~~ Since the 1970's, the left has made little effort to match the right's media outreach to Americans. In the face of massive right-wing investment in messaging, progressives threw away their lead in media and think tanks by prioritizing “local organizing,” under such sloganistic homilies as, “think globally, act locally,” and increasingly "put its available money into well-intentioned projects, such as buying endangered wetlands or feeding the poor."
~~ In 2010, wealthy progressives let Air America Radio go away, rather than invest the money and talent necessary to make it a counterpoint to right-wing dominance of the AM radio dial.
This has been so successful that many journalists and progressive politicians have adopted risk-avoiding tactics and timidity in reporting and governing rather than expose themselves to the right's media Shit Machine.
A piece by respected lefty investigative reporter Robert Parry at Consortiumnews.com writes that at a December White House meeting, Obama told some assembled economists that he felt "handcuffed" by conservatives' longheld agility at rallying Americans on behalf of Reagan’s “government-is-the-problem” message. The looming problems of this century - like kick-starting job growth, rebuilding the decaying infrastructure, reforming immigration laws, creating a non-manufacturing economic base, and dealing with climate change are ones that only government can feasibly solve. Yet...
"''It was hard to change the narrative after 30 years' of Republican repetition about the evils of big government, one participant quoted Obama as saying."
Parry laid out a compelling case in 2005 that the American left made bad decisions in the 1970's as to where to put their media money and mouth; the American right made good ones, and it's paid-off real good.
Back in the '70's while the grasshopperish left was dawdling with local organizing, feel-good, but otherwise ineffective anti-globalist or environmentalist politics, the right was busy building a domestic media infrastructure.
The Right concentrated on gaining control of the information flows in Washington and on building a media infrastructure that would put out a consistent conservative message across the country. As part of this strategy, the Right also funded attack groups to target mainstream journalists who got in the way of the conservative agenda.
So, while the Right waged what it called “the war of ideas” and expanded the reach of conservative media to every corner of the nation, the Left trusted that local political action would reenergize American democracy.
We can only point to Seattle. For over 18 years, a growling, snapping, 3.5 conservative radio stations organized, and loudly spewed the consistent, national right-wing line (KVI, KTTH, KKOL, about half of KIRO, and bits of KOMO) to Puget Sound listeners, long a progressive stronghold.
They didn't win the day -- it could even be argued they lost the war -- they're almost extinct these days. But while rarely having winning candidates, they had some significant political wins: They played a huge part in inventing and reanimating anti-tax Golem Tim Eyman; KVI's Kirby Wilbur nationally embarrassed Hillary Clinton in a demonstration on the streets of Seattle over health care; the 1994 Republican wave even swept this state and King county, and talk radio had a hand; Wilbur and John Carlson won an important (to the right) state supreme court decision about the right to do political operations on the air; Wilbur, Carlson, Peter Weissbach, Dave Boze and Mike Siegel gave knees-up to many conservative intitiatives and helped push this state into the revenue corner it's in.
Media here, ignored "hot talk," though it was a force with to contend with for many years, despite it framed many local issues.
The Democrats, and the progressive moneybags in Seattle ignored building or supporting local progressive media that might counter the right-wing swine. The city's second, and more liberal paper was shuttered by its corporate masters, nothing rose in its place.
Local lefties assembled and blew hard over the last 20 years with teach-ins, peace potlucks, and the WTO protests, the message of which was subsumed like candy from babies by nihilistic anarchists. It ended in grubby intra-city squabbling about police brutality and not much else - certainly no high-minded and lasting political movement.
We're not hopeful that much will change ... and neither is Parry:
While continuing to do little about its media deficit, the Left accuses Obama of failing to use his bully pulpit. Simultaneously, Obama – seeing no effective counterweight on the Left to the Right’s media power – shies away from what he fears would be a political suicide mission.