Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America” courtesy of Salon:
One key factor that has altered campaign coverage comes from the corporate right in the form of “conservative” media. If there has been a vacuum created by the downsizing of newsrooms, conservative media have filled it with an insistent partisanship unseen in commercial news media for nearly a century. The conservative media program has been a cornerstone of the Dollarocracy’s — the big money and corporate media election complex — political program since at least Lewis Powell’s 1971 memo. Initially, the work was largely about criticizing the news media for being unfair to conservative Republicans and having a liberal Democratic bias. Although the actual research to support these claims was, to be generous, thin—one major book edited by Brent Bozell actually claimed corporations such as General Electric were “liberal” companies with an interest in anti-business journalism because they had made small donations to groups like the NAACP and the Audubon Society—the point was not to win academic arguments. The point of bashing the “liberal media,” as Republican National Committee chairman Rich Bond conceded in 1992, was to “work the refs” like a basketball coach does so that “maybe the ref will cut you a little slack” on the next play.
The ultimate aim of Dollarocracy was, as James Brian McPherson put it, “to destroy the professionalism that has defined journalism since the mid-twentieth century.” The core problem was that professional journalism, to the extent it allowed editors and reporters some autonomy from the political and commercial values of owners, opened space for the legitimate presentation of news and perspectives beyond the range preferred by conservatives. That professional journalism basically conveyed the debates and consensus of official sources and remained steadfastly within the ideological range of the leadership of the two main political parties—it never was sympathetic to the political left—was of no concern. It still gave coverage to policy positions on issues such as unions, public education, civil rights, progressive taxation, social security, and the environment that were thoroughly mainstream but anathema to the right. Key to moving the political center of gravity to the right was getting the news media on the train, and that meant getting them to have a worldview more decidedly sympathetic to the needs of society’s owners. Newt Gingrich was blunt when he told media owners in 1995 that they needed to crack the whip on their newsrooms and have the news support the corporation’s politics. “Get your children to behave,” he demanded in a private meeting with media CEOs.
In the late 1990s, Rupert Murdoch launched the Fox News cable channel, and because television is such a ubiquitous and powerful medium, that put right-wing news media in the center of the mainstream. Michael Wolff characterized Fox News as “the ultimate Murdoch product,” because it brought tabloid journalism to American television. What has been missed in the analysis of Fox News is the business model of tabloid journalism: dispense with actual reporting, which costs a lot of money to do well, and replace it with far less expensive pontificating that will attract audiences. For a tabloid news channel, that means the value added is a colorful partisan take on the news; otherwise the channel has no reason to attract viewers. Former CNN head Rick Kaplan told the story of how he was confronted by Time Warner executives in 1999 or 2000 who were dissatisfied with CNN’s profits despite what had been record revenues and a solid return. “But Fox News made just as much profit,” Kaplan was informed, “and did so with just half the revenues of CNN, because it does not carry so many reporters on its staff.” The message to Kaplan was clear: close bureaus and fire reporters, lots of them. In short, Fox News is the logical business product for an era where corporations deem journalism an unprofitable undertaking.
Fox News and the conservative media sector (including the conservative blogosphere) provide a “self-protective enclave” for conservatives to cocoon themselves. Research demonstrates that the more a person consumes conservative media, the more likely she is to dismiss any news or arguments that contradict the conservative position as liberal propaganda and lies. Tom Frank argued that the point of conservative media is to facilitate a “deliberate cognitive withdrawal from the shared world” by their adherents. Conservative media also, to a remarkable extent, stay on message, and the message is largely that of the Republican Party; these media, at least Fox News and Limbaugh, seem to march in lockstep with the same talking points, the same issues, and even the same terminology deployed across the board. They apply the core principles of advertising and propaganda.
There of course never WAS a "Left wing media," only a media that presented all sides of an issue and did so factually, And since a fair exposure of the Right Wing agenda rarely looked appetizing to the American people that simply could not be allowed to continue.
The rabid partisanship which is currently ripping our nation asunder can be traced back to the initial conversation between Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch that ultimately resulted in the birth of Fox News.
Benedict Arnold had NOTHING on those two.