An exchange with Blair Jackson, editor of the Fayetteville-based Free Weekly, addresses the question of how to deal with right-wing propaganda. In one of a series of columns on the Occupy Wall Street movement (which now has a camp in Fayetteville), Blair ponders whether Bill O’Reilly might be right in dismissing OWS as a “socialist movement”. This sparked a response from Arkansas Media Watch charging that “by quoting and discussing [O’Reilly’s] straw man arguments and other lies and distortions, all you are doing is giving them legitimacy they don’t deserve.” Instead of allowing the extreme right to frame the debate and dominate the public discourse, we need to “end the occupation of the public discourse space by Fox News and other corporate shills” and “expel O’Reilly from your mind”.
Read Blair’s response here and the full text of AMW’s comment below the fold. What do readers think?
"They don't know why they are protesting"
This cartoon (cortesy of Think Progress) expresses well how the corporate media are trying to shape the narrative about the inconvenient Wall Street protesters. Regardless what one’s political opinion on the issues, nobody in their right mind can claim that the protesters don’t express specific grievances and propose specific policies how to address them unless they are intellectually dishonest (not to mention systematic liars like ADG’s Mike Masterson).
What is more, polls show very clearly that a majority of Americans agrees with some of OWS’s core messages:
- A recent New York Times/CBS poll found that 46% of the public think OWS reflects the views of most Americans. 34% disagreed and 18% had no opinion. Only 27% think the Tea Party reflects the views of most Americans.
- Two-thirds of the public said that wealth should be distributed more evenly in the country.
- Two-thirds object to tax cuts for corporations and a similar number prefer increasing income taxes on millionaires.
- 84 percent disapprove of Congress and 71 percent of the public say the Republican party does not have a clear plan for creating jobs.
- Seven in 10 Americans think the policies of Congressional Republicans favor the rich.
- In a more recent CBS poll 35 percent had a favorable impression of the OWS protest movement. Only 16 percent could say the same for Wall Street and large corporations. 29 percent had a favorable impression of the Tea Party movement, and 21 percent of government in Washington.
- In terms of unpopularity, Wall Street/large corporations tied with Washington government, with 71 percent of those polled saying they had an unfavorable impression of them. The Tea Party movement got a 50 percent unfavorable response, and Occupy Wall Street protesters 40 percent.
- 74 percent of those surveyed believe Americans who are not wealthy have too little influence on politics, while also saying Wall Street and large corporations (80 percent) and PACs (74 percent) have too much influence. Responses over the political influence of labor unions was divided – 39 percent said they have too much, 22 percent said they have too little, and 38 percent said they have about the right amount.
It seems that the corporate media, with their generally anti-union, pro-Wall Street, pro-corporate bias, are fighting an uphill battle on behalf of the 1%. Expect more of the nasty bad-smelling variety from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
UPDATE: Another excellent take on corporate media deafness by Tom Tomorrow:
"But what do they want?"
Last week, Fort Smith was hit hard by the news that Whirlpool was closing its refrigerator factory, putting 1,000 employees out of work. An analysis in Columbia Journalism Review‘s Audit on the Business Press criticizes the local newspaper’s coverage of the news (via Arkansas Times):
So how does the local paper, the Southwest Times Record, cover the exit of one of its largest employers? With stories that read like they were written by Whirlpool’s PR department. (…)
The Times Record gives Whirlpool’s top flack the second, third, fourth, and fifth paragraphs, and then gives seven of the remaining eight paragraphs to rewriting the press release. Not one worker is quoted in the story.
“Flack-driven” coverage, as CJR’s Ryan Chittum puts it, is a common occurrence in business reporting. The analysis is well worth reading.