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The Tally Ho

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Kos and the Guardian

I logged on to the BBC and the Guardian this morning to check the news and much to my surprise I find the first weekly column by Markos Moulitsas. Markos, of course runs the Daily Kos - a site along with Jerome Armstrong's MyDD that introduced me to political blogs. This first piece is titled A Different Noise, and explains how the right wing noise machine came into being.
What is the Rightwing Noise Machine? Conservatives in the United States have spent the last 30 years building a vast infrastructure designed to create ideas, distribute them, and sell them to the American public. It spans multiple think tanks and a well-oiled message machine that has a stranglehold on American discourse. From the Weekly Standard, Rush Limbaugh, Wall Street Journal, Drudge Report and Murdoch's Fox News, to (more recently) the mindless drones in the rightwing blogosphere, the right enjoys the ability to control entire news cycles, holding them hostage for entire elections...

The year 2000 was a wake-up call to many partisans like myself. Surveying the landscape, we could sense the flexing of the Rightwing Noise Machine's muscles, even if we were ignorant of its ultimate size and reach. We had witnessed the goring of Gore, yet sat by, helplessly unable to fight back. We saw the Democratic party get outmanoeuvred in Florida, legally and rhetorically. We looked around for a "liberal media", yet found nothing of the sort.

Nothing that American Democrats or liberals are not aware of, but perhaps the international readers will get an idea of what has transpired. I don't have it infront of me, but a Noam Chomsky (regardless of what you think of Mr. Chomsky's work - it had points) article I read a year or two ago discussed who was putting out large volumes of material, and who paid for it. Back to Mr. Moulitas's column, he writes
Television coverage had become an extension of the Republican party, not just because of the influence of Fox News, but because conservatives had "worked the refs" so diligently that mainstream media outlets piled on their conservative "pundits" lest they be accused of "liberal bias".

I am sure I posted it here sometime, but a FAIR study found that 61% of experts on National Public Radio, which conservatives constantly criticize for being "liberal", had conservative leanings. Didn't Tucker Carlson just join PBS? From the FAIR Study
Despite the commonness of such claims, little evidence has ever been presented for a left bias at NPR, and FAIR’s latest study gives it no support. Looking at partisan sources—including government officials, party officials, campaign workers and consultants—Republicans outnumbered Democrats by more than 3 to 2 (61 percent to 38 percent). A majority of Republican sources when the GOP controls the White House and Congress may not be surprising, but Republicans held a similar though slightly smaller edge (57 percent to 42 percent) in 1993, when Clinton was president and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. And a lively race for the Democratic presidential nomination was beginning to heat up at the time of the 2003 study.
Partisans from outside the two major parties were almost nowhere to be seen, with the exception of four Libertarian Party representatives who appeared in a single story (Morning Edition, 6/26/03).

Republicans not only had a substantial partisan edge, individual Republicans were NPR’s most popular sources overall, taking the top seven spots in frequency of appearance. George Bush led all sources for the month with 36 appearances, followed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (8) and Sen. Pat Roberts (6). Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Secretary of State Colin Powell, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and Iraq proconsul Paul Bremer all tied with five appearances each.

Senators Edward Kennedy, Jay Rockefeller and Max Baucus were the most frequently heard Democrats, each appearing four times. No nongovernmental source appeared more than three times. With the exception of Secretary of State Powell, all of the top 10 most frequently appearing sources were white male government officials.

Despite this, the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) found that
The more commercial television news you watch, the more wrong you are likely to be about key elements of the Iraq War and its aftermath, according to a major new study released in Washington this week.

And the more you watch the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News channel, in particular, the more likely it is that your perceptions about the war are wrong, adds the report by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA).

Based on several nationwide surveys it conducted with California-based Knowledge Networks since June, as well as the results of other polls, PIPA found that 48 percent of the public believe US troops found evidence of close pre-war links between Iraq and the al-Qaeda terrorist group; 22 percent thought troops found weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq; and 25 percent believed that world public opinion favored Washington's going to war with Iraq. All three are misperceptions.

The report, "Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War," also found that the more misperceptions held by the respondent, the more likely it was that s/he both supported the war and depended on commercial television for news about it...

...For each of the three misperceptions, the study found enormous differences between the viewers of Fox, who held the most misperceptions, and NPR/PBS, who held the fewest by far. Eighty percent of Fox viewers were found to hold at least one misperception, compared to 23 percent of NPR/PBS consumers. All the other media fell in between.

Back to the article by Kos, he continues that
Liberal thinktanks sprung up to challenge their conservative counterparts. A new liberal talk radio network was launched. MoveOn.org, created to help Bill Clinton stave off impeachment, went from being a grassroots email list to a multimillion dollar media operation. Americans Coming Together will spend nearly $100m (£55m) to register and turn out Democratic voters this November. Berkeley linguist George Lakoff founded the Rockridge Institute and is making waves in Democratic circles by showing how Republicans have hijacked the language ("tax relief", "partial-birth abortion", "pro-life"), and how Democrats can take it back.

Anyway, I guess I went off on a rant, I will end here . Also read Salon’s How the Internet turned everyone into James Carville by Farhad Manjoo. Also check out the new This Modern World cartoon, Memogate!

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