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?
DEAR BLAIR JACKSON,
An Occupy Your Mind column starting with a Bill O’Reilly quote? Progressive minds, not to mention precious column space, occupied by the rants of one of the extreme right’s most prominent henchmen?
What is this, an attempt at persuading O’Reilly or his followers that you are not a socialist? You gotta be kidding. O’Reilly and his ilk are not taking part in a debate of any kind, in which facts and arguments have any currency. They are engaged in propaganda. By quoting and discussing their straw man arguments and other lies and distortions, all you are doing is giving them legitimacy they don’t deserve. This column is another stark example of American liberals’ and progressives’ self-defeating tendency to allow the extreme right to frame the debate and dominate the public discourse.
The Occupy Wall Street movement has done the right thing: they have started framing the debate on their own terms — “We are the 99%!” — instead of allowing the 1 percent to push their agenda on the whole country. Polls show that they are in fact expressing ideas that vast majorities of Americans share: 66 percent of the public say that wealth is not fairly distributed, two-thirds consistently say that the rich are not paying their fair share in taxes, 70 percent say that Congressional Republicans favor the rich, 80 percent say that Wall Street and large corporations have too much political influence, and so on and so on. OWS have put the corporate elites, the 1 percent and their enablers on the defensive. Finally, the voices of two thirds of the people are starting to be heard — voices that have hitherto been drowned out in the mainstream media and left virtually without representation in Congress.
It seems that the Free Weekly hasn’t gotten the memo yet: Stop wasting your time responding to the same tired old right wing talking points! End the occupation of the public discourse space by Fox News and other corporate shills! Expel O’Reilly from your mind! Put out your own vision!
Arkansas Media Watch