Journalists Say Better Media Funding Can Contest Rightwing ‘Quagmire of Lies’

by | Nov 18, 2022 | News

A major factor to success during political elections stems from coverage on news and social media, which is why comprehensive election reporting is essential to healthy democracy. Though Democrats gained unexpected victories during the midterms, according to media critics, the GOP’s commanding influence on media continues allowing it to disseminate propaganda and disinformation.

Journalist and California DNC member David Atkins recently argued on Twitter that the big money of the liberal left “has allowed social media to become a right-wing toxic waste pool,” just as it did for AM radio, local newspapers, and TV news.

“You cannot cede the information space and hope to succeed,” Atkins said, further explaining that the left has the money to compete in media, but instead focuses on overfunding Senate races by tens of millions of dollars.

Parker Molloy, journalist and writer of The Present Age newsletter, agreed that the right has essentially “unlimited funding for information-related projects. There’s just nothing at all like it on the left.” And while rightwing voices call out supposed “liberal bias” across media, Molloy said that outlets given that label — including CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today — “are mainstream outlets, and they publish a range of right to center-left things.”

Molloy said the left needs funding for information projects because “the right uses its (again, extremely well-funded) media infrastructure to set narratives.”  And in a more haphazard than targeted instance, Elon Musk’s Twitter purchase represents a flood of conservative money rushing into social media.

Conservative agendas have grown to dominate media because of the left “refusing to grasp that we are in an information war,” Atkins said, whereas the right has known as much for decades.

It isn’t enough to deliver a speech, hope a major outlet covers it, and expect readers made the right choice because of it. “That’s for losers,” said Atkins. Politicians have to develop the infrastructure to push their narratives and accept that offering the truth over lies isn’t enough.

A key difference between these approaches emerges in “wedge” issues, Molloy explained. CNN might publish one accurate report on a subject, then move on from it when there’s nothing more newsworthy to cover. “Meanwhile, if The Federalist or Fox News or The Daily Wire want to spend two weeks straight running content targeting a specific story or issue, they can (and often do).”

For example, in 2019 Democrats announced the Green New Deal resolution. This 14-page proposal aimed to set goals to inform future legislation that would curb greenhouse gas emissions and the worst effects of climate change. The following day, right-wing media began lying about its nature and contents.

Fox & Friends falsely claimed the GND would abolish airplanes and cars. Molloy said Sean Hannity treated it “as a legitimate existential threat to the U.S.” Fox & Friends fabricated a plan to “build trains across oceans,” which various rightwing media subsequently shared. Meanwhile, outlets such as CNN and MSNBC aired fewer segments on the proposal and attempted “balanced” coverage for pro- and anti-GND voices.

When the proposal’s newsworthiness ran dry for CNN, Fox continued re-hashing debunked claims in a cycle of articles and interviews that ensured Republicans heard “a lot” about the GND. Molloy emphasized that there is no parallel to this on the left.

Atkins warned that rightwing dictatorships thrive through media control, and that even as the right loses “the battle for the culture of the country,” it approaches a complete lockdown on news and social media.

Proper media funding from the left, Atkins said, will provide a fairer playing field such that politicians on the left won’t have to dump a funds into Senate races. He concluded, “Every election cycle we fight uphill in a quagmire of lies. We don’t have to.”



Photo by dole777 on Unsplash.


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