One of the most persistent right-wing memes is that “the media” is left-wing, or at least liberal.
Donald Trump’s constant slagging of the media as “fake news” and “enemies of America” with a “liberal agenda” is reinforced by far-right politicians and pundits worldwide.
Many liberals and progressives mistakenly buy into the claim that most mainstream media is on their side.
But the harsh fact is that most newspapers, news magazines, and broadcast news are capitalist captives who count on advertising revenues and audience numbers for survival.
Their focus on making money narrows and shapes journalistic choices, making hardcore, authentic journalism less likely in those venues.
In many markets, especially where there’s only one “serious” newspaper, the “news” is slanted in favor of advertisers and to avoid upsetting conservatives.
A potent example of this is seen in Florida’s Tampa Bay area, where a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times (TBT), deliberately refuses to do serious, long-form, persistent investigative reporting into right-wing Governor Ron DeSantis.
Fear of DeSantis is presumably a huge reason behind the newspaper’s soft coverage of DeSantis. The self-proclaimed “Top Gov” has viciously, publicly attacked journalists and even ordered a police raid of a whistleblower who claimed the governor was lying about Florida’s COVID situation during the height of the pandemic.
Lack of deep journalistic investigation helps DeSantis hide the shocking details of his military career. That’s why few Floridians, including DeSantis supporters, know he was a military attorney whose assignments included the Guantanamo Bay torture site and Fallujah, Iraq.
At Guantanamo, innocent men who’d been scooped up by illegal kidnapping and bounties were tortured in violation of the Geneva Convention and other “rules of war.”
DeSantis was stationed there as a military attorney during these vicious activities. Insiders suspect his function was similar to that of John Yoo, the infamous torture-justifying White House counsel for then-President George W. Bush.
Yoo, who somehow is now a law professor at the supposedly liberal University of California, Berkeley, worked hard to create a “torture memo” giving Bush legal cover for what America was doing to detainees.
DeSantis was also stationed in Fallujah, which was besieged by American forces during the Iraq War, leading to many civilian deaths. Check out this documentary on likely war crimes committed by American soldiers in Fallujah...
You’d think that any Florida political journalist would be eager to investigate and expose the governor’s sordid war history.
But when I queried ALL the Tampa Bay Times’ Florida politics “reporters,” asking them to do real journalism and expose the governor’s likely involvement in war crimes, all but one completely ignored my requests.
And the only one that did respond said anonymously it’s hard to get documents about DeSantis’ military career, and besides, many readers love DeSantis, so the newspaper has to please them or it will lose circulation and advertisers.
The Tampa Bay Times is based in a very conservative part of Florida, home to many virulent Trumpers and Q-Anon cultists, and that’s a significant factor in how newspaper management chooses what to cover and how to cover it.
They’re worried that telling the truth would offend their biggest advertisers and many of their readers.
Like many newspapers, TBT is struggling financially. In its bid to remain profitable, it shifted away from deep-dive investigative journalism such as done by Pro Publica.
These days, many TBT articles are thinly-disguised advertorials on behalf of the area’s major industries, such as tourism, boating, fishing, construction, entertainment, sports.
DeSantis is happy the TBT has gone soft. For example, when he used massive amounts of taxpayer money to fly desperate refugees from Texas to other states in a shady scheme that could well involve insider collusion and illegal diversion of public monies, it was mostly left to independent journalists, like some who write for Daily Kos, to uncover the full details.
In late 2022, journalist Mike Prysner, along with Empire Files and Eyes Left, debuted a podcast episode featuring interviews from torture victims and American soldiers indicating DeSantis committed war crimes. Here it is:
You’d have hoped TBT and other so-called “liberal” Florida media would zealously and quickly look into such an important story…but you’d be wrong. When I contacted TBT’s so-called journalists, none were interested.
I’ve yet to see any substantive journalism from TBT regarding DeSantis’ military career, his fascist leanings as governor, and his lackluster congressional career.
The general consensus is that TBT is afraid of the governor, and does everything possible to avoid angering him.
Fortunately, there is at least one serious journalist working at TBT. At great risk to her own personal safety, she has the guts to take on the “church” of Scientology, which is headquartered in the Tampa Bay area.
Other than that, and despite its Pulitzers, the Tampa Bay Times is much less useful, insightful, and relevant than Daily Kos.
Facts have a “liberal bias,” someone once said. When Pro Publica, Daily Kos, and other media tell the truth, they’re not being liberal. They’re doing the job required of journalists.
As CNN gradually becomes more right-wing and other corporate media continue to serve as public relations outlets for rich people, politicians, and corporations who rule our world, citizen journalism is more important than ever.
Because the sad fact is you can’t count on the “liberal media” to expose the dangers we face, or the scary people—like Ron DeSantis—who threaten our civil liberties, environment, and democracy.
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