Media Misinformation Impacts Entire Progressive Agenda

In the rich and varied landscape of important issues about which progressives care, there are many that currently stand out in the news:  drilling, immigration reform, and foreign policy are just a few. One issue that has become a constant backdrop for all the others is misinformation in the media—and it doesn't get the attention it deserves.  While some of you may know a lot about this topic and stay up to date on what right wing media is doing, many of you may have less information. We at Tides do not profess to be experts or have all the answers, but we do hope to highlight some resources for you.

Conservative misinformation in today's politicized media climate is being pushed into the mainstream more aggressively and easily because of prominence of new media and changes in journalistic integrity. Conservative media and Tea Party leaders spend thousands of hours pushing misinformation, smearing progressives, practicing "journalism of assertion" (presenting unsubstantiated opinion and rumor  as fact) and talking to voters through their television and radio shows. They help change public opinion and they even influence the more credible media. Inaccurate Fox News reports have seeped into CNN, The New York Times, Washington Post, and others. These energetic efforts threaten the broader progressive agenda; in fact, you could even say it's a broad-ranging attack on the entire progressive community.

Old    newspapers

image: ShironekoEuro

The list of progressive organizations assaulted by Fox News grows daily, and the right wing media is likely to be promoting falsehoods about the specific issue you work on or care about. Here are just a few links that highlight the misinformation influencing public perceptions about some key issues:

Fox News does its best to air the most fringe, radical, and oftentimes hateful rhetoric heard anywhere on the right. Demonizing people doing good work as communists or fascists who are trying to tear down capitalism is patently ridiculous. At Tides, we care that right wing media continues to attack social justice organizations. We believe government has a place in society and the Tea Party's anti-government views are nonsense. Why should you care, and what can you do? A few tips to get you started follow below.

Stay informed by credible sources and find accurate reporting. For example, check out Chris Matthew's MSNBC documentary, Rise of the New Right which premiered on June 17 and focuses on Tea Party activists' extraordinary rise in the last year.

Support organizations that are doing good work on these media issues, as well as those who are targets of the right so they can be better equipped to deal with the fallout. There are many out there doing great work, such as Media Matters with their excellent research and monitoring of conservative misinformation, and funders like Jewish Funds for Justice.

Lastly, but most importantly, get engaged and volunteer this election season to help counter the Tea Party numbers.

We at Tides are interested in knowing how important you think the issue of right wing media is. Please comment and let us know.

Also see: the June 2010 issue of Tidings: Media and the Progressive Agenda.

  • Ernie Fazio

    I believe the issue of right wing media is as important as any issue on the progressive agenda primarily because it is dedicated to defeating every one of those issues. There is no compromise or cooperation possible between progressives and movement conservatives. The right lives in a different society, holds radically different world views, considers itself to be under siege, and is extremely angry and interested in expressing that anger at the ballot box, on the street and in the media. Unfortunately, the mainstream media has become celebrity-crisis-scandal driven. Actual news analysis is scrapped for cheap criticism. Even NPR has bowed to an ill-advised sense of fairness giving opportunities to the most outrageous voices on the right. Even "the progressive" media--Grit TV (Flanders) Democracy Now, MSNBC (Maddox)--has more fun attacking the Obama administration than objectively reporting on it. The Progressive Agenda is split into many "agendae" where the voices of each issue area are absolutist and critical. It is hard being an old line liberal with human rights and economic justice as one's priorities.

    Ernie Fazio

  • http://dombrassey.com dom brassey

    "journalism of assertion" = nice term.

  • http://missouribud@hotmail.com Buddy McReynolds

    I see both the Progressive and the Conservative groups calling each other names like a bunch little school kids.

    One belives in big goverment, the other small goverment. Either way the goverment works for the people, not the people work for the goverment.

    My advice is if people want the truth listen to what both sides have to say.Then go to the archives and read the original writtings and make your own decision on which group you belive is telling the truth.

  • MarkC

    A good illustration of this that is relevant to the foundation is diaried here:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/7/20/886030/-I-was-right-about-the-would-be-cop-killer-and-FOX-News

  • http://photolitherland@deviantart.com Chris L

    The media cant be trusted, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, even the BBC. None can be trusted with anything they tell you. It is terrible, I really hope mainstream media dies out soon. I rarely if ever watch the news on TV and I know how incredibly biased and evil most news organizations have become, its a great shame. I live in Arkansas and its absolutely astonishing the amount of hatred that is pumped into these peoples heads via Fox News. I am very saddened by all of this.

  • Susan

    It would not serve the purposes of those like Beck to concentrate on the traits we share as humans. Such would not fill his pockets. It serves his purpose to use our differences to foment fear.
    His God apparently has no compassion or love for humanity.
    Mr. Beck is without scruples or morality. A moral man would encourage his followers to confirm his claims.

  • Thomas Wilkson

    More important is to understand why the majority of Americans is turning against the progressive agenda- and it is not because of "right wing media". Lets face it, there are more liberal to left leaning news and opinion outlets than conservative ones. It is not because Americans do not support the basic tenants of the progressive agenda - they do. They disagree as to how to get there. They are practical, honest, decent people. They are the most giving, most caring people in the history of the world. If they disagree with Progressive agendas, it is cause to stop and reflect.

  • Michael Birkeland

    @ Thomas Wilkson

    "[Americans] are the most giving, most caring people in the history of the world."

    I agree with most of your rethorics, but in the history of the world? Are you quite sure? Many Americans are very nice and caring. But that might be taking it too far. ;) Otherwise great! And I believe misinformation by the media is a grave GRAVE problem!