Nation Writer: Media Refuse to Report That Right-Wingers and Their Money Are Ruining Politics

According to The Nation columnist Eric Alterman, prominent journalists tend to realize that most Republicans are “ideological extremists” whose agenda, dictated by “the super-wealthy,” warps our politics. The problem, he added, is that the news stories those journalists write don’t reflect that realization.

Instead, argued Alterman in a piece for the magazine’s May 18 issue, “even our best reporters feel the need to put forth a fairy-tale narrative in which the United States enjoys a fully functioning democracy…When you consider that far-right billionaires like Sheldon Adelson and Charles and David Koch have the power to demand that presidential aspirants pledge fealty to their ideological preferences and financial interests, the notion that our laws represent the collective will of the American people appears comical at best.”

From Alterman’s column (bolding added):

American political life revolves around two mutually reinforcing truths. The first is that our democracy has been severely corrupted by money; the second is that the conservative movement, and hence the Republican Party, is dominated by ideological extremists who demonstrate zero interest in the problems of actual governance. Taken together, these truths not only define our political debate; they ensure that virtually nothing is decided on its merits—up to and including our national elections.

Catch a bigfoot journalist or pundit at a social event or private gathering, and he or she will likely admit these truths. Scan the editorials and opinion pages of most major newspapers, and you’ll see the power of money decried on a fairly regular basis. But in the news stories, where it matters most, even our best reporters feel the need to put forth a fairy-tale narrative in which the United States enjoys a fully functioning democracy and our elections and laws accurately represent the genuine will of the people…

…Take, for example, a recent [New York Times] story by Neil Irwin…When [Irwin] notes that taxes on the wealthy have fallen in the past decade…[he] and his editors don’t appear to think it worth mentioning that fewer than 1 percent of Americans contribute more than 80 percent of the campaign funding for the politicians who write these laws…[T]he top five zip codes of Manhattan’s Upper East Side—home to countless Wall Street tycoons—contribute more money than the residents of 39 states combined. And when you consider that far-right billionaires like Sheldon Adelson and Charles and David Koch have the power to demand that presidential aspirants pledge fealty to their ideological preferences and financial interests, the notion that our laws represent the collective will of the American people appears comical at best. Neil Irwin knows this, yet he writes his…analysis from the point of view of a naive child who has never heard the words Citizens United or seen an episode of The Daily Show

A similar game of “Where’s Waldo?” can be played with a recent Times story about the House vote to repeal the estate tax…

…[T]he beneficiaries of an estate-tax repeal would be the wealthiest 0.1 percent of Americans, whose estates will generate nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars in revenue between 2016 and 2025…[Times reporter Peter Baker] fails to note how frequently the Republicans attempt to slash far smaller expenditures when the poor and working class are likely to benefit. Nor does he note that the folks who would benefit most from the estate tax’s repeal are the very same people whose massive donations to the Republican Party, its candidates, its political-action committees, and its alleged educational arms determine its agenda. This is an agenda, one might add, that is exclusively dominated by the interests of the super-wealthy—science, economics, and often even reality be damned.

Campaigns & Elections Campaign Financing Congress Media Bias Debate Bias by Omission Conservatives & Republicans The Nation Eric Alterman


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