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Indy Digest — Liberals and the Free Press

Not everything that comes out of the mainstream media is brave, principled, accurate or useful

Dan LoPreto Mar 10

Editor’s Note: The Indypendent has a new resident gadfly. Dan LoPreto — an activist, bookseller, former-Nation Books editor and consummate reader — started mailing us his rantings back when Bernie Sanders was in the presidential running. They’re chock full of information, Dan’s meanderings through the latest intellectual debates and useful links. After much poking and prodding and many a beer, Dan finally broke down and agreed to let us share his digest with The Indy’s readers. So, without further adieu, here’s the first installment of The Indy Digest.

It is going to become (hopefully) increasingly difficult for liberals to heap unqualified praise on the mainstream press in an act of defense against Trump, specifically in light of the disgusting pieces about how Trump's tone is becoming more "presidential" as he pushes his "bold" agenda. Of course, it is vital to defend a free press (good Lord do I even have to say this?) and serious long-form journalism at all costs. Trump's fake news accusations and attacks on the media are undeniably dangerous. Many journalists and writers are bravely stepping up. . .  but that doesn't mean that all content that comes out of the mainstream press is brave or principled or accurate or useful.

This nonsense about Trump's new tone is a good example of how frequently the mainstream press avoids confronting power for the sake of click-bait or allegedly nonpartisan discourse. 

The New York Times’ new ad campaign is worth inspecting. The one about how it is the ultimate defender of Truth and if you care about Truth you better support the Times and protect it against creeping fascism.

This framework is completely unacceptable and wholly inadequate. Progressives have to combat Trump's genuinely threatening bullshit about fake news and so on, but we also can't give the mainstream press a pass and act like it is a paragon of truth. Academics like Bob McChesney, organizations like Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, blogs like Beat the Press, journals like the Columbia Journalism Review and sociological studies like the Propaganda Model are all super useful resources for critiquing the media in a productive way that doesn't play into the hands of the right wing. 

I mean, if I have to hear one more columnist who promoted the Iraq War on false information complain about 'alternative facts'. . . or politician who thinks Chelsea Manning should be in prison whine that Trump is suppressing the truth. . . or scholar who peddles discredited 'biology = race' science judge other people for living in a bubble. . . I'm gonna lose it.

 

 

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