Anarchy, noise and demonstrations can change the dialogue. In Egypt, it improbably overthrew a dictator. In the USA it changed the dialogue from debt, deficits and austerity to greed and patent, systemic unfairness.
To change a system though one must organise and work from within it. This is a lesson to learn from the experiences of the Arab Spring. While leadership may not be needed, one must work within systems to change it. This is what pro-democracy demonstrators learned the hard way (losing seats) in Egypt’s Parliamentary elections and what Occupy must still learn trying to bring fundamental change.
Even progressive media only wins if more of our members are recognised and brought to the so-called grown-up table to bring change from within. The pressure on us to get it right the first time is more than in the current MSM. That means understanding that coherence matters for us even more.
Because 5 entities control the MSM and will not allow their news divisions to do the heavy lifting Woodward and Bernstein did breaking the 1972 Watergate story open, this is where independent media must keep fighting… and we cannot make the news, just report it.
While it seems unfair with so many news outlets from Drudge to Malkin and Breitbart to Coulter spreading lies and disinformation, we don’t get that luxury. All we have is our integrity and our credibility so we hold each other to a higher standard and that must continue. There are no shortcuts for media, Occupy or Egypt to change massively broken systems.
While today no one would expect a 2nd rate break-in would bring down a President, no one thought Mubarak would ever be removed either. We need 2012 Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s of today like Matt Taibbi and others to willingly tackle Wall Street and Corporate America when so many others are muzzled.
We need to change the pattern of baying at GOP debates and Sunday news talk shows. There is no premium placed on hard work when millions of dollars can be spent to destroy reputations with the pabulum sound bites they try to get us all to swallow.
Politicians feign indignation and attack the ‘librul’ media to the delight of their party’s base but the balance has long been gone. Yesterday the five main shows on CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC & FOX focused on the 2012 election. GOP politicians and pundits on those shows outnumbered Democrats 16 to 3 (Add Ryan and Gingrich on FOX to @Gottlaff’s original number) and it remains open season on this sitting President as millions in attack adverts will be allowed at will, with zero focus on truth and little room for rebuttal.
In the previous year, general GOP/Tea Party wingnuttery drew more ratings and they were allowed to outnumber Democrat appearances on these shows 2:1. John McCain, the irrelevant loser of 2008 somehow managed to appear 53 times on NBC’s Meet the Press alone during his Senate career and honest debate canno occur in such a clubby environment when memes can be created, advanced and repeated until most assume they are true without real challenge from those whose job it is to challenge and question them.
There once was a real effort at equal time. Commentators asked questions and reported the news vs trying to cleverly trade off of personality and make news. Politicians (because of great writing and excellent question construction) were once forced to answer questions (not filibuster and say what they want to say). Journalists worked from studiously created notes and position papers quickly, firmly and respectfully stopping them and pinning them down when they wriggled off to Crazytown. Now the questioners are the mayor and chief enablers.
When, in any election cycle, will we see members of the mainstream media exhibit the courage to ask tough questions and demand answers? When will their corporate masters release real newshounds to dig and uncover, probe and pry until a whole story is revealed? When will investigative journalism be rewarded vs. hair colouring and blow drying? And when will we see consequences for blatantly lying in the media?
We’ve watched ongoing theatre in the UK daily for weeks as the Levenson Inquiry on phone hacking and the media has peeled away the layers of onion surrounding Britain’s tabloid culture of sleazily doing anything to create a story. This culture allows politicians to create alternative universes based on a foundation of lies repeated often enough that they become true to the lemmings they repeat it to for the 15th time.
But could the curtain here be falling on that culture when the Levenson Inquiry wraps? While many outlets reported arrests this weekend of several journalists inside the Murdoch family of papers, few have looked at the potential real impact across the oceans of those arrests. If any one of those high profile arrests results in a conviction, could the entire Murdoch Empire be threatened? It should be.
We wrote here about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or FCPA before the inquiry started. As this continues to unfold, this could place many if not all of Murdoch’s media holdings at risk because a conviction in London releases the hounds of the SEC and FCC on FOX licence holders in the US and in other nations.
And that would be a real story and a far more perfect storm than a whipped cream pie thrown from the gallery.
Denis G Campbell is the author of 6 books including 'Billionaire Boys Election Freak Show,' 'The Vagina Wars' & 'Egypt Unsh@ckled.' He is the editor of UK Progressive Magazine and provides commentary to the BBC, itv Al Jazeera English, CNN, MSNBC and others. His weekly 'World View with Denis Campbell' segment can be heard every Thursday on the globally syndicated The David Pakman Show. You can follow him on Twitter via @UKProgressive and on Facebook.
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