Attaturk asks

So tell us, this day of all days, those things you are not thankful for.”

I’ve never seen what the problem is with cursing the darkness, so this is right down my alley. Fuck you, darkness!

He goes on to say

I’m not very thankful that several major news organizations are run by a gaggle of wankers, who will lie, smear, and deceive many people, including some of the ones I’ll be stuck with today”.

This cues one of my stock sermons: the word “wankers” is not strong enough and misses an important point. People like Dowd and Stephanopolous and Mika and Matthews and Cokie are just doing their jobs. They were hired to wank.  Ashleigh Banfield, for example, was completely mainstream and had all the skills of a TV journalist, but she was a Canadian unfamiliar with American wank culture, and because of a single commonsensical true statement  that she made on the air about Fox News, her career came to a screeching halt. This example could be multiplied indefinitely; even Dan Rather was not wanky enough for American TV, and that’s saying something.

By contrast, Hannity, Dobb, Limbaugh, Beck, and O’Reilly are not wankers.  They’re deliberate malefactors. They are actively malevolent and have devoted themselves to the dissemination of disinformation and viciousness.

I’ve been saying this all along and have convinced nobody, but the problem is at the upper levels and seems unlikely to go away. Everybody agrees that Murdoch, Scaife, and Rev. Moon are evil forces, but none of the other owners are significantly better. The network and cable bosses get less flak than Murdoch et. al. because they’re faceless, but they are also actively sabotaging American democracy.  And Graham at the Post and Sulzburger at the Times have also bought into the center-right agenda: they want low taxes (especially inheritance taxes), a permanent state of war, and the weakening or dismantling of the welfare state, and in the end they will be happy to get these with the help of an authoritarian, anti-popular government.

These are the real issues of our time; many feel otherwise, but many are wrong.

Bill Moyer and three people at MSNBC are almost the only strong liberals in the major broadcast media, if you call PBS major, but Moyers is only on once a week. The Times and Post have a few good people, but most of their supposed liberals, except for Krugman, are feeble. Krugman writes strongly, but he’s not left; he belongs to the right, NAFTA wing of the Democratic Party.

The center-right / right domination of the big media isn’t absolute, but it’s overwhelming. Krugman and Olbermann were probably hiring mistakes (Olberman is an ex-sportswriter, and Krugman was a NAFTA cheerleader and Nader-hater) and Moyer is an eminent relic of better days who they’d really like to squeeze out. Before 2003 when Olbermann came on there was literally nothing to watch on major TV or cable, and Olbermann himself is only very mildly center left. The leftmost 20-30% or so of the political spectrum is still pretty much unrepresented (maybe Ed Schultz counts), whereas the rightmost 20% gets at least its share of air time.

The ambient politics of America — the politics you pick up if you’re not paying attention — is far right. Without rightwing media saturation the Bush-Rove-Gingrich-Delay team could never have controlled American politics the way they did 1994-2006.

What to do? A lot of progressive media criticism reminds me of Russian peasants trying to get past the Czar’s evil ministers. “If only our little father czar knew of our troubles, then he could help us”. It doesn’t work that way. Under present management, things will never improve much. At the moment, the media seem to be favoring Obama over Palin, though just barely. But that’s a tiny victory, and it only happened because Obama has proven to be their kind of guy, and not ours.

To my knowledge no radical, dissident, or reform movement has ever had any success while relying on the already-existing media. The blogosphere has been a beginning, but my guess is that it doesn’t reach more than 20% of the electorate.  As long as the majority of people get their news from the present radio, TV, and cable sources (and the major newspapers we have today), we will continue to lose.

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