Monday, May 30, 2011

Revealing the True Soul of US Television "News" Commentary

I've been bothered by how obviously right of centre the supposedly "liberal media" truly is in the US. There are many TV shows where they invite Republicans to bash Obama but no Democrats to defend him. Of they will have a panel of 3 right wing nuts to 1 "liberal" who gets shouted down by the stacked deck of "commentators".

Here's an article from the Washington Monthly that notes this same thing at Meet the Press this week:
It was quite a roundtable on “Meet the Press” yesterday. Viewers got to see a Republican strategist, a conservative pundit, a conservative Democrat, and an ostensibly center-left columnist who thinks that Democrats are big meanies when it comes to Medicare.

It was “Must See TV” for viewers eager to see a soul-crushing discussion.


It’s exasperating, but it’s worth reemphasizing what too many establishment types simply refuse to understand: Democrats are telling the truth. Indeed, Dems are doing what the media is reluctant to do: offering an accurate assessment of the Republican plan for Medicare. If voters find the GOP proposal frightening, the problem is with the plan, not with Democrats’ rhetoric.

I’m at a loss to understand what, exactly, Ruth Marcus, David Brooks, and their cohorts would have Dems do. Congressional Republicans have a plan to end Medicare and replace it with a privatized voucher scheme. The proposal would not only help rewrite the social contract, it would also shift crushing costs onto the backs of seniors, freeing up money for tax breaks for the wealthy. The plan is needlessly cruel, and any serious evaluation of the GOP’s arithmetic shows that the policy is a fraud.

Which part of this description is false? None of it, but apparently, Democrats just aren’t supposed to mention any of this. One party is allowed to present this agenda, but the other party is expected to sit quietly on their hands.
With a constant barrage of right wing media telling people that entitlements are sinking the ship of state under a flood of debt. But not a mention of big Bush tax cuts for the rich or the uncosted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The message that Medicare can't be afforded is this year's flavour-of-the-day. Remember how in 2006 Bush tried hard to sell the message that Social Security is "broke", that is is "just IOUs", that the big budget deficits mean that the "only choice" is to cut entitlements like Social Security, it isn't hard to believe that most people think there is no hope and are willing to sign up for raising retirement to 78 and cutting benefits in half so that the government can go back to handing out more tax cuts to billionaires and millionaires who, this time, will cross their hearts and hope to die pledge that when they get these cuts they will churn out a lot of "trickle down" wealth so the bottom 90% can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. Ridiculous.

Robert Reich served on the board of Social Security and constantly blogs to point out that the program is solvant with only a minor shortfall some 20 years out which is absolutely meaningless because nobody can predict with certainty if the economy will leap ahead by 5% next year or sink by 2%. But Republicans beat the drums of doom and sell the new religion of "gotta cut entitlements".

No wonder US politics is skewed so hard right. The media spouts right wing nonsense 24/7. They present a centre-right panel as "balanced". Tragic.

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