We need progressive broadcast news, and we need it badly. I'm not talking about progresive talk radio; I mean a real news service that presents a side of the news the traditional media does not, and political reporting, as currently practiced, apparently cannot.
On the way to work at 5:15 AM, I listened to KNX, the big CBS-owned AM news station out of Los Angeles. The host (we'll call him John) turned to the Buffet Rule vote held yesterday, and, talking with one of KNX's "political consultants," (we'll call him Bob) engaged in roughly the following exchange (paraphrased from memory):
"So the President is going to be making a speech today in which he will criticize the role of speculators in driving up oil prices. Bob, isn't this just an example of election-year posturing on the Administration's part?"
"Yes, John. This is just part of the Obama Administration's populist posturing, trying to position themselves better against the Republicans come election time."
There's a heck of a lot to unpack from that 10-second exchange, including the following:
- There was no discussion of the actual, and very significant, role of speculators in driving up oil prices. Instead, all that was discussed was why the Administration was raising the issue.
- Even then, the rationale provided for Obama's raising the issue was dismissed as merely an election-year ploy, or "posturing". There was no discussion of whether Obama actually believes that speculators drive up oil prices, or whether his administration thinks it's a big enough problem to actually address this year (or next). The implication was that Obama was simply engaging in a bit of Romneying--saying what he thought needed to be said to get re-elected. Worse, the exchange between John & Bob made the subject seem entirely trivial and not worth discussing, let alone bringing up in the context of a Presidential speech.
- And finally, it is obvious both Bob and John had no idea, or did not care, who was actually listening to them - commuters in their cars. Commuters who spend a hell of a lot on gas on LA freeways every year. KNX was effectively telling them "We don't care about your concerns, and we certainly don't care about how much you're paying for gas or how speculators are screwing you at the pump." Worse, they're actually telling those same consumers not to even pay attention to the issue, as it's just so much election-year "posturing". Not a real issue. Just forget about it next time you fill up.
I have to emphasize that KNX is arguably a "mainstream" media outlet; they're not aggressively pro-Republican like Fox. And yet, this is the kind of not-so-subtle Republican messaging that's crept into mainstream reporting these days, the kind of messaging that the American people are continually bombarded with day in and day out. We need our own brodcast news to combat it and give people a fresher, more acurate, view of events.