The Echo Chamber as a Political Weapon
by Rob Kall
This started as a letter to Wes Boyd of Moveon.org because of moveon's new Fox tracking project, but this is really about all the progressive media.
Great idea, moveon.org starting an online Fox Watch Group to track Fox news' s media bias. But Fox is only one tentacle of the right-wing policy and position promotion monster. They use an echo chamber that consists of Fox, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck, local talk show hosts, the weekly standard, the right wing half of CNN 's Crossfire-- and a slew of neocon think tank pundits who regularly get their articles published in the mainstream print media.
The last few days, the right wing echo chamber has focused on
-Hollywood Liberal Bush haters (right wingers said the meeting in LA was titled Hate Bush, when that was a lie that was repeated by all the major talk personalities. The meeting title was actually quite inoccuous.)
-the death of a black man in Cincinatti after being beaten by police
-left-wing spin on Bush 's trip to Iraq
-Hillary 's trip to Afghanistan, during which she attacked the administration. The echo chamber questions
-Howard Dean's sealing of his records while he was governor. (Bush did the same thing when he was running for president.)
-confrontations regarding separation of church and state
-prudish reactions to movies and culture
A few weeks ago the "echo chamber" viciously attacked CBS 's docudrama on Ronald Reagan.
Then, there are the echo chamber perpetual themes --labels of liberals, attacks on the Clintons ... etc.
Then, there are the distraction tracks used to draw the focus away from news that people should be paying attention to -- Jacko 's pedophilia charges, conjoined twins surgical separations, kidnapped kids....
I suggest that in addition to the Fox Watch, a "Right-Wing- echo-chamber-Watch" be started. People could list, for each of the different talk shows, specific, current echo chamber themes. The themes that are covered on the most elements in the "echo chamber" would rise to the top, so the right 's attack issues and advocacy issues could be identified and strategies developed to counteract them quickly and robustly.
The other side of this is to organize and further build and make more effective use of think tanks that help create "instant responses" to right wing echo chamber spin "tornados." Then, those responses would be amplified, blasted, and echoed to the masses using the progressive equivalent to the right 's echo chamber.
Organizations that could be involved as potential elements of a progressive echo chamber. include, but are not limited to:
Moveon.org , workingforchange.com , CorpWatch.org, reclaimdemocracy.org , Emily's List, America Coming Together, ourfuture.org Center for American Progress, Democratic Underground, Indy Media, Bartcop.com, Antiwar.com, buzzflash.com, alternet.org , Commondreams.org, tompaine.com, Public CItizen, informationclearinghouse, FAIR, radioleft.com, IE America Radio, anshellmedia.com (maybe) , Pacifica Radio, Take Back The Media, The Smirking Chimp, democrats.com, democratic underground, www.opednews.com , The Nation Magazine, New Republic, New Yorker, The American Prospect, TalkLeft.com, CounterPunch, In These Times, Progressive Magazine, Progressive Populist, Z Magazine, Mother Jones,
Columnists like Studs
Turkel, and (links pulled from commondreams.org) Eric
Breslin, Noam Chomsky, Alexander
Conason, David Corn,
Dionne Jr, Marian
W Edelman, Mark Fiore,
Robert Fisk, James
K. Galbraith, Sean
Goodman, Granny D, Thom
Hartmann, Tom Hayden,
Jim Hightower, Arianna
W. Jensen, Naomi
Rogat Loeb, Rahul Mahajan, Linda
George Monbiot, Michael
Palast, Michael Parenti, William
Rivers Pitt, Ted Rall, Frank
Matthew Rothschild, Arundhati Roy, Danny Schechter, Robert Scheer, Jonathan Schell, Mark Shields, Holly Sklar, Harley Sorensen, Helen Thomas, Michael Tomasky, Tom Tomorrow, Pierre Tristam, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Mark Weisbrot, Heather Wokusch, Gary Younge, Antonia Zerbisias, Howard Zinn, Dave Zweifel
A challenge for any effort to build an effective progressive echo chamber is that progressives are not great team players (I'd guess there is a lower percentage of progressives who played in team sports.) Al Sharpton has said that organizing them is like "herding cats." But at least we could try. We could put together an email list that at least lets them know of the issues the right wing echo chamber is "working."
Of course, the power of an echo chamber is most effective, not in neutralizing the opposition's spin, but more important in getting out the spin, the ideas, the policies and positions that your own side wants to promote. Currently, we have no coordination, no teamwork. We have shared inspiration and so, some issues do get picked up, like electronic voting, favoritism with Haliburton, the occasional ecological outrage. But the right wing echo chamber is so, so much more powerful when it goes after a topic full tilt, all elements blasting away.
Today, OpEdnews.com is publishing an article by the attorney for Michael Edmondson, who was fired from his job, without recourse, because he silently attended a meeting to "save Elk City." The implications are frightening-- that an employer can fire you for any reason, for reading this article, or subscribing to a magazine... It would be wonderful if a progressive echo chamber could blast this outrageous story across the mediawaves, helping to put pressure on the appropriate parties and to raise money to pay for further legal appeals.
What else could a progressive echo chamber "blast" to all the media sources? We should have a long list, prioritized, just like any complex project has. I don't think there are any such lists, except in the hands of a handful of underfunded think tanks. When you look at the rich veins of policy and position that the super-wealthy neocon think tanks have arrayed, it seems daunting at first, but their powerful organization and depth of coverage of the issues should serve as a model and inspiration for progressives to emulate and surpass.
It would be great if some of the new financial supporters of the left and the effort to get rid of Bush would get behind a progressive echo chamber. It could be a good project for ourfuture.org, the Center for American Progress, or America Coming Together. Or it could be a good separate organization, or a part of another new Policy Promotion Think Tank. I've written a number of previous articles on that topic and have put together information resource pages on think tanks, on neocons (and the PNAC) and the need for a progressive counterpart to the neocon Policy and Position Promotion Think Tanks. Since I started writing about it last spring, some progress has been made. The tap has started to flow from wealthy progressives. Several new, policy promotion and media oriented think tanks ahve been formed, and most important, funded. But we still have a long way to go. The first step in making a new enterprise a reality is to think about it and talk about it and envision it. Well, now we've done that.....
Rob Kall firstname.lastname@example.org is editor of OpEdNews.com and founder organizer of the Futurehealth Winter Brain, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology Meeting. This article is copyright Rob Kall and originally published by opednews.com but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog or web media so long as this credit paragraph is attached.