We set out today to dissect Barack Obama’s shameful appearance on Meet The Press yesterday. We’ll get to that tomorrow.
It occurred to us that a bigger issue was rising in the presidential campaign that was encapsulated by yesterday’s Meet The Press: The rise of a new political party – The Big Media Party.
Readers of Big Pink will notice that we regularly refer to “Big Media” not the generally approved MSM (Main Stream Media) utilized by Big Bloggers and the idiot “frame” obsessed to describe the current state of American journalism.
Why do we employ the term “Big Media” and not MSM?
Before the middle of the last century, before the labor union movement emerged and grew powerful, the description utilized by labor to describe their opponents was “Big Business”. The term “Big Business” aptly described the influence and power wielded by business interests which had reached actual if not monopolistic levels.
Eventually, as the labor union movement itself grew in membership and power. Big Business countered the growing labor union power with its own epithet aimed at the labor union movement: “Big Labor”. In both instances but particularly with Big Business the term “Big” generally [has] been acknowledged to be “big” not so much because of the size of their resources as because of the influence their members could exert on many companies and in many fields of activity.
It is with that history in mind that we refer to the modern media establishment as “Big Media”. Big Media therefore is “big” not so much because of the size of their resources as because of the influence their members could exert on many companies and in many fields of activity.
Bob Somersby of Daily Howler, and David Brock at Media Matters, among others, chew at the symptoms of today’s media establishment and rightly point out the ugly influence and misrepresentations Big Media inflicts on our current politics. These “progressive” analyses of the current media establishment echo the earlier critiques of Big Media which emerged out of the right wing movement.
The right wing, aided at the time with massive infusions of cash from loony billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, created an infrastructure to oppose what they perceived to be a “liberal” media. The infrastructure created by the right wing devised a strategy to oppose what they viewed as liberal media bias. That strategy was called “playing the refs”. The “refs” meant the “referrees” – Big Media referrees.
“Playing the refs” was the right wing strategy to intimidate Big Media outlets into the type of coverage the right wing desired. Eventually the “playing the refs” strategy was joined by the emergence of right wing media outlets such as the Weekly Standard, New York Post, Washington Times and Fox News and the entire gamut of right wing think tanks and institutions.
The “refs” of course was Big Media. “Playing the refs” was a very successful strategy. The “liberal” media was cowed. The Washington Post, in competition with the completely subsidized Washington Times, began a drift towards the right. Supposed liberal outlets like the New York Times began to prove their “fairness” with increased attacks on progressives and their policies. By the late 1990s the New York Times was an anti-Clinton operation printing daily attacks on the Democratic president. The alleged liberal media savaged Al Gore when he ran for president in 2000. When Bush looted the American economy and deceived the country into war “liberal” outlets such as the New York Times were effectively silent.
Earlier in the century, in 1949, media outlets operated under The Fairness Doctrine. By 1967 the Federal Communications Commission incorporated The Fairness Doctrine into its regulations. The Fairness Doctrine and the Equal Time provisions forced media outlets to provide coverage to a wider array of interests. When the right wing optained power in the 1980s the Fairness Doctrine and Equal Time provisions were effectively dead. In 1986 Judge Bork and Scalia, then at the Appeal Court, wrote an opinion that neutered the Fairness Doctrine and in 1987 the FCC abolished the Fairness Doctrine altogether.
Big Media rejoiced at the death of the Fairness Doctrine. The profits began to roll in. Instead of Big Media covering elections fairly, political campaigns were forced to increasingly pay for television commercials. Where once Big Media and their Princes of the Press had to provide access they now became the gatekeepers – the “refs”.
In any boxing match there are three persons in the ring. The only person who emerges unscathed is the referree. Big Media is that referree now.
What does this all mean?
Political campaigns used to desire “free media” by speaking to issues and policies. The goal was to run a good campaign, with good policies, and the best candidate thereby garnering “free media” coverage of their campaigns. This is no longer true.
Big Media, as represented by the Tim Russerts and Chris Matthews and many others, is no longer just a referree. Big Media wants to be paid homage. Big Media wants their agenda adopted as policy by the candidates.
A shameless candidate like Barack Obama goes on Meet The Press not to appeal to the voters, but to appeal to Tim Russert. Writing of the shameless Obama appearance on Meet The Press, Paul Krugman wrote Why, Barack, Why?
All of which makes it just incredible that Barack Obama would make obeisance to fashionable but misguided Social Security crisis-mongering a centerpiece of his campaign. It’s a bad omen; it suggests that he is still, despite all that has happened, desperately seeking approval from Beltway insiders.
Substantively, this is wrong — and the tone-deafness is hard to understand. Tim Russert doesn’t vote in Iowa.
Krugman doesn’t get it. Obama and Edwards are not appealing to the voters. Obama and Edwards are appealing to Big Media and adopting Big Media narratives and political agenda.
Big Media will “ref” in Obama and Edwards’ favor now in order to destroy Hillary. But the Big Media wheel will grind them down if they were ever to get the nomination. Big Blogs will help Big Media for their own self interests as they regurgitate Big Media “waitress tips” stories.
In New Hampshire Ripublican commercials are aimed at weakening Hillary’s support aided and abetted by Big Media and alleged Democrats.
Hillary is fighting against Big Media narratives and the Princes of the Press, Big Blogs, PINOs, Naderites, Ripublicans and Russert worshipping Democrats.
Hillary is fighting with Democrats, progressive independents, and good policies at her side. Hillary will win.
It’s time to Turn Up The Heat.