Monday, February 20, 2012

Is the Right Wing Getting Set to Go After Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert?

Restoring Sanity Rally - Crowd
Crowd at Jon Stewart's and Stephen Colbert's Rally to Restore Sanity, Keep Fear Alive

The rally near the National Archives on The Mall attracted a quarter of a million people in October 2010, much more than the 67k estimated attendees at Glenn Beck's rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28 of that year. Other sites in the US held linked events Both estimations of crowds were given widespread respect except among the right wing media and the sources they control. So far Stewart and Colbert have avoided strong constraints that they mold their commentary to fit the desires of fat cats and the right wing media control machine.

**Picture allowed by Creative Commons license Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) and placed via coding available at Flickr. Roll over picture to see name of photographer who has has no relationship to this blog or blogger. **

There may have been a dangerous corner turned last week when the Right Wing journalism strategists realized how deeply people care about The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. After Wednesday's cancellation of Stephen's show due to the illness (as we have been informed) of the comedian's mother it took only a few days for an article in the Wall Street Journal by Dante Chinni the creator of Patchwork Nation Politics Counts: The Impact of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert telling the Journal's readers that the two Comedy Central shows are teaching things to people the Right deeply wants to control, "the Monied Burbs".

The Monied Burbs sound like a group from which the Right can get political, and personal power as well as those golden political dollars, and the a decent percentage of the group seems to be following the students in more likely Democratic patches to that hour of TV 4 days a week, learning things "free of the constraints of regular journalism".  You know those constraints like never mentioning that the extremely wealthy are ripping the rest of us off, and never working against invasions of various nations from which businesses want to extract oil and other resources, or against the interests of Israel, whatever our little buddy wants. Yeah, those constraints on mainstream media.

I find the way Mr. Chinni is using words, chilling. "Look Look, these people are being told stuff and our usual sources don't have control of what is being learned!" appears to be the hidden message.

It's the same problem that the wealthy and the right wing have with the Occupy movement.

In media though, the right has usually been able to pull the strings that guide the horse of information to the right. Recent evaluations of political fact checking sources show they now tilt towards a right wing bias instead of being honest representatives of reality. Rachel Maddow has repeatedly shown how the once more balanced "Politifact" Fact Checker has shifted to the right.

And just recently, the Washington Post's Pinnochio nose displaying Fact Checker (in this instance Glenn Kessler who followed Secretary of State Condi Rice around and make sure she sounded reasonable though her statements usually reflected the extreme right bias of the Bush administration) recent piece on the contraception controversy found:
The Guttmacher Institute, citing “confusion” over the statistic, on Wednesday posted the actual data behind it. It turns out it was based on a question that asked self-identified Catholic women who have had sex if they have ever used one of 12 methods of birth control. Jones, in an interview, said the women were asked to answer “yes” or “no” whether they had used each of the different forms; only two percent had said they had used only natural family planning.
Kessler also shows that the media accurately reported that finding, and Mrs. Pelosi basically said the same thing in the video near the top and yet he gives the former Speaker two Pinnochio noses!

People want fast ways to get real information on whether political people are telling the truth because they don't have time to sift through all the news especially since it's larded with nonsense and often propaganda by politicians business folk and others. So the fastest way for Kessler to show the right how much he values their support is to take a basically true statement that the news and Nancy Pelosi says and call it a half truth. I bet that hit the right wing sites instantly and Kessler knows he's on track to keep his good job.

The Right gets news media to tilt to their side by directly lambasting writers and analysts with insults and lamentations of "bias', but even more so, by going to their sources of money for whatever media they want to bend to their view. For Comedy Central, Vaicom might get complaints from thousands of people about "liberal bias". Non profits sponsored by right wing interest groups have lots of nickel a tweet or dollar a post "protestors" of "liberal bias" ready to ruin the reputation of those in the media who won't serve the purpose of the rich and the right wing.

Business folk and their representatives contact the the funding finding end of media that aren't serving their purposes and lay down threats of reduced ad purchasing or charitable donations. Pretty soon media folk are tilting more and more to the right.

In fact, searching on Mr. Chinni's name, I found instances where the he himself was the subject of attacks by News Busters and others, that may have taught the pollster that it's safer to do what they want and help them keep control over other media. And there he is in the pages of Murdoch's Wall Street Journal giving the heads up. "Watch out: Stewart and Colbert aren't under your control yet, and they are teaching real truths to the "monied burbs" whose minds and pocket books you want to influence."

Go to the comments sections. Some of the commenters are getting the message though others are as trusting as a the majority of the electorate that what they get in the news shows is a "balanced" view of reality. I fear some of the right wing pundits are just smart enough to know that Stewart and Colbert would be better off co-opted or removed from their slots.

This has happened before with others, and you see the constant battle to destroy Media Matters and it's funders, and , in fact,  though the group is already known to be liberal, FOX News constantly brings the same idea up time and again as if it's some kind of scandal.

Will Viacom back the integrity of the Stewart and Colbert programs or will they push them to add more right wing propaganda. The two shows already host plenty of conservative politicians along with liberal ones and the regular authors and celebrities. But, we should watch and listen as to whether a stink arises in the next few weeks.

If attacks on Stewart and Colbert appear we need to fight against them anyway we can. Sometimes it just takes people getting upset for a little while. In other cases it's a long process. We need to protect the right of Mr. Stewart and Mr. Colbert to report what they see in our society honestly. It is after all commentary. And the hosts often give the right wing politicians more than enough credit and often just enough room that the politicians expose themselves. It's just that the two shows won't cover for conservatives and pretty up their claims and desires in front of the rest of us.

Beyond The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, though, we also need to protect other sources of political knowledge who should be allowed to report things as they see them. For example Media Matters is currently under attack right now and some people within mainstream news have faced allegations that they are coordinating unnaturally with the news site, or even with David Brock and Satan, you know.

That's how the right does it. A ton of manure falls on a news site or even one or two people and enough of it sticks in the minds of the lethargic public their sponsors will  feel forced (or enabled) to demand a move to the right or even to ask for employee resignations or disbandment of news sources.

 To fight this use your presence on the web when you're home, in the streets when you're there, to tell people how the right corrupts the news, and where they can go for better information.