The Republican Noise Machine
News: David Brock, the reformed conservative noise-maker,
on how the Right has sabotaged journalism, democracy, and truth.
David Brock Interviewed by Bradford Plumer, Mother Jones
September 1, 2004
[an oldie, but goodie!]
[NOTE: All Emphasis that follows, has been added to highlight main points,
relevant to the current campaign season]
As a young journalist in the 1990s,
David Brock WAS a key cog the Republican noise machine.
Brock gained fame for his attack pieces
on Anita Hill and President Bill Clinton.
Then, in 2002, Brock came clean.
In his memoir, "Blinded by the Right", Brock admitted
that his work was based on lies and distortion,
and part of a coordinated smear campaign
funded by wealthy right wing groups
to discredit Clinton and confuse the public.
Since then, Brock has continued to expose
the conservative media onslaught.
In his newest book, "The Republican Noise Machine",
Brock documents how right-wing groups pressure the media
and spread misinformation to the public.
It's easy to see how this is done:
Fringe conspiracies and stories will be kept alive
by outlets like Rush Limbaugh, the Washington Times,
and the Drudge Report, until they finally
break into the mainstream media.
Well-funded think tanks like the Heritage Foundation
overwhelm news reporters with distorted statistics
and conservative spin.
Mainstream cable news channels employ
staunchly rightwing pundits --
like Pat Buchanan and Sean Hannity --
to twist facts and echo Republican talking points,
all under the rubric of "balance."
Meanwhile, media groups like Brent Bozell's Media Research Center
have spent 30 years convincing the public
that the media is, in fact, liberal.
As Brock says, it's all a sham:
"I have seen, and I know firsthand,
indeed from my own pen, how the organized Right
has sabotaged not only journalism
but also democracy and truth."
Not content to merely complain,
Brock launched Media Matters for America in May ,
a media watchdog organization devoted to exposing
rightwing distortions in the news,
and to chart undue conservative influence in the media.
David Brock: The Republicans knew
they couldn't win on the issues in 2000,
so they developed an explicit strategy to attack Gore's character --
and that ultimately seemed to have worked.
If you looked at the exit polls from 2000 you see that
on all the issues -- even on taxes -- voters preferred Gore
and his policies, but the election was lost on
the issues of trust and integrity.
David Brock: And I know from my involvement in
the anti-Clinton stuff that often the goal is
just to confuse people, and to take the political opponent
off his or her game, and to not let them talk
about what they want to talk about.
David Brock: ... a supposedly outside group,
the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth,
had been working as early as the spring ,
through a rather small ad buy and book published by Regnery ...
Then the group was able to get a lot of free media time for it --
first starting on the internet and radio, then moving
to cable shows like Fox, and finally getting into the New York Times
and NBC News.
And so you have something that has very little basis in fact
spreading like a virus, and it's creating doubt about Kerry's character.
David Brock: So when the newspapers finally got around to it,
they found that by and large the charges don't check out.
But it seems like a losing battle in the sense that
there's so much noise about all this.
MotherJones.com: So it's no longer about who's right,
but who can scream the loudest?
David Brock: Sure. You can't fault some of the reporting in the major papers.
But there are so many sources and information,
particularly with the internet, that stories
like the Swift Boat ads take on a life of their own.
David Brock: ...in the case of Gore, when there were
either quotes made up and put in his mouth that he never said
or quotes taken out of context like his Internet remarks.
David Brock: Part of it comes from this phony notion of balance --
that we need to hear all sides of a story, and that
everyone's entitled to express their opinion.
Conservatives have tried to write all this off
by saying who can be against their right to say
what they want to say?
Of course, nobody's against their right to say
they don't think John Kerry would be fit to command.
But to make specific allegations and then have no records
to back them up is a significant problem.
David Brock: The main thing is
to look for the susceptibility of the mainstream media
to adapt storylines that are advancing the agenda of the conservatives.
For example, one of the emerging themes from the Republican camp
seems to be that, because Kerry talked about his Vietnam record
at his convention, somehow he induced or invited people
to make up lies about him.
Over time this is how conventional wisdom gels in the media,
and before you know it, it will have been Kerry's fault
that he was the subject of a vicious and false attack.
Those are the kinds of things people should be looking for
and be very careful and concerned about.
Media Matters for America [founded by David Brock]
is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive
research and information center dedicated to
comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting
conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.
Have Democrats learned anything in the last 6+ years
about how the Media gets played, and how they play us -- the public?
Have Democrats not learned how the Media loves to 'Frame the Debate',
and often only echoes those Messages getting the most play,
in blog world, and radio land?
Have Democrats not learned that all too often "the facts" have very little to do with,
which stories get picked up, and which stories get 'hammered home' to us -- the public?
Well, it's up to us, in blog world and radio land, to become the Fact Checkers ON the Media
(with the help of organizations like Media Matters, Air America, CSpan, Congress, etc).
And this time around, it's up to us, NOT to Play their Game!
The themes the Media echoes, are usually NOT the Issues that really matter --
at least not the Issues that matter to most of us -- the public!
It's time for our Voices to Count again. For us set the Agenda ...
It's time for "The People" to 'Re-Frame the Debate'!
It's time for "The People" to uphold and protect the Constitution, from all enemies, foreign and domestic!
It's time for "The People" to make Government work, for us -- the public, once again!
It's time to change that MSM storyline -- and that starts here, with informed and concerned citizens,
speaking their minds, and when the opportunities arise, "speaking the truth power" too.
It's about time for a change, period.