This will require some full disclosure, but what the hell, if it helps, it’s worth it. Fact is, since finding that counting sheep made me allergic to wool, I began lulling myself to sleep these nights by creating an imaginary foundation which, of course, has very substantial resources. One arm of this organization is devoted to “social events” like drug abuse, local poverty, parenting and more. The other arm addresses public information, broadly defined. I have a director in mind for the social work, and a chairman for the foundation. My focus most recently is on the public information function. A major mission of this arm is to counter the pernicious effects of Trump’s constant onslaught of lies and “fake news” and Republicans’ failure to do what they were elected for, and to find ways to bring honest, accurate information about government and progressive policies to the nation’s voters. To head up this group I recruit Lawrence O’Donnell, a major force behind the landmark series “West Wing,” and currently doing yeoman work hidden away on MSNBC’s “Last Word” program, which airs at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
One of the ventures I have in mind for Lawrence is to direct the production and distribution of 15-minute videos hosted by him and others and sent to network (not cable) programmers for inclusion in their local news and information broadcasts. Clever, huh? So guess what.
I open up the July 24th issue of Bloomberg Businessweek and…viola! There it is! The whole concept. Only it’s being implemented as I lay there dreaming by none other than the stomach-turning Boris Epshteyn (that’s not a misspelling) and the Sinclair Broadcast Group, described by Bloomberg as “the Fox News of local TV!”
Sinclair currently sends brief videos to 65 local station newsrooms who are required to run them. With a capacity to expand to 173 stations, Sinclair is positioned to spread right-wing poison to Ma’s and Pa’s coast to coast, rural areas and cities alike. And what alternatives are there for these folks? Virtually none. Add to that the old reliable Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Drudge, David Levin, plus local crazies on local stations and the question that screams out is WHAT ARE PROGRESSIVES DOING TO COUNTER THIS ONSLAUGHT OF RIGHT WING PROPAGANDA? Virtually nothing!
Progressives have MSNBC on cable and little else of mass distribution. The relativity few Trump types who read The New York Times dismiss it as fake news and, sad to say, Trump has largely succeeded in labeling the “mainstream media” as liars and worse, at least as far as his base is concerned, whenever they encounter something that challenges their – or his – beliefs. Al Gore gave progressive broadcast a shot with Current TV, but had to abandon it to low ratings. Online sources are mostly preaching to the choir. Beyond that, I’m unaware of any serious attempts at straight or progressive news and information distribution. Distribution is key. Truthful information has to reach local communities and smaller cities and towns everywhere in order to have any meaningful effect, as the 2016 election so painfully proved.
How many amendments are there to the U.S. Constitution? 32? 25? 17? Not sure? Someone – I don’t know who – recently suggested that high school students be required to answer the 100 questions that are part of a citizenship application. It was called civics when I went to school, but it has somehow disappeared from school curriculum in recent years. It’s a good place to start, a way to build a better informed electorate, but we obviously need more. We need to help people distinguish a “voter database program” from the voter suppression effort currently being attempted by Trump via Kris Kobach and his fellow suppressors, so they will speak out against it. Or at least believe the press when they do.
Is there no one in the Democratic Party savvy enough to develop a progressive news source that will reach out to ordinary Americans and talk straight? On my desk is the latest mailing from the Democratic National Committee outlining various efforts the DNC is taking in door knocking, phone calls, and other methods for “grass roots” organizing for “Resistance”— complete with a stick-on wallet card headed RESIST. What does that mean beyond sending them a check? Why doesn’t an organization such as this think outside the box? Someone there should take a look at the recent 28-page document published by the Southern Poverty Law Center entitled “100 Days in Trump’s America.” It spells out, in real world terms, how the Trump administration got where it is, the mainstreaming of the radical right, profiles of key people, a 100-day timeline, and suggestions for participation.
Why not reach out to people everywhere, every income level, every education level, every zip code, and provide proven, factual information on the issues of the day? Frankly, I’ve listened to DNC Chair Tom Perez a number of times and all I hear are the same old “liberal” slogans that the recent election has shown are just another echo chamber. Trashing Trump, however justified, is not a program. Maybe Tom should ask if he can publish the SPLC’s document under DNC auspices. That would get checks…and maybe some action.
# # #