Monday, May 09, 2016

And Bernie's not gonna take it anymore!

Somewhere in the Great Beyond, Paddy Chayefsky cleared his throat meaningfully.

“The American people are sick and tired of establishment politics and economics, and by the way, a little bit tired of corporate media as well,” Sanders told Maddow in an interview taped in Burlington, Vermont.

Maddow pressed Sanders for specifics on how he would change the media if he were president.

“What’s the solution to corporate media?” she asked.

“We have got to think of ways the Democratic party, for a start, starts funding the equivalent of Fox television,” Sanders answered.

Of course, MSNBC is a corporate media outlet that is widely seen as a Democratic version of Fox News because of the perceived sympathies of many of its political talk shows.

Sanders went on to argue that “pressure has got to be put on media” to cover policy issues like income inequality and poverty more heavily, instead of devoting attention to sensational campaign moments and the state of political horse races.

He then claimed that bringing that pressure to bear would be difficult, since corporate ownership makes it harder for news outlets to cover issues in a way that conflicts with the interests of top executives.

“MSNBC is owned by who?” Sanders asked.

“Comcast, our overlords,” Maddow responded with a chuckle.

“All right, Comcast is not one of the most popular corporations in America, right?” Sanders said.

“And I think the American people are going to have to say to NBC and ABC and CBS and CNN, ‘You know what, forget the political gossip. Politics is not a soap opera. Talk about the real damn issues facing this country.’”

I really have seen this movie.

Howard Beale ended up fronting a "reality show" before we had reality shows (damn but Chayefsky was prescient!).  And he was about as effective as Jerry Springer or Morton Downey, Jr.  And if you don't remember both of those names, my point stands as taken.  You can't lead the American horse to water, and you cannot make it think; at least not thoughts it is unwilling to think.  To imagine that CNN and NBC and all the others media outlets are somehow denying the American public the meaningful public discourse they want to have is to talk like an adolescent on the internet.  It's sheerest moonshine.  Consider Pacifica Radio, which fulfills every dream of discussing serious issues that Bernie Sanders could wish for.  Amy Goodman is barely identifiable as a public figure (she deserves more recognition), and most of Pacifica programming, after the one attempt at a takeover years ago now, has returned to music, and away from any meaningful content.   And still Pacifica struggles to stay on the air. Whither Air America?  Victim of a nefarious corporate conspiracy?  A delicate flower choked out by the weeds of Clear Channel (who is now failing badly)? Or just not able to attract that many listeners?

You can talk all you want about "the real damn issues facing this country."  What you can't do is make anybody listen.

I don't think Bernie has figured that out yet; which, at age 74, makes him a very sad figure, indeed.


  1. Oh, oh. Don't get me started. I think that in Bernie Sanders' candidacy we see someone who was a very respectable Senator who figured on starting up a symbolic run for the presidency but, when questioned, turns out to really not be prepared to take the office.

    And, as I said, don't get me started on what's wrong with the electronic media and why all of those great sounding 18th century slogans are dead letters because they addressed a printing press and quill pen media when that has been superceded by massive corporate media and the internet. And by that potentially most democracy destroying of all media, entertainment. When Trump has a chance of taking the same office Ronald Reagan did, it's clear that potential is very high and very dangerous. I doubt that Sanders would remain popular with his following if he really addressed what will have to change in order to protect American democracy. As I pointed out recently, Mussolini was a journalist before he became the fascist strong-man of Italy, Berlusconi was a media titan. I don't think those are mere coincidences. Look at the other TV and radio stars who have been elected on anything but their qualification for office.

  2. I'm not sure Sanders is ready to leave home. The pressures of the campaign are turning him into a caricature.

  3. “And I think the American people are going to have to say to NBC and ABC and CBS and CNN, ‘You know what, forget the political gossip. Politics is not a soap opera. Talk about the real damn issues facing this country.’”

    Bernie said it; the American people will do it; and the media will line up to do the people's bidding. See? Easy peasy. Don't get me started, either. Someone, anyone, pull Bernie back down to earth and guide him back to his seat in the Senate.

    1. The president has magical Green Lantern powers that only Bernie knows how to use.

  4. That comment about magical Green Lantern powers? I just did the perusal of the lefty magazines online that I do once or twice a week, they really believe that. Just like they did about Nader. And the funniest thing is they all proclaim that they never, ever engage in that magical thinking that they accuse other people of doing all the time.

  5. There's a reason Bernie's most ardent supporters sound just like Trump's most ardent supporters.

  6. Almost worse than the Green Lantern view of the world, is the absolute certainty in the correctness of their belief. If only the main stream media wasn't standing in the way, we would see the truth. The Truth! If only the scales would fall from our eyes, if we could break out of our delusion, we would of course believe exactly as they do, we would see The Truth! Again, back to the point about a lack of self examination, self awareness, humility. No one in good conscience, or with clear thought could disagree, it's instead an indicator of your delusion, misinformation from the media and so on. All votes where Bernie loses are somehow corrupt, because of course everyone would vote for Bernie when they see the truth.

    I have come around to hold that while there are some people that are truly badly informed, most people have a pretty good sense of what they believe and want. To hold otherwise is to deny them agency. If you want to move them, then you are going to have to engage in the hard and slow work of talking to them, convincing them of a different view. That will require treating them with respect, and taking into account their belief systems, priorities, concerns, etc. Along the way you may even change yourself, and will likely have to give up something in order to get something else. In other words compromise. I thought the presidents recent commencement speech at Howard University very eloquently made this point.

    In the meantime, I am waiting for non-believers to be called sheeple.