Thursday, July 22, 2010

Keith Olbermann's Commentary on Shirley Sherrod

Keith Olbermann nailed it with this commentary. Definitely one of the best he has ever done.

As I mentioned in my earlier comments, this is not just an issue of race. Race, in my view, should not necessarily be the focus of discussion. We don't need another race dabate. To be honest, they just don't do much. We have had that debate half a dozen times (or more) since Obama announced his run for the Presidency. What the nation should really be focused on is the obscene level of power held by Republican right wing media. This is something that I have blogged/written about probably dozens of times and it is the focus of my sidebar commentary, written a couple of years ago. I tried to warn people about just how big of a threat right wing media is.

The right wing media is simply the communications department for the Republican political machine. They have a very specific political agenda. Telling the truth and presenting actual news is not part of their program. It is a behemoth that is so powerful that when they tell Democrats - especially the Obama Administration - to jump, the Obama Administration asks how high? In my warning about Conservative media, I explain what their aims are... and that the playbook is an open secret.

The national mainstream media seems to ignore this information imbalance. No one wants to look into why Republican right wing media is allowed to control so much of the national debate. No one wants to look deeper into how Faux news (Radio Rwanda) is allowed to set the tone... by creating a certain narrative, and why mainstream media accepts their narrative as a legitimate starting point for their own reporting. Basically they take the Fox News narrative and they run with it...often without verifying information. Keep in mind, Fox News is, for all practical purposes, a propaganda operation. Fox News is so far removed from legitimate journalism that it's like night and day. In other words, legitimate news organizations have little reason to trust Fox News the way that they have been. Fox hasn't done the kind of reporting that deserves such a high level of trust. So the way that other networks parrot Fox (and other right wing outlets) is just incomprehensible to me. Furthermore, it's equally troubling how other networks fall over themselves to provide a platform for Republican right wing propaganda pundits, many of whom have little to no credibility. To make matters worse, these pundits are often unchallenged when they appear on the more legitimate networks. So what we have today is a situation where mainstream media is complicit in the misinforming and dumbing down of Americans. They have been co-opted by Republicans and used for propaganda purposes. This leaves a social/political environment where it is very difficult for a robust countervailing view to grow and challenge Conservative opinion.

I have been sounding the alarm on this for a few years now. The dangers of Conservative media are real. We just had another domestic terrorist attack thwarted this week, this time in California... although it didn't make it as a top story on most networks (perhaps because this has become so common). But the suspect was another Terrorist & Tea Party nut angry about left-leaning politics. Read more here, here and here. He opened fire on police on a California freeway after realizing he was caught. Luckily this terrorist was stopped after a long shootout before he could carry out any mass killings. But can you guess what fueled him? (Check the links above).

What we are in the midst of right now is an ideological war for the hearts and minds of Americans. It's a fight for the soul of the Country. Within that war is an information/PR battle. While President Obama shut down his campaign and his communications/PR war room... the Republicans never did. Republicans never ended their campaign after 2008, they simply changed its focus. Instead of running on a platform (as if they ever had one) or asking for votes, they shifted the focus to discrediting Obama, delegitimizing his Presidency, framing him as un-American, as an outsider, as dangerous, weak on security, etc. Republican/right wing media is in an all out war against President Obama, on two fronts. One is an information/image war... the other focuses on Policy (political obstruction, so that he is seen as a failure).

The kind of misinformation campaigns being waged right now... are, in many respects, similar to the kind of nonsense the CIA was doing 30 years ago in Countries around the world to confuse/mislead local populations, by putting out media stories favorable to the U.S., etc. The corporate PR companies today use some of those same strategies. The only difference now is that the tactics are being used against American citizens.

Progressives are at a disadvantage, because they have no media infrastructure that can match what is coming out of Conservative media. The right is just too powerful when it comes to media dominance. It's just not a fair fight. And this is occurring at a time when we have a President who has become synonymous with the term 'PR disaster'. If the White House had a strong war room, had strong PR people, a President who was more engaged and in tune with what is happening on Main Street, someone controlling his image...who has his back, a team of brilliant advisors providing the best guidance & information, then the Democrats and this President would be in a better position to combat the right wing media. But none of these things exist in this White House in my opinion. There is no PR/media war room. If there is one.. they are incompetent...and those running it should be fired immediately. There are no strong PR people. If he has them, they should be fired tomorrow. If the President is engaged...and in tune with the Country, then I don't see it. I have been a serious observer of politics for 20 years...this is one of the worst Administrations in recent memory when it comes to basic situational awareness. How in the Hell do you go to Maine for vacation while the folks in the Gulf are still suffering and are struggling to keep their hotels and restaurants open, struggling to make their rent, struggling to save their livelihoods -and AFTER you encouraged Americans to go and spend money? Yeah.... we all need a vacation every now and then, but sometimes the Captain of the ship has to lead... especially on a ship that is taking on water. If you can't vacation in the Gulf, at least put off your vacation until things settle down....just out of respect for those who are suffering. If you must have a vacation... send the First Lady and the kids.... while you stay in Washington. This is about leadership folks. A walking PR disaster indeed.

If he has someone in charge of image... they should be fired forthwith. If President Obama has brilliant advisors... they have been giving the him terrible advice, at least on the image/PR front. We have had 747's flying over Manhattan for photo ops scaring the daylights out of New Yorkers (beyond comprehension in a post 9/11 World), the White House not responding to attacks from the right (even ridiculous lies), Van Jones & others being forced out, the President commenting on issues that he should not have commented least without knowing all the facts, the lack of a clear plan...and the huge absence of at least the image of the President attempting to create jobs & alleviate the problem of unemployment....instead he is out playing Golf, the bungling of the PR response to the Gulf oil spill, the bungling of Gitmo, using horrible strategy in the Healthcare debate, allowing the right to dictate his foreign policy, reaching out to Republicans...even working to water down legislation for them just to be fooled in the end with the knowledge that they were never going to sign on to his policies, and generally looking weak as a man and as a President. Now enter Shirley Sherrod. This is perhaps the most breathtaking of all of the PR debacles thus far. This is one for the history books. It will take me quite a while to wrap my brain around this. But it basically encapsulates, in one event, all of these PR weaknesses...and all the examples of incompetence.

This whole situation is a perfect example of why Progressives need to establish their own PR/media infrastructure. If they don't, they will continue to struggle with Conservative media for years. The right will continue to poison the airwaves and threaten livelihoods, and they will continue to win elections when they shouldn't.

But Progressives have been slow to respond. This week, for the first time, I heard at least two major Progressive commentators acknowledge what I stated years ago... that we are in the midst of an ideological war for the hearts and minds of Americans. There has finally been an acknowledgment that there is an ongoing, well orchestrated PR war against President Obama and Progressive politics. Maybe this incident was the wake-up call that Progressives needed. It took years just to get to a point where this could be acknowledged. Unfortunately I didn't hear many calls for the establishment of a robust Progressive media infrastructure to rival the Republican machine (not by telling lies...but simply by telling the truth...doing real journalism). And yes, I support bringing back the Fairness Doctrine.

The most effective antidote for the madness that we are seeing today in the U.S., is a well informed electorate. There are other things that I believe must be done as well as part of reaching that goal.... such as requiring a certain amount of civics education, global education, geography, World history, political science, constitutional studies, etc... in all schools, public and private. It should be Federal Law. But the end goal should be a well informed electorate. This is what new media could help to accomplish.

The sooner Americans wake up to what KO, I & others are saying on this... the better.


PeteKent said...

Such silliness. The author is perturbed about the power of the Right Wing media and all he can really cite is Fox News?

What does he want a monopoly on the news? No dissenting voices?

I bet you are an admirer of Hugo Chavez and Stalin would have liked you too!

Fox has the power it has because it is the only news organization that reports news that does not fit the mainstream media determined narrative of who Obama is. They tell a truth that must be told and have an audience large enough to force the rest of the media to cover things they otherwise find “inconvenient”.

If there were no Fox, we would be left to the peril of all the other "Journolists"!

Sorry you don't think Van Jones was a malign force or don't think its news when a high level administration official identifies with Mao. And I guess it’s not newsworthy when it becomes official DOJ policy not to prosecute black on white crime. And racist laughter at Sherrod’s NAACP speech is no big deal: Reparations, baby!

That stuff may not be news to you, but I did not think we elected THAT SORT of President. The "sort" having nothing to do with his melanin levels and everything to do with the concealment of his extreme left wing views and associations.

Again, you are so smart and know better than we do, and the people really can't be expected to process or manage such information, to UNDERSTAND why Obama would pal around with terrorists and find Jesus in the embrace of a Marxist, racist pastor. The PEOPLE lack the requisite sophistication to appreciate such FACTS.

Damn FOX NEWS for bringing them to their attention!

Too bad: The truth is willing out and the Left will be systematically routed from the government and the People RESTORED TO PRIMACY AND POWER.

petekent01 (on twitter)

Brian said...

Nope, not a big fan of Chavez and despise Stalin.

All I have cited is Faux News? Not true. Obviously you have not read through the archives, or viewed the information linked in the sidebar regarding right wing media. I have been blogging about this for 5 years.

You can go here and you can also find other postings where I mention other forms of media that the right has poisoned. At the above link (and in others) I actually cite data and facts.

The right dominates the airwaves, particularly when it comes to talk radio. It's not even close really. Right wing pundits are everywhere... they have flooded the media.

You are a perfect example of the kind of Right wing zombieism that is contributing to Americas decline...and that will accelerate that decline in the years to come. People like you only seek organizations like Faux News (a propaganda outfit) because it peddles information that reaffirms your prejudices.

Your arguments can't survive in an environment where there is an even playing field in terms of media/information.

Faux has the following that it has because people like yourself tend to congregate under the same rock. You can't make it on a level media playing field (your arguments just aren't supported by facts), so you seek out networks that will tell you what you want to hear - truth be damned. You can't deal with an environment of diverse, opposing views. It's just like websites such as "stormfront"... or certain fraternal organizations that don't want to include women. Those who are closed-minded, who hate the government, and have certain prejudices tend to congregate in the same echo-chambers where they feel safe - places where they don't have to deal with facts. Faux is like political Disney World for Tea Party wingnuts. It's like recess from the real world. Why wouldn't white America want to support that? Finally there is an advocate that supports the idea that Whites, The Christian right, White Southern values, the wealthy, and far right Conservatism are all under attack...and that something has to be done to take the Country back from the evil within (Progressives, Independents, non-whites, foreigners, naturalized citizens, and immigrants...especially non-white immigrants, legal or otherwise). I understand that you all want to re-establish what you see as "The real America".

MSNBC and other outlets have fewer ratings because they offer more balanced information....and therefore are not as provocative. Also...their viewers are from a wider and younger demographic...and the way that they get their news tends to be more diversified - internet/blogs, TV, magazines, word of mouth, public radio, social media, cell phone, etc. This means that the ratings figures for these other networks are misleading. Unfortunately younger people are not as engaged politically... there are more enjoyable ways for them to spend their time. Also, because of today's
technology... the wider variance in age of Progressives and Independents, and the slightly larger selection of mainstream outlets...the numbers are watered down. Faux and the talk radio listeners represent an older more concentrated audience. (young folks aren't listening to AM radio in any significant numbers). However... older folks represent the demographic that goes out to vote for Republican causes. When added all together, the right represents a very powerful network of radio hosts, pundits, writers, TV hosts, and strategists that are so strong that they are able to drive the national discussion and keep Progressives on their heels. Mainstream news outlets, time and time again... pick up stories (and talking points) from Conservative media...because it is a propaganda behemoth that is too large...and too loud for them to ignore.

Anonymous said...

PeteKent, Thank you!

Who leak the YouTubee clip? Think about it!

ch555x said...

@The Angry Independent
Good points!
I think it's that "we report, you decide" mentality that's running rampant on the MSM. Instead of stating the facts, you're getting parroted talking points and opinion based on ideology. The problem is that a lot of times, these talking points get debunked by the end of the show!

The codewords, slogans, and what not aren't fooling too many folks these days. The "we want our country back" folks are at their last grasp of relevancy in an ever-changing world. So-called empires don't last forever. If they want to go down with the ship, by all means let's just board the escape raft and bounce!

Mwalimu said...

Doth thou truly believe thy own madness Angry Independent? True, this is an ideological war, but do you know who the real enemies are? Do you really know what is at stake? If you start with the distinctives of Western civilization, that which separates us from much of the world, then you will know what the real issues are: human dignity, private property, limited government, religious freedom, rule of law, sanctity of life, freedom of thought and many other targets which our enemies have identified. For anyone to say that conservatives control the media has to be deluded at best, and deceptive at worst.
Conservatism is more closely aligned to the vision of our founding fathers than liberalism/progressivism could ever dream to be. If truth is a treat, then be very afraid. Conservatism supports freedom of speech, religion, and the right to arm bears (opps, I mean to bear arms). Conservatism seeks to slow down and even stop government control of every facet of society (if it smells like socialism, then socialism is hiding somewhere close by.)
If Foxy News is as sly as thou saith, being able to manipulate the vast left wing media so easily, then damn, the left wing media deserves to be manipulated. Why even exist, if they just follow Fox's lead? Someone just isn't thinking too clearly.
The reason progressives do not have any power in the media, as hard as the media tries to give them a loud voice, is they don't have much to say with substance (by the way, what station is Air America on now?). Poor progressives, with all of the opportunities to have an impact, they must resort to blaming conservatives for their condition. Here are a few tissues.

Roderick said...

Well AI you must be doing your job because someone is sending the lying wingnuts after you.

Anonymous said...

Nice, you complain about the dominance of right wing PR, and lament about "if only" the President had a strong PR machine like the right.

I'm curious, do you have evidence that Bart edited the tape he posted on

Just wondering, who peddles information that reaffirms your prejudices since progressives have no place to call home?

Roderick said...

I'm curious, do you have evidence that Bart edited the tape he posted on

Just wondering, who peddles information that reaffirms your prejudices since progressives have no place to call home?

Whether Brietbart edited the tape or not he is responsible for posting it on his website and disminating it as fact.

Let's say you let a friend bum a ride. Two weeks later you get pulled over for running a stop sign and the cop decides to search your car and finds drugs.

You tell the cop that the drugs must belong to the friend that you gave a ride two weeks before. Do you honestly think it matters since you were found in possession of the drugs?

Anonymous said...

Roderick, Roderick... the NAACP gave the tape to Breibart. Someone at the agency gave it to them. The question you should be asking, Why?
In all fairness, yes, Breibart was wrong to air an edited version of the tape without fully looking at the full version.

Brian said...

Pete Kent wrote:

"What does he want a monopoly on the news? No dissenting voices?"

No monopoly... and dissenting voices are fine. I just cannot deal with a systematic misinformation machine that is nothing more than the communications arm of a political party.

The rest of your rant was just irrational drivel.. which I will not bother responding to.

Brian said...


"Well AI you must be doing your job because someone is sending the lying wingnuts after you."

Yep...I know. Wish I could deal with them full-time, it would be fun.

Not a fair fight however. It's hard to debate with conspiracy theorists, birthers, etc... folks who aren't on the same frequency as the rest of us...and have bought into their own distorted sense of reality. But they are entertaining at least.