Our content, too, is not frivolous. We address
important questions of war and peace, democratic values, and the sorry
state of the national news media. With investigative reports on issues
such as the Bush family’s hardball politics and the truth behind Colin
Powell’s legend, we also have helped empower tens of thousands of
Americans by giving them reliable information to help make sense of
today’s perplexing world.
I say all this not to toot our own horn, but to
point out a tragedy in modern American politics. While wealthy liberals
have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Democratic Party
political ads and other short-term projects, they have largely starved
media outlets that offer far more hope for America’s political future –
and can deliver far more bang for the penny.
This tragedy of under-funded independent journalism
has been compounded by the contrary strategy pursued by conservatives to
invest billions of dollars over the past quarter century to build their
own powerhouse media infrastructure. Conservatives now have a vast media
that rivals the mainstream or corporate media, which increasingly tilts
to the right in a frantic bid to hold onto conservative viewers and
The consequence of these conflicting strategies –
heavy conservative investment in media and relative neglect by
well-to-do liberals – has been profound.
Many Middle Americans now get a steady dose of
conservative propaganda about how twisted and immoral liberals are,
while virtually no liberal voices are out there to contest this negative
message. It should be no surprise, therefore, that tens of millions of
Americans, especially in the heartland where conservative media is even
more dominant, hate liberals and will vote for conservatives, even when
that makes no sense for the voter’s self-interest.
Another consequence is that rank-and-file liberals
feel increasingly isolated and marginalized because they find few
options on the mass-media dial. Liberals can either tune in mouthy
conservative commentators on the attack or listen to mealy-mouthed
centrist “journalists” who mostly just want to keep their jobs.
Despite the enduring myth of the “liberal media,”
articulate liberals are the group least represented on American news
shows. One of the results of this center-right imbalance was the U.S.
press corps’ shortage of skepticism about George W. Bush’s Iraq War
rationales, including false claims that Iraq possessed dangerous
stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.
As conservative columnist Paul Craig Roberts wrote
in a post-election column, “There was a time when I could rant about the
‘liberal media’ with the best of them. But in recent years, I have
puzzled over the precise location of the ‘liberal media.’
“Not so long ago, I would have identified the
liberal media as the New York Times and Washington Post, CNN and the
three TV networks, and National Public Radio. But both the Times and the
Post fell for the Bush administration’s lies about WMD and supported the
U.S. invasion of Iraq. On balance, CNN, the networks, and NPR have not
made an issue of the Bush administration’s changing explanations for the
invasion.” [See Paul Craig Roberts’s “What
Became of Conservatives,” Nov. 26, 2004.]
But there has been an encouraging backlash.
Hundreds of thousands of skeptical Americans now scour the Internet for
independent news or tune in foreign broadcasts like the BBC seeking more
objective coverage of the war and other international events.
More evidence of this demographic group, which
might be called the desperate liberals, can be found in the surprisingly
high ratings of cash-strapped media start-ups, such as Air America Radio
which has scored well in direct competition with better-funded,
better-known conservative rivals. Liberals as well as many other
independent-minded Americans appear hungry for media that speaks to
So, while today’s media landscape may appear bleak,
there is a ray of hope in the existence of a large and eager market for
alternative media. If smart investments are made now in honest
journalism and in brave outlets to distribute the information, an
audience already exists to listen, watch and read.
As for us at Consortiumnews.com, we would like to
transform our part-time operation into one that permits us to conduct
more expansive investigations and would give us the means to add audio
and video to our Web site. All of that requires money, of course, which
is why we are conducting our end-of-year fundraiser.
Our short-term goal of raising $20,000 from our
readers would allow for continuation of our Web site – now nearly a
decade old – and for some expansion. But our hope is that Americans with
financial means will recognize the national crisis in media and begin to
invest accordingly. Without a strong independent news media, there is no
way out of the political swamp where America finds itself.
We also believe that if the media investments are
done wisely, the cost-benefit ratio can continue to be impressive, with
every penny ensuring that another American gains access to important
information, which, in turn, can start the revitalization of U.S.
Without doubt, many pennies will be needed to make
this hope a reality. But there perhaps never was a moment when the old
warning against being “penny wise and pound foolish” was so true.
As part of our fund-raising drive,
Consortiumnews.com is offering free books with donations of $100 or
$250. A $100 contribution qualifies a donor for an autographed gift copy
of Robert Parry’s new book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush
Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq. With a contribution of $250 or more,
a donor can get autographed copies of three of Parry’s books: Trick
or Treason: The October Surprise Mystery; Lost History: Contras,
Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’; and Secrecy & Privilege.
Another way to help Consortiumnews.com reach its
goals is to buy a copy of Secrecy & Privilege through the
direct-sale Web site at
http://www.secrecyandprivilege.com . For each book sold at the Web
site, $2 will go to Consortiumnews.com That means the sale of only 5,000
books would get us halfway to our goal of $20,000.
In a new review of Secrecy & Privilege, the
Web site Dogskinreport.com wrote, “if Americans read a single book about
current affairs this year, Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege
should be it … As Parry’s crowbar pries open the Bush family crypt, an
entire cabal of deep power politicians and their subterranean backers
are found within.”