tom Hayden knows a little about winning and a hell of a lot about losing. As possibly the most addicted to polling of any state legislator ever, he knows a great deal about shifting winds as well. He wasn't worried about the upcoming results from the weekend, he was worried about the 'big prizes' (including Texas where Hillary trounces Barack in the polling) and he grasped that Obama might not be such a sure thing. So suddenly he flip-flops on his endorsement of Bambi and beseeches the peace movement to hold both candidates' feet to the fire and make them compete for your vote.

Hillary could win the nomination. That's something that others in 'independent' media do not appear to have grasped yet. It will be very interesting to watch them line up if that happens, to watch them encourage everyone to vote Democratic in the general election, to insist that John McCain, Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul must be stopped. That will be very interesting -- and possibly worth re-subscribing to The Nation for, it'll be like The Onion version of The Nation.

But what we see right now is an 'independent' media that pushes and, yes, pimps Bambi and has done so non-stop. Several NPR stations are closely following Democracy Now! currently to determine whether or not it has a slant. One manager of a NPR station called C.I. too late for the Wednesday snapshot but wanted it noted that, in headlines, there was no 'equal time.' Hillary Clinton's speech on Tuesday was less than two minuts and Barack Obama's was over two minutes**. It's being tracked. 'Independent' media has hurt itself with the rush to push a candidate. They've proven they are not journalists. And it is effecting their audiences (and may end up effecting Democracy Now!'s reach). That's a lot to risk to pimp one candidate, especially one who wants to 'embrace' and 'reach out' to the right.


*Half-wit? Lupe Valdez, despite Flanders false claims in Blue Grit, did not campaign as an open lesbian. She was out before the election, she was out after. During the campaign, she avoided the fact that she was a lesbian. That is the reality and why most voters in Dallas County who voted for her were surprised (not necessarily offended) to learn after the election that she was a lesbian. Flanders, take a trip to Oak Cliff (we went there when we spent a week in a Texas) and speak to Latinos. Visit Pleasant Grove and do the same. Visit Oak Lawn (commonly called "Gay Town" -- all of these are areas of the city of Dallas) and ask people if they voted in that election. If they say yes, bring up that Valdez is a lesbian and watch their shock, years later. Maybe clippings don't pass for actual research? It was a nice little myth in Blue Grit, the open lesbian running as a lesbian for the sheriff of Dallas County, it just wasn't reality.

**We didn't track the headlines, C.I. says, "If ___ says, it was X for Barack and Y for Clinton, you better believe ____ was listening with a stop watch."

*** Originally this article addressed the elderly -- overwhelmingly for Hillary -- and Latinos. The Latino section was weak -- we all agreed. It was weak because Ava and C.I. refused to assist on that noting they were tackling that in some form in their TV commentary this week. So they excused themselves from that section. The two core groups overlapped in the article and in editing, we decided to pull both. While Latinos will most likely be addressed this edition -- via Ava and C.I. -- the elderly most likely will not. We will attempt to do so at some point in the future (which isn't a promise, just a 'we'll try') and would encourage to read Robin Morgan's article linked to earlier.

***Lyrics are from the Shangri-Las' "Give Him A Great Big Kiss" written by George Morton.

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