Did the Right Wing Use Reagan's Death to Increase Their Control of the Media?
by Rob Kall
A college buddy who voted for Bush called me yesterday to say how disgusted he was with the way the media had covered Reagan's death. Covered is not quite the right word though-- blanketed is more like it.
My friend was sick and tired of the excess, the immersive nature of the coverage, of the lauding of Reagan. And he doesn't get close to how disgusted I was with it. I see the media-- particularly CNN, Fox, MSNBC and to a lesser extent, but still extreme, the networks' coverage, as a frightening step further in the right wing's control of the media.evn at t funeral had ended, the coverage kept going and going and going. When will it end? Or has it already ended-- the idea of a responsible media that covers the NEWS, that covers it from all perspectives, that informs the public about the big picture. I click to MSNBC and they are showing old footage of Reagan. Of course you could raise the question of whether these media are selling out to the right-wingers or just getting cheap, using canned, old footage they have on hand, rather than spending the bigger bucks it costs to get real, fresh news.
We lost a week of coverage of the torture of Abu Ghraib, the corruption that led to the Plame CIA outing, the further drop in the Polls for Bush, the fact that most of the jobs being created under his presidency are very low wage. Was this something the mainstream media allowed to happen intentionally? It was surely something the Republican party and the string pullers for puppet Bush appreciated.
During this week+ of blanket coverage of Reagan, the Bushies tried their darndest to make hay out of manure. Bush tried to compare his presidency with Roosevelt at the 50 year commemoration of D-Day. He tried to compare himself to Reagan, how Reagan took on Communism. But no-one seems to have bought it. That's the good news.
The bad news is that the networks and all the news channels dropped all the masks of bi-partisanship and just covered the hell out of Reagan, totally ignoring their responsibility to cover real news. The most outrageous aspect of this travesty was the handing over to the republican party of hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars worth of coverage aimed at resurrecting, solidifying, and indelibly marking the image and archetype of Reagan as hero on the American psyche.
For one solid week, the media forgot about any attempt at being balanced, even lopsidedly balanced. They went full blast in lauding, applauding, cheering, deifying an extreme right-wing republican-- the man generally credited with launching the extreme right wing political plague that has gripped our nation. These media failed to exercise any efforts to protray Reagan in a non-biased way. They ignored his criminal activities, his failed tax policies, his lies. They let George Bush make outrageous claims comparing himself to "the Gipper." Fortunately, Reagan's family refused to allow Bush to get away with it-- to no credit for the mainstream media.
The progressive media did a decent job telling a balanced story, including discussion of the Reagan legacy regarding taxes, San Salvador, and flip-flops. But those aspects of the Reagan story did not make it into the mainstream media. Those media put on a lala-land whitewash, droolingly describing the wondrousness of Reagan.
Will the media get back on track? Will they go back to investigating the tortures, the Halliburton deals, the Plame outing? Or will they continue using old, recycled footage, doing puff pieces about Michael Jackson, lost teens, Scott Peterson, Siamese twin separations, the tenth anniversary of the OJ trial and other inane, high calorie, low content news? Time will tell. One thing is certain. There is an huge opening in the market for real news aimed at people to the left of center. We need some courageous investors to do with TV what Air America Radio and independent radio shows like Thom Hartmann, Pacifica, Radiopower.org, Ed Schultz and others are doing in radio.
Meanwhile, we'll soon see if this week of blanket right-wing propaganda, disguised as eulogy and jingoistic patriotism will have lasting effects on how the mainstream media operate. Will they now operate even more openly as agents of the right, as propaganda organs for the Cheney/Bush/Ashcroft/DeLay fascist government? Even a move of a percentage point or two further to the right on the scale of partisan coverage will make a huge difference for the November elections and the stupidification of the majority of the public who depend upon and trust these media for their news. Ah, trust. That's a word that is taking on new meaning nowadays, as the world learns what liars are running the country. But that's the subject of my next article Truth Bush-Style, when "IS" isn't; The Death of Trust in the US Government
Rob Kall firstname.lastname@example.org is publisher of progressive news and opinion website www.opednews.com and organizer of cutting edge meetings that bring together world leaders, such as the Winter Brain Meeting and the StoryCon Summit Meeting on the Art, Science and Application of Story 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. Over 100 other articles by Rob Kall