Promoting Ideas

Danny Goldberg, former CEO of Air America, writes about the demise of the network, and how this contrasts with conservative talk radio. Excerpt,

“Conservatives believe in doing whatever it takes to promote their ideas. … In 1976 Rupert Murdoch bought the New York Post and it has lost money every year since–the total loss estimated to be more than half a billion dollars.
In 1983, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon created the Washington Times, which has also lost money every year. Widely published reports place Moon’s losses at over $1 billion on the Times and other political media including a purchase of the venerable wire service UPI. These money-losing properties have put dozens of conservatively slanted stories onto the national radar screen, altered the framing of every important political issue and nurtured virtually every right-wing pundit who now thrives as a TV talking head.
More recently, Phillip Anschutz bought the money-losing Weekly Standard from Murdoch and announced plans to invest in more conservative media. Meanwhile his fellow billionaire and former Republican Treasury Secretary Pete Petersen started a digital news service called the Fiscal Times.”
He goes on to talk about the influence of talk radio,
“One-hundred-thirty-eight million people commute to and from work in automobiles, where they have no access to computer or TV screens. For around a third of them, or 48 million, AM talk radio is their entertainment of choice. Of the top 10 AM talk radio shows, nine are hosted by extreme conservatives, giving the right wing a captive audience of around 40 million listeners a week–at least seven times greater than the combined audiences of Fox News, CNN and MSNBC.”
Also about how this helps boost the “Tea Party Movement”
“It was not preordained that all of the millions of people who identify with the Tea Party movement would believe the conservative narrative that the economic ills afflicting the middle class are the result of liberalism. But given that tens of millions of them had no alternative explanations or solutions, it is not surprising that conservative ideas and candidates are ascendant.”
And finally the key point,
“Instead, most of today’s progressives spent the last year talking to themselves while conservatives convinced millions of people that global warming is a hoax, that torture is required to keep America safe, that non-millionaires in Canada and Europe have worse health care than their American counterparts. The right wing could never have convinced 45 percent of Americans that the Democrats wanted “death panels” if their outreach was limited to Sarah Palin’s Facebook page and the three million people a night who watch Fox’s highest-rated shows.”
By and large, Progressives talk to each other, while conservatives talk to the public.  However, Speak Out California‘s mission is to reach out to the public through the Internet, op-eds, radio and TV interviews, speaking engagements and other means.  Other California progressive organizations have a mission of reaching people as well. Courage Campaign currently works primarily through the Internet.  Others, like Organizing for America/California and Democracy for America, work on voter engagement.
Until we persuade our legislative leaders that we’ve got their backs, they’re going to continue doing things–like capitulating to suspending the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and other important state environmental laws that protect the public health and the beauty of natural resources.  There will be lots more capitulation this year as well, unfortunately, and from the top down. We’re already seeing it in the President’s sharp veering to the right after the Massachusetts election and we sense the same fear and uncertainty swelling in Sacramento.
Unless we put some resources into building a competitive messaging machine and create a megaphone that reaches out beyond our own ears, the state of California will continue to veer to the destructive “right” and we’ll all be blaming “left” politics for it.

One thought on “Promoting Ideas

  1. I am a conservative and usually don’t agree with much of what you say, however, on this matter I have a different opinion. I hope you read it. I listened to Air America quite a bit. Maybe from a sense of “know your enemeny”?
    What really struck me about Air America was just really how bad it was from an entertainment standpoint. Randy Rhodes would get on a rant how “Bush stole the election.” Cool, except it was 2006. I was bored on hearing this absolutely same rant litterally every time she was on the air. Give me a break. Olberman is not much better. I can predict with astonishing accuracy that every show will have: 1. a five minute rant on how stupid Sarah Pahlin is, 2. a five minute rant on Bill O’Reilly and how he is “the worst person in America”. Not a bit of originality.
    If you listen to the right, they have some interesting parodies, and, guess what, they don’t agree with all the republicans. The right is at least entertaining, and that is part of what radio is supposed to be. Rush is loose with the facts but his parodies (from paul shanklin) are absolutely hilarious (the last one was “everything is Bush’s fault” sung to “everything is beutiful” in Obama’s voice – it was good, funny, and deliciously ironic. Listen to Olbermann’s rant on Scott Brown, he call him a homophobe, a rascist, and mysoginist. Just listening to a guy call someone names is boring).
    The left needs to learn that. Radio is not just ranting, it is entertainment. But, this is not really that surprizing. If you look into people like Rush, Hugh Hewit, etc. you find that they came up through the media and it shows. they are polished and effective.

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