Democrats Have to Get Smart About Media and Messaging

Thom plus logo There's a reason this election is this close. The old saying is, "Own the media, own the country," and this election proves it true.

Democrats have been totally stupid when it comes to the information wars. While Republicans built an enormous national "talk to people all day, every day, all year" media infrastructure, Democrats only pour money into advertising once every four years.

In the 1970s and 1980s, conservatives began building out an intellectual infrastructure to seize control of the political narratives in America.

They started think tanks to promote trickle down economics, tax cuts for the rich, and the deregulation of polluting and banking industries.

Those conservative think tanks over the years have produced an unending stream of articles, books, and newspaper columns, and actively work every day to put up websites and edit public-source information sites to their favor.

Their wealthy conservative allies bought and consolidated radio and television networks across the country, which they've expanded in the last decade to Spanish language stations as well.

The Democratic effort to build out media was Air America Radio, which helped deliver a victory to Barack Obama in 2008. Two years later, Democratic funders declared victory and abandoned the network; it died in 2010. Now, only conservative talk radio is heard in more than 90% of America.

They lobbied Facebook and Google to get those two companies to change their algorithms to promote rightwing sites while blocking progressive websites and publications. The effort was so successful it has built multimillion dollar rightwing online media empires, while kneecapping progressive sites like Mother Jones and Alternet.

If Democrats don't get their media and intellectual infrastructure act together, the hard-right narrative being promoted by America's most toxic media will continue to swing elections across the country.

-Thom

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