Blaming the media (was: Harry Browne)

From: Dan Fabulich (
Date: Mon Apr 17 2000 - 19:48:18 MDT

'What is your name?' 'Technotranscendence.' 'Do you deny having written
the following?':

> I've worked in libertarian political campaigns and causes before. I know
> the usual complaints. I don't disagree that the Media in general is
> anti-Libertarian and typically pro-Establishment, BUT there are always a few
> in the Media that are willing to listen and cover. When I was more active
> in politics, we -- the people I was active with --tended to get coverage.
> Of course, we focused on local issues and events so that we could be big
> fish in a small pond. Yeah, we didn't always get exactly the coverage we
> wanted, but we got enough to balance the good with the bad.

On this point, I always find it suspicious when somebody blames the media
for their troubles. Ask any "liberal Democrat" if the media gives them a
fair shake, and they'll tell you all about how the media is in the pocket
of corporate interests (and so, by the way, is anyone fiscally
conservative). Ask any "conservative Republican" if the media gives them
a fair shake, and they'll tell you all about the press's authoritarian
leftist leanings, how they distort the truth to propagandize liberal
views, etc.

This tells me that the journalists, by and large, are doing their job
correctly. ;)

More to the point, journalists aren't failing to cover Libertarians on
account of ideological refusal to do so, or because it's artificially
"pro-Establishment." Journalists are responding to ratings and money
(which, by and large, comes from ratings). Like any business, they've
spent a long time experimenting and trying to figure out what sort of news
people care about and find interesting, and what sort of news people
couldn't care less about. (Like the LP, for example.)

It's easy to see how media shapes the world around us, but it's often much
harder to see how the world influences the media, since most of THAT work
is done behind closed doors. Nobody sees the media reshaping its
strategies based on the latest demographic reports. But we know they do.
That's why these are successful businesses. If the media is
"pro-Establishment," then that's because the people are pro-establishment;
or, at least, they are as far as the demographers can tell.

In fact, what people who whine about the media REALLY want is a media
conspiracy of their own. They wish that the media would stop reporting
the way they do now and start reporting with an ideological bent, only
THEIR ideological bent, and to try to use the media to change the people,
to propagandize, rather than simply letting the media flow with popular
opinion, as, by and large, they do now in modern capitalist democracies
like the US.

This claim is stronger than the first, but I'd like to knock down a few
objections before I close:

1) I'm not asking them to report with an ideological bent. I'm asking
them to be fair to my group.

Why should they? If no one cares what you have to say, why should the
media report on it?

2) I'm not asking them to report with an ideological bent. I'm asking
them to report the truth, of which I and my group happen to be aware, and
of which my opponents are ignorant.

This is a rhetorical and ideological claim. Just because you're right
doesn't imply that reporting as if you're right isn't propaganda.

3) So what if I'm asking them to propagandize for my group? Reporting with
an ideological bent is the right thing for them to do in this case.

Because in modern society we've gotten a lot of mileage out of the idea
that journalism ought to report only from the most widely agreed upon
principles, so that on questions with less solidarity like politics,
morality, religion, art, etc. the people can make up their own minds.
That's a good thing.

4) Isn't it impossible for the media to FAIL to propagandize for some view
or another? Isn't reporting only from the most widely agreed upon
principles just propagandizing the status quo?

If propaganda is necessary, as you describe, then by the argument that
people should remain free to make up their own minds as much as possible,
the media should stick to reporting only from the principles most widely
agreed upon, since this offers the most room for free political thought.
Luckily, their current habit is to do just that. (Though, sadly, not
everywhere, and not all the time.)

Alternately, if it is impossible to avoid propaganda, then from whose
principles would you have them propagandize? Speaking personally, I'd
rather they stick to coherentism than propagandize the views of a vocal
minority, even if it's my minority.


Those who have called for the Libertarian party to take shots at local elections rather than aiming for the White House or even the Governer's office are absolutely right. The Libertarian party will never REALLY take hold unless it can get a significant percentage of local governments and seats in the House.


-unless you love someone- -nothing else makes any sense- e.e. cummings

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