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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 1/12/21

Right-Wing Media is a Danger to Democracy. Ban it Now!

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The sack of America's Capitol has put a whole new spin on so-called "news" outlets like Fox. I put the word news in quotations here because, far from dealing with anything that resembles legitimate journalism, organizations like Fox, Breitbart, and Newsmax poison our society with lies, propaganda, and conspiracy theories that rot the very foundations of our democracy.

In the wake of Donald Trump's nefarious coup attempt on 1/6/21, a day that will live in infamy just as surely as 9/11 and December 7, 1941, such media must be called out for what they are: treasonous. Their existence is a clear and present danger to the survival of our fragile democratic experiment.

But what about free speech? As any high school student should know, free speech obviously has its limits. Just like you can't scream "fire" in a crowded movie theater, it shouldn't be legal to create a civic fire by polluting the media ecosystem with lies and conspiracy theories. This becomes the gasoline that a political arsonist like Trump can use to burn down our entire democratic system.

The insurrection we witnessed in D.C. last week, the thuggish invasion of our beloved temple of democracy may, if we're not careful, be the opening salvo of a new Civil War. On a more hopeful note, it could also mark the end of a dark chapter in our country's history. The moment we woke up, came to our senses, and pulled back from the abyss of tyranny: just in time.

The choices our political leaders make now will determine which path we choose.

One idea would be to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. A quaint artifact of the progressive midcentury FDR and Truman era, the Fairness Doctrine (enacted in 1949) required broadcasters to "present controversial issues of public importance, and do so in a manner that's honest, equitable, and balanced." Pay strong attention to that little word, honest, in this sentence! A recent analysis by the nonprofit group Pundifact reveals that as much as 60% of Fox News' content is lies; or, as Kellyanne Conway puts it, "alternative facts."

Now, does anyone remember who repealed the Fairness Doctrine? It was Ronald Reagan... another one who wanted to "make America great" (warning: when you hear a politician use the word "great," expect lies designed to enrich the financial interests of the 1%). Reagan axed the Fairness Doctrine in 1987. One year later, Rush Limbaugh--right-wing media's founding father Prince of Darkness--got his first radio show.

And it's pretty much been downhill from there. I recall a peculiar incident in the early '90s when my grandfather, an otherwise intelligent, decent, conservative family man whose memory I cherish with love and respect, went into a sudden fury when he saw Bill Clinton's image appear on TV. "Quick--where's the remote control?... I can't stand to look at his face!" He also used a curse word that I won't repeat here.

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John Bredin is a writer, educator, and host of the nonprofit TV show Public Voice Salon. The author of 15 books, his essays have appeared in Brooklyn Rail, New York Press, and Huffington Post. He has appeared in two movies, Variations, and (more...)
 
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9 people are discussing this page, with 19 comments


Thomas Knapp

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I was kind of hoping this piece would be satire instead of the dangerous horsesh*t it is.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jan 12, 2021 at 11:14:19 AM

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George King

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Reply to Thomas Knapp:   New Content

Interesting that the use of an empathy moment "should be to create caring human beings and good citizens, not better workers for the global economy" and then associating "shutting down free speech" in the same article by the author, educator?

My educational journey included the former empathy moments obviously but the latter was schoolyard bulling of the perceived weaker of the yard and a gaggle of not followers so much as those who go along with the bullies so they did not become the target of the same. The lack of maturity in this thinking and in the current events going on does not in any way reflect a well educated society but one of dogma, propaganda, cultism and the list goes on........

Just a refresher here that individuals and groups in the Democrat Party sacrificed their source of power (the workers and working class) for what they perceived as a grab for eternal power. By serving the oligarchs, who they empowered to rule over unmercifully the former for a hold on (assumed) power. From inside the gates the destruction continues from forces within and outside of the gates. Has the world gone mad as if rabies has most foaming at the mouth by manipulation and confusion from those who rule their environment. As for the clitonite, it was Clinton who led the way on the sellout decades back.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 13, 2021 at 5:10:12 AM

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Helen Carpenter

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Reply to Thomas Knapp:   New Content

Perfect first comment.....laughing...

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 13, 2021 at 8:09:54 AM

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Reply to Thomas Knapp:   New Content

Actually, it's not horse poop. The right-wing propaganda started with Rush Limbaugh, and

was continued with the likes of Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Tucker Carlson.

Trying to explain this to some people is like trying to convince a cigarette smoker that his

clothes don't stink. The smoker only realizes it when he quits smoking.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 13, 2021 at 4:47:51 PM

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Al Hirschfield

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Reply to Robert Gormley:   New Content

Unfortunately, Robert, the individual in question here I doubt has neither the will, nor the power, to quit...

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 13, 2021 at 5:49:04 PM

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Reply to Thomas Knapp:   New Content

Tom, your olfactory senses are better than mine (they're not as good at 92 as when I was 17),

but I thought I smelled male bovine manure).

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 13, 2021 at 8:30:24 PM

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Al Hirschfield

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The one comment you've received thus far, John, reflects how far we've gone off the rails, and what a long, grueling trek back it's likely to be.

I've actually been recently wondering the very same thing. The establishment media is going on and on (not without reason) about the complicity of Republican lawmakers in Wednesday's coup attempt, but very little mention of that of the right-wing media. I'm not sure reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine would actually go far enough. In a world where the Constitution is supposed to be... our constitution, one would think that, considering the enabling, propagandist role Fox & friends have played over decades now, in the corrupting of the principles this country was founded on, after last week, the FCC would have simply revoked all of their licenses to broadcast, period.

This seems to me the sanest and most legitimate response to such bona fide accessories to insurrection.

But thanks as always for your sober, humane and thoughtful perspective.

Much needed, and much appreciated.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jan 12, 2021 at 12:09:33 PM

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George King

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Reply to Al Hirschfield:   New Content

Al, not being sure of your age and experience maybe I can shed my take on this. Restoring one such FDR administrations honest and progressive actions by itself will not restore our nation's health but most all of them including the shaming of the oligarchs and their castration back into the broom closet will save us from slavery of which there are many forms. There can be no legislation for such restoration when the iron law of oligarchy continues to defang the peoples' power, when elections rely on their wealth which ensures that they and the best bought lawyers write the legislation and give it to the paid monkeys to pass unread and no comprehension as it is not debated and poured over from the citizens protection of Treasure, Commons and Inalienable Rights. Do you really think that anyone in the house or Senate read much less comprehended 10,000 pages in less than a week and conferred with their constituents? I digress.

As for the freedom of information I recall that there were newspapers of stature, truth by research and honesty for and from the citizens viewpoints but I also know there were a few gossip rags (Elvis is still alive and Marilyn Monroe's flings...) and way out there "I was kidnapped by aliens and returned to give you a message) stuff. The latter only sold to a very limited circulation, mostly at the checkout line in the grocery store because of the sensationalism draw, most had a look then passed as it was obvious as to what it was. Today none can be trusted because there is no competition for selling the truth as the money is made on selling you, not marketing a product beneficial to the citizen.

"It has become a sarcastic proverb that a thing must be true if you saw it in a newspaper. That is the opinion intelligent people have of that lying vehicle in a nutshell. But the trouble is that the stupid people, who constitute the grand overwhelming majority of this and all other nations, do believe and are molded and convinced by what they get out of a newspaper. And there is where the harm lies." Mark Twain

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 13, 2021 at 5:50:18 AM

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Al Hirschfield

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Reply to George King:   New Content

Thanks for your time and trouble George. But I'm not quite sure how this directly addresses the comment you are responding to. I wasn't advocating the restoration or creation of any particular legislation, just the applying of the FCC's existing power and authority to the situation at hand.

Any further clarification you may wish to offer would be appreciated.

Thanks.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 13, 2021 at 6:21:56 AM

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Rob Kall

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I agree that the level of lying by right wing media has gotten higher.

But The first amendment goes both ways. OpEdNews has been targeted repeatedly for lefty and Israel criticism content. There are millions of people who would like to see our site shut down, as well as CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times and Washington Post. And a lot of those people use what we would consider disgusting garbage, lying news sources like Fox, OAN, etc.

I think your thoughts about education are spot on. But shutting down media sites you disagree with is a dangerous, slippery slope. Much better to inoculate people so they can more intelligently assess whatever information they encounter.

Now I know that here at OEN we reject some content and some people argue that OEN readers are smart enough to sort out the difference. But it's also the job of OEN to curate content so it is well written. And that includes doing a reasonable job supporting your arguments or claims. So one of the biggest reasons we reject content is for making unsupported claims.

IF there were a way to require media to only allow content that is based on reasonably supported claims, that would be a better solution. There may be a place for totally unsupported speculation, but that would be called fiction.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jan 12, 2021 at 2:40:34 PM

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Al Hirschfield

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Reply to Rob Kall:   New Content

As you know, Rob, Fox was founded for the sole purpose of being a propaganda arm for the "Republican" Party. So it was never a bona fide journalistic enterprise to begin with, and have been screaming "fire" in a crowded movie theatre for decades. I therefore see no reason why they can claim First Amendment rights.

And, there is a way to require media outlets to allow only content that is based on facts: revoke the licenses of those who repeatedly fail or, refuse on principle, to do so.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jan 12, 2021 at 3:17:09 PM

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Al Hirschfield

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Reply to Al Hirschfield:   New Content

The First Amendment does not protect complicity to incitement to insurrection.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jan 12, 2021 at 3:46:36 PM

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Thomas Knapp

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Reply to Al Hirschfield:   New Content

If you support banning media, you're a fascist, full stop.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jan 12, 2021 at 4:41:45 PM

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Al Hirschfield

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full stop.

We should all be so lucky...

Submitted on Tuesday, Jan 12, 2021 at 5:33:50 PM

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Nels Wight

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Reply to Rob Kall:   New Content

Can anyone tell me what's great about LEFT wing media?

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 13, 2021 at 7:43:55 PM

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Reply to Nels Wight:   New Content

Nelly, did your Proud Boys grandson get hold of your computer?

Submitted on Thursday, Jan 14, 2021 at 12:58:04 AM

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Reply to Jim Arnold:   New Content

GAVIN & ENRIQUE don't answer.. I was foxing them with Nancy's laptop.

Submitted on Thursday, Jan 14, 2021 at 1:34:40 AM

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Reply to Nels Wight:   New Content

Ah. I was worried about you.

Submitted on Thursday, Jan 14, 2021 at 2:36:00 AM

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David Wieland

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Once again I see condemnation on purely ideological grounds. To call serious commentators who raise different questions and express a different point of view from yours a "gang of vapid, lying, hate-filled propagandists whose names rhyme with Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham" is too low-minded to be respectable.

There's a lot of room for more enlightened commentary. You're fostering a dark view of left-wing perspective.

Submitted on Thursday, Jan 14, 2021 at 4:26:11 AM

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