Yesterday, I attended the invitation only Progressive Media Summit, organized by the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee (DSOC).
About 70 progressive media people participated, including a number of people on the business side, including Tom Athans, founder of the Ed Schultz show, Ron Hartenbaum, owner of the Stephanie Miller show, and Mark Green, President of Air America.
There were representatives from firedoglake and dailykos and bloggers John Aravosis of Americablog, Jerome Armstrong of MYDD, Duncan Black of Atrios, and Matt Stoller of openleft, plus a number of talk show hosts and their producers, including Ed Schultz, Jon Elliot, Mark Levine, Christiane Brown, Rob Sherman and Andre Michael Eggelletion.
I was surprised to see many major progressive media sites not represented and I'm not sure if these were not invited or just chose not to show up in person or have a staffer represent them. These included: Huffingtonpost, Rawstory, alternet, thinkprogress, truthout, commondreams, buzzflash, talkingpointsmemo, counterpunch, thinkprogress, smirkingchimp, tompaine, wonkette...
The reward was direct contact-- Q & A, handshakes, conversations with almost two dozen senators and leaders in the house. Here's the list of members of congress who spoke to our small group. I had a chance to chat with, ask questions of and/or shake hands with and chat with the ones who I've placed an asterisk next to.
The goal of the conference was to build bridges between the Democratic outreach committee and the progressive media, to thank us for what we'd done, to ask for patience, because they were very aware of high levels of dissatisfaction with the failure (my word) to end the war and deal with FISA, SCHIP, etc. Officially opening the meeting, Harry Reid told a story illustrating the need for patience,
A fellow asked God, "I've always wanted to know, with you, hOw long is a million years?
And God answered, 'About a second.'
And then, the fellow asked, to you, how much is a million dollars?
God answered, "About a penny."
And the man said, well, could I borrow a penny from you?
And God answered, "I need a second to think about it."
Reid thanked the progressive media for being in the trenches, "protecting our backs" using the example of how the right wing media had attacked the Frost boy they had used as an example in the efforts to pass the SCHIP bill.
"You spoke out. You turned that from a negative to a plus," Reid said, "You did a wonderful job of responding.
...Your criticism, I always take it as constructive criticism, hard as that is sometimes,
has helped us to stay grounded, to focus on what we're doing.
....The role of progressive radio, and of course, on-line work, has changed and increased in efficiency, breadth and I think in direction significantly. I recognize that you and I are not always going to agree on things... but I think if we are honest with each other, that's a tremendous step in the right direction.
Reid specifically singled out progressive media people in attendance who had been especially helpful-- Joan Carter with Dailykos, Christine Hardin Smith with Firedoglake, and talk show hosts Stefanie Miller, Ed Schultz and Christiane Brown (of Reno's KJFK.)
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