Tag Archives: rnc

Boulversement

The news this week has seen a couple of stunning reversals, where tides turned or sometimes even more shockingly refused to.

google protest

A collaboration of almost every major name in left-leaning political action protested in front of Google’s headquarters yesterday morning. Credo, UltraViolet, Bend the Arc, ColorOfChange, and Daily Kos all sent representatives with a clear message – that Google, or more specifically Google-owned YouTube, shouldn’t provide streaming services for the Republican National Convention this year, at least as long as Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee.

In this day and age, conventions are less of a formal process and generally more of a three-day long political advertisement describing the Party’s and particularly the Party’s presidential nominee’s vision for the country. In that light, even with Trump facing more scrutiny than typical at the convention, it still would be more of a platform for him than vehicle for voters to become informed about his policies. In light of that, this protest followed in the footsteps of similar calls for him to not be a guest on various news programs and for several companies to divest from his businesses and television shows.

google protest 2.jpg

Unfortunately, not long after the protest Google announced that YouTube would indeed be the streaming service available for this year’s Republican convention.

Big Money oozes down ticket

While sponsors and service-providers might not have been so skittish over the prospect of a presumably Trump-nominating convention, many high profile donors have been as noted in an article on Wednesday on Reclaim the American Dream. Terrified of Trump’s potential to alienate voters from the party as a whole, a huge rush of donations has already gone in conservative circles to state-level races, and sometimes even more locally.

Author Hedrick Smith points out that the funds involved are already reaching extremely high numbers more typically associated with national campaigns:

Conservative donors have contributed nearly 70 percent of the $707 million in SuperPAC money raised to date, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In the hot senate races in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, SuperPacs, Candidates and parties on both sides have raised war chest that already total from $23 million to $32 million in each state.

Many of these states will in all likelihood still see extensive advertising from presidential campaigns, but the level of wall-to-wall saturation associated with those types of candidates is already promising to become more common with senatorial races, and maybe even more local ones as well.

Distorting democracy

In this jaded age, it’s easy to look at that rush to support Tea Party freshmen senators with unprecedented donations and simply see it as a reflection of the problems in our post-Citizens United electoral system. Unfortunately, these sorts of structural flaws have long been with us and for many years now have been redirecting electoral outcomes away from their expected course, as detailed in a Demos report on Chicagoan politics released yesterday.

Some of the findings in the report catalog what’s long been said about local races with a lot of money put into them: that much of it comes from outside of the communities holding the elections, and that it biases candidates towards business and upper class interests. Interestingly, it also showed that among the large donations that are still made in-community, at least within Chicago they overwhelmingly come not only from White residents, but from White residents living in wildly disproportionately White parts of the city.

Against a telling gender gap as well, what this report showed is how systemically disruptive these large donations tend to be. It not only is an opportunity for outsiders to sway local decisions to their favor, but just another vehicle for uniquely powerful local voices to assert their narrow vision of how their city is and what their city could be. That’s how the city that rioted against Trump’s appearance can also have a leadership that pursues racially-charged policies that sound quite akin to his.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Some quick thoughts on the dangers of our post-truth media

TW: references to slut-shaming rhetoric and classist anti-choice legislation

David Roberts has already the heavy lifting for me on this topic, what with his invention of the term “post-truth politics”, his documentation of how the shift towards it has destabilized our political system, and most recently how journalists face the age-old choice between collaboration with or resistance to this new political mode. As Roberts excellently summarizes it:

“Do [journalists] call them as they see them and get labeled ‘biased’ and ‘partisan’? Or do they follow the lead of The Washington Post’s The Fix and cover politics like a theater critic assessing performances? That’s been the default mode for Politico-style journalists (like, say, Mark Halperin) for a long time. It’s safe and comfortable. There’s rarely any penalty for getting things wrong. You can rise quite high among the ranks of Very Serious People in that mode. But for those like Ezra, rankled by facts, irritated by conscience, it’s not a very attractive route.”

While I think this is a great explanation of the choice that virtually all journalists today face – between advancement and decency, power and duty – it misses that not only are journalists competing for a small number of superior positions, but also their reporting impacts the feasibility of the system that rewards only a small minority of journalists. For that tiny group and those who hope to become one of them, reporting that is critical of this power structure, even of seemingly unrelated parts of it, is a threat to their elite or would-be elite status.

That’s why articles like Alessandra Stanley’s criticism of fact checking of the Republican National Convention (RNC) are written. In it, she compares MSNBC’s coverage of the RNC to a brothel, ostensibly for promoting liberal alternatives to the politics of the RNC or unduly criticizing the Romney campaign. Her coup de grâce concerns Melissa Harris-Perry’s apparently lack of decorum or detachment when she noted that Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell supported medically unnecessary and paid out-of-pocket trans-vaginal ultrasounds to gain access to an abortion. Contextualizing the RNC and its many flaws is apparently disturbingly unserious, and Ms Stanley has felt compelled to bash MSNBC for making the choice.

That’s the secondary struggle faced by journalists today – not only do they have to turn down the most lucrative positions in their field if they want to say what needs to be said, but they have to weather criticism from even the New York Times writer for televised ceremonies and programs for saying it. Even she is so invested in the existing journalism market that she cannot allow MSNBC’s hostility to a series of liars lying to them to go by without some judgment. Journalists committed to reporting the truth have to battle against the social and economic influences corrupting their field and the journalists corrupted by them.

But there’s also reason to hope here. There’s a reason the owners of the media have shrunk it down to a mere five major companies – a single concerted effort to criticize the power structure that has allowed the media oligopoly to develop could destroy it. Those companies need a media consensus to ignore the unsavory practices that affect reporters and their career opportunities. A single major channel, like MSNBC, breaking from the pack is sufficient to promote reforming the system and replacing these negative influences.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
Advertisements