Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Media accountability

By Frank Moraes

Yesterday, I wrote about Liz Cheney's insane rant against Obama and Obamacare. The insightful health care policy observer Aaron Carroll wrote about the Reagan quote she used that freedom was over because of the evil which Cheney dare not speak its name. That evil, of course, is Medicare. Cheney conveniently left out that context for the quote because it only would have highlighted how wrong Reagan was and Cheney is with their hysterical domino theorizing.

Carroll puts it all into context:

Yes, Medicare was the death of freedom in 1961. It was tyranny. It was the end of America.

Last I checked, Medicare passed, and America is still here. Now it's Obamacare that will kill freedom, enact tyranny, and end America.

At what point do people who use such hyperbolic rhetoric stop and recognize that their dire warnings never come to pass? One would imagine that people who repeated Reagan's talking points back in 1961 might find it a bit humbling to see how wrong they were. You'd think they'd shy from repeating those arguments again.

But, no. They get op-ed space in the WSJ.

This, I think, is the real problem. No one ever loses anything because they are shown to be shockingly ignorant. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, no one wants to be around others who make them look bad. So someone like John McLaughlin is not going to fill his panel show with people who were right about the Iraq War or the housing bubble. The mainstream media will continue to be wrong about major policy issues because they don't want to admit being wrong in the past. Another reason is just that the people on the TV machine and in major newspapers are not there because they are right or smart; they are there because they are friends with with the people who run the TV stations and newspapers.

It frustrates me that such people are allowed to say things that are so obviously wrong -- even at the time they say it. But this explains why, say, the Congressional Progressive Caucus's (CPC) budget gets almost no coverage while Paul Ryan's fictional budgets get blanket coverage: no one who would be interested in a progressive budget is employed in the mainstream media. It isn't that they have it out for such ideas; it is just that those kinds of people are not serious, even if they have quite a good record of being, you know, right. Thus: why employ such people?

And so Liz Cheney continues to write op-eds and Reagan continues to be treated as though he had ever been a great thinker. There is no solution to be found within the mainstream media itself. Instead, we must look to sources of information that provide voices to a larger selection of thinkers. Despite what conservatives claim, it isn't necessary on the right. Unless the person is explicitly racist, you will see their ideas presented and even pushed in the mainstream media. For example, the guys who brought us the idiotic Freedom Map occupied an entire feature on "liberal" MSNBC's prime time coverage. This is about equal to all of the coverage of the CPC's budget.

If you stick with the mainstream media (much less the conservative media), all you will get is an endless parade of lies and incompetence with never a whisper of accountability.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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