Originally published: September 16, 2009
Last updated: September 16, 2009 - 9:13pm
[Commentary] Can you smell the fear? Switch on cable news or tune in to talk radio and it comes wafting in. Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck has bottled his own scent. Lou Dobbs' fear gives off a distinct undertone of racial intolerance. And Rush Limbaugh takes to the air to spread an odor that's designed to make Americans angry at, well, other Americans. It's a fear that's laced with paranoia, stoked by misinformation and prejudice and fed to millions of people via powerful media. But most of all, it's a fear of the changes that an overwhelming majority of Americans called for when they stepped into voting booths last November. Since then, the old guard has fallen into alignment with old media to hijack the public debate over reform, and vilify reformers as anti-American. And to them the most anti-American notion of the lot is the idea that we need to reform the media itself. The ultimate irony of Beck, Dobbs and Limbaugh is that they couch in populist rhetoric a message that, in its very essence, is anti-populist -- designed to protect the swindle at the core of our media system's failure. And that is why the media's old guard is targeting the idea that this system needs to change. In his media and technology agenda, President Obama took up the cause of reform by committing to "diversity in the ownership of broadcast media," and pledging to "promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints." Obama is right, but he needs to get started on fulfilling that commitment. Winning real change and giving more people a media voice is ultimately the best response we have to fear campaigns.
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