Monday, January 28, 2008

Dennis Kucinich and the Anti-Democratic Role of Mainstream Media

David Bauder of Associated Press had a nice piece Jan. 27 on Dennis Kucinich's Quixotic efforts to force the mainstream media to include him in debates. Bauder concluded there was danger in court rulings that suggested that private media companies could do whatever the hell they wanted to with political debates, but also an important point Kucinich made showing that the MSM (as Eric Alterman of The Nation magazine calls mainstream media) have no interest whatsoever in promoting democracy.

Execs in charge of CNN, broadcast networks, and similar outlets claim they're trying to make a bipartisan debate manageable, and that this requires a shutout of Kucinich and Richardson on the Dem side, and the snubbing of the rogue Ron Paul campaign on the Republican side. But you know and I know what is really going on. If MSM cared about democracy promotion, they wouldn't even limit debates to the two major parties, but include everyone from the Revolutionary Communist Party to the American Nazis. Claims that this would make things uncontrollable ignore the fact that usually five or fewer minor parties ever make the ballot anyway. True democracy entails a cacophony of voices, and it's precisely that wide-open chaos the MSM can't stand.

The problem is worse than simply limiting debate to a few easily-identified faces. Brian Fuller's always-interesting Greeley's Ghost blog put forth the not-so-wacky conspiracy theory that advertising-driven media wants to control the public, not enable democratic practices. No better example can be provided than CNN's despicable behavior in the YouTube debates, when moderators like Wolf Blitzer tossed out serious questions of policy in favor of the silly and superficial. As Alterman stresses in his column again and again, MSM outlets will never operate in ways that enhance democracy. We have to unplug our most popular news sources and gain democracy by forcing it, but in a consumer-driven somnanbulent society of passive observers, how many people will be willing to fight the good fight?

1 comment:

Ruth said...

It also seems that if "lesser" candidates were included in debates, their boldness (such as Kucinich's), because they have less to lose if they are not moderate, would edge the debate closer to reality and real decisiveness. When only front runners debate, what of substance gets covered, even if the silly questions get eliminated? I mean, do we really see what they would actually DO if elected, since they are forced to sit on a fence and please "everyone" in the campaign season?