Rush Limbaugh called them “the drive-by media,” presumably because they behaved like drive-by shooters.
More recently he has honed in a delicious possibility – “state-run media.”
Some people call the establishment media “liberal,” but I don’t think that word is strong enough – certainly not anymore.
Others might be satisfied characterizing the ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN alphabet soup world of media as “left-wing,” but it’s not creative enough. It’s just too political.
What am I struggling over?
Rebranding what we have for too long euphemistically referred to as “the mainstream media.”
The so-called “mainstream media,” of which I was a part for decades before pioneering the first actual independent, alternative New Media agency on the Internet in 1997, no longer operates as a monopolistic filter of the news people consume. It’s been a long time – more than 17 years since WorldNetDaily.com broke on to the scene.
Our intent was always to challenge the corporate establishment media’s worldview and news ethic – not with criticism, but with competition.
But what to call the dinosaurs to expedite their extinction?
You will notice I have used the “e-word” more than once in this column. “Establishment” is a term I like in referring to the old guard. That’s the way we refer to politicians and government institutions set in their ways, hanging on to power and operating in a culture of corruption. It was an effective stigmatization tool during the 1960s – helping to demonize an enemy without necessarily personalizing it. Libertarians understand it. Conservative Republicans understand it. Even many leftists understand it, though perhaps misapply it.
I really like Rush’s “state-run media.” It hits hard and is fairly accurate, especially given the total defense and admiration the corporate media have for the shameful government support of outfits like PBS and NPR, which have more in common with the Pravda and Izvestia of the old Soviet Union than most Americans imagine. The corporate media play by the same rules as America’s “official” state-run media – meaning PBS and NPR. Both serve to keep the debate limited.
For instance, whenever the debt limit is approached, this aberrant form of journalism known as “mainstream” sets the terms of debate. Here are the choices:
1) If Congress doesn’t approve an increase in the debt limit, the government will shut down, default on its debt payments and the economy will crash; or,
2) Congress will do the right thing, increase the debt limit and all will be right with the world.
I honestly don’t exaggerate. There is no alternative ever discussed – not by reporters, not by commentators, not by pundits, not even by politicians. The idea that government should cut its spending to be in line with its revenues is never suggested as even a possibility. And the establishment of both parties seem happy it’s not.
And that’s really the fundamental problem with the media. They’re simply not doing the job they were designed to do.
The concept of independent, muckraking American journalism was to serve as a watchdog on government – first and foremost. That was the No. 1 job – the very reason it existed. Did you ever wonder why the framers of the Constitution included a special protection for the press in the First Amendment? They did it because they feared central government’s natural inclination to grab power. The Constitution was designed to limit that power. Checks and balances were put in place. And the founders believe one was desperately needed outside of government. They believed the press could serve that role as a kind of “fourth estate” – though some journalists today have quite imagined that “fourth estate” is an actual branch of government.
When I founded the first independent Internet alternative news agency more than 17 years ago, I called it “a free press for a free people.” I explained in the mission statement that the purpose of this experiment was to be that watchdog that had been sleeping too long. WND would offer “uncompromising journalism, seeking truth and justice and revitalizing the role of the free press as a guardian of liberty,” we explained. We would “remain faithful to the traditional and central role of a free press in a free society – as a light exposing wrongdoing, corruption and abuse of power.”
In other words, we would awaken the sleeping watchdog.
So what does that leave us with as a name for the corporate establishment press and their allies in the state-run media of NPR and PBS?
I call them the “lapdog media.”
They curl up into bed with their corporate establishment and government masters – and they’re not ashamed to do their bidding. The lapdogs get treats for doing their tricks to their corrupt trainers. The only watchdog role they serve is to bark ferociously at those journalists who actually try to hold government and other powerful institutions accountable to the rule of law and will of the people.
So what do you think?
Do you like it? The lapdog media.
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