You can’t have a functioning democracy without a trusted media. That fact explains the state of U.S. democracy, at least in part. The United States has the lowest rate of media trust in the industrialized world, with just under a third of respondents in a 2020 Reuters poll saying they trust the media they consume. But whose fault is it? And, is the media even trustworthy? A string of failures suggest otherwise: weapons of mass destruction, the global financial crisis, Brexit, Russiagate, and plenty more. This week on Darts and Letters, we talk to two media critics about the shortcomings of the fourth estate.
- First (@4:26), did Donald Trump break the brains of liberal journalists? Is hyper-partisanship a problem? Michael Tracey is an independent journalist on Substack sometimes called a “left heretic,” and he’s been calling out liberal orthodoxies around surveillance, censorship, and hysterical forms of anti-Trumpism. We discuss how the media changed during the Trump era, how it didn’t, and what that means. Oh, also, how Tom Morello and the New York Times are…WRITING IN THE NAME OF!!
- Then (@33:52), it’s the political economy, stupid. Robert McChesney says cost-cutting and corporate conglomeration explain hyper-partisan elite media; because it’s cheaper for FOX and MSNBC to create political entertainment than to do actual reporting. McChesney is Research Professor in the Institute of Communications Research and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He’s also the author of several books criticizing corporate media. He pursues a structural critique of the media that interrogates the values that journalists internalize and the range of debate journalists enable — or don’t — based on the owners of media, and the economic incentives that drive them.
——————-FURTHER READING AND LISTENING——————
- Visit Michael Tracey’s Substack and sign up to read his work. Also, consider following him on Twitter to get a perspective you might not find elsewhere.
- Head over to Robert McChesney’s homepage and dig into his work, including his many books, such as Rich Media, Poor Democracy, Dollarocracy: How the Money-and-Media Election Complex is Destroying America and The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again.
- Plus, visit Free Press, the national media reform organization that McChesney co-founded.
We’re excited to share that we’re now officially a part of the Harbinger Media Network. Harbinger is home to several left-wing podcasts in Canada, including Alberta Advantage, Nora Loreto’s Take Back the Fight, and Paris Marx’s Tech Won’t Save Us.
——————-SUPPORT THE SHOW————————-
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This is a production of Cited Media. And we are backed by academic grants that support mobilizing research and democratizing the concept of public intellectualism. The founding academic advisor of the program is Professor Allen Sens at the University of British Columbia.
Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples.