Keith Olbermann's departure from MSNBC caused a storm of discussion and debate on Twitter Friday night.Is it true that "Olbermann Wanted Out a Year Ago
?" How much did personality conflicts enter into it? How much influence did the Comcast merger with NBC-Universal
have? While it would be enlightening to know the details, we already know one thing: the march of corporate media continues, and the loss, at least for now, of Keith Olbermann is its latest win.
Keith isn't the first victim in the media war against progressives. Have we forgotten Bill Maher and Phil Donahue?
The media war on America from the right has been a slippery, muddy slope combining less broadcasting accountability and looser antitrust standards for mergers for the last 30 years, and the bottom is nowhere in sight. As with so many problems that started as Reagan initiatives, other players have contributed to exacerbating the problem, and many players have a vested interest in keeping the right's media war on America going.
Keith is not the first victim, nor will he be the last, in this war. Knowing the corporate media as we do, Keith's departure stirs in us a sense of injustice that inspires us to want to fight back. The Twitter stream was full of advice to Keith on what he should do next. Should he stay within corporate media, fatally flawed though it is, or look beyond it? Is our concern primarily focused on Keith's best interests or our own sense of urgency to fight back? Maybe it's both; fighting back is what Keith does best.
What can we do to fight back?
A small band of rebels with whom I am engaged have been working for months to build the foundation for a new progressive media network to challenge corporate media. I wrote about this effort in a previous diary called It's Time To Rebuild The Free Press
On Friday, sparked by Keith's departure, many folks were once again discussing the need for a progressive media network. This topic took center stage among the usual suspects: campaign reform, constitutional abuses, net neutrality, and other progressive topics depending on the news of the day. So far, a normal night on Twitter.
But then something new happened. During the discussion, I suddenly had 70 more Twitter followers. Now I'm not suggesting that 70 new followers are enough to take on Fox, of course, but this event confirmed my view that our progressive media project is the right initiative at the right time.
We can never expect corporate media to voluntarily represent the interests of the middle class, which I submit is one and the same with the progressive community.
In every discussion concerning the need for a progressive media network, I have received unanimous agreement that it is both needed and timely. We should not--we can no longer--leave the collecting and disseminating of information to those who have a vested interest in misinforming us. And we can't rely only on the few islands of integrity like Keith Olbermann to overcome a pervasive, relentless right-wing media machine.
Now it's our turn to take a New Stand for progressive messaging and to work together to ensure that our message is heard.
I propose that we let Keith take a break from shouldering the messaging needs of the progressive community and take a little initiative of our own.
The NewStand Media startup team has been working tirelessly to put infrastructure in place. We know what is possible, and we know how to get there, but we can't do it alone. If we are going to take on an entrenched, well-funded media machine, we need grassroots manpower. No matter what your expertise, experience, or situation, you can help us win this war, and we need you. We go beyond the usual asking for your support and actually show you how you can help.
Our website Progressive Leadership Action Network (PLAN)
is a work in progress and content will be added daily. You can see what we are working on in realtime, including our current initiative: publishing a book entitled "FIX America! How Each of Us Can Help All of Us.
" This will be a resource for progressives everywhere, written by prominent progressive experts about what our problems are and how to do more than just talk about them.
Finally, I make this appeal to "The Progressive Lion of the Media." Keith, your efforts to promote a new progressive media network would be invaluable. We're fighting with you. Any help you could give us would be greatly appreciated.
As the "Lion of the Progressive Media Establishment" departs MSNBC, we reflect on what Keith's departure means for him, for us, for the progressive community and for our movement. Keith, you taught us well. We will have your back while you plan your next steps, your next venture or while you simply take a break and reflect.
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