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

Comments

Legend 2 weeks 6 days ago
#1

You do have a choice as to what you watch or listen to. I cannot stand Fox and its brain washing techniques. I do like MSNBC and its factual reporting. Prove me wrong if you object. It is more a matter of the choice of the listener. It is not just me that has the ability to see that Rush Limbaugh is a big fat liar. But this country has an incredible number of gullible voters.

djgilbert 2 weeks 6 days ago
#2

There are enough capable donors on the progressive side. It is time for them to help out. There needs to be a broad and deep progressive team representing the interests of 21st Century citizens.

This cannot be a rerun of the DLC, which ended up recycling many of the pieces from the non-progressives.

Legend 2 weeks 5 days ago
#3

During the 2016 campaign I worked the Bernie campaign during the primary and then the Hillary campaign as an anybody other than Trump supporter. I did computer data input. Because of this I saw the results of the work. Phone banking is seriously poor and they will not admit to it. With caller ID people do not answer phones if they do not recognize the number. I do not either. I even have an app that recognizes phone spam. So you have a very limited number that you actually contact. This could partially explain the large gap between the polls and the final results. Or there is some serious cheating going on. We need an explanation because polls and results were terrible this election.

Does 50 states and 50 different methods and rules work? Seems like you could come up with a national standard. With computers and bar code readers why are we hand counting and taking days to get results? Alaska must be delivering ballots by dog sled. It is at 47% counted.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 2 weeks 5 days ago
#4

Chris Hayes interviewed a pair of humbled pollsters on MSNBC's special election coverage tonight who were contemplating their navels trying to understand why the polls were so wrong. Greg Palast is no doubt all over this, but what if the polls were not that far outside their normal margins of error -- that is, in a perfect world where we conducted free and fair elections and every vote counted?

The unaccounted-for gap between what the long-trending polling averages indicated ahead of time and the mysterious "final" results reported after the polls closed could be a reflection of the degree of election fraud and voter disenfranchisement taking place behind the scenes. Since a record number of people voted absentee in this age of pandemic, perhaps the glaring discrepancy in pre-election polling is a better indicator of the infamous "red shift" than what normally reliable exit-polling has shown in the past.

There really is a huge blue wave breaking right now, but that's what it takes to overcome the equally huge wall of fraud erected by Republicans, never mind the Russians. There was a lot of carnage along the way just to reach a point to barely squeak by. Maybe it doesn't feel like it, but that's a truly great achievement in the uphill battle against fascism.

How many ballots didn't have a chance to factor into the so-called "totals" because they weren't delivered on time due to an average 30 % slowdown of mail in the swing states just in time (naturally) for the election? For instance, could Florida have flipped and decided the ultimate outcome early in the evening had the Post Office mailed all the ballots on time in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach -- the biggest cache of Democratic votes?

How many legally registered voters have been unknowingly knocked off the rolls, or whose original ballots were rejected for frivolous reasons, and who will fail to "cure" their provisional ballots in time so that they can actually be counted? How many gave up standing in a brutal eight-hour line, also giving up their right to vote, for which their ancestors bled and died?

Pick any swing state and analyze their unexpectedly tight races in light of the widely unreported Republican war on voting, manifesting in many forms. Evidently, the pollsters are mostly ignoring this critical data input, which is badly skewing their models in the real world.

alis volat's picture
alis volat 2 weeks 5 days ago
#5

Absolutely nailed the problem with the airwaves, Thom, but then you are an expert.

Trump has had a ball lying and taught his cult followers well. You know they will not answer polls honestly. Just watch C-Span. Every other caller on the Dems line says they are lifelong Dems that have decided to vote for Trump. It's so obvious it's just bull-shit.

Leslie Jones just told Seth this tension is like waiting for the results of your STD test. Ha!

Marnie Cook's picture
Marnie Cook 2 weeks 5 days ago
#6

MSNBC does a pretty decent job, but they need to get rid of the likes of Chuck Todd. I did not appreciate him calling Indiana. That was so irresponsible. I thought his "reading" of the polls on election night did not seem to be based in any reality. He spent a lot of time proposing "if Trump wins this state and this state and this state"...and then he left them all red for hours.

I have a problem with him anyway, talks to fast, mumbles, NEVER finishes a sentence, interrupts his guests just as they are finally making their point.

Marnie Cook's picture
Marnie Cook 2 weeks 5 days ago
#7

I myself was the news director of a local radio station, which used to carry your show. They also carried/carry the Limbaugh/Hannity propaganda programming bloc. The station owner loved to talk about how fair and balanced his news/talk station was.

Fair? A portion of the Thom Hartmann show was pre-recorded and aired weekdays at 6p. Portions and often the whole show was pre-empted by the sports shows in the Fall, and other programming year-round, while the propaganda programming was NEVER pre-empted. Do the math. The propaganda programming aired prime hours 10a-4p for a total of 36 hours a week. Compared to the opposite viewpoint aired when listening is very low, often pre-empted. So, even if TH was airing without pre-emption, it would have been considerably less, about 12-18 hours. Generally, it was 12 hours or less per week.

I didn't mention that Laura also aired as did George Noory. So, the propaganda programming extended to every day part.

I was let go last November when the station was sold, I think because I wanted to get some staff and we could be a real news contender. Plus, I was insistent that something be done about the propaganda programming. Besides, you can not think that you are going to run news rooms with one or two people doing all the work. I had no help and got overwhelmed. The new owners, good Catholics ya know, don't mind at all the money they've been making airing Limbaugh on their group of stations across the state.

seleyrn's picture
seleyrn 2 weeks 5 days ago
#8

I have felt for years that the Democratic party dropped the ball for the middle class. They stood by while the GOP took over state and local offices and judgeships. Now here we are, strggling to remain relevant. And I believe the Right Wing hate media has brainwashed a major section of the electorate. It has happened in my own family and I am having trouble even remaining cordial to those people. But that is their plan divide and conquer, They got the divide down. but we can't let them conquer. Thanks for all you do Thom. I have learned so much from listening to you on Sirius radio, and watching of Free Speech TV. There is usually something I want to learn more about so I do some online searching for the answers.

seleyrn's picture
seleyrn 2 weeks 5 days ago
#9

I have felt for years that the Democratic party dropped the ball for the middle class. They stood by while the GOP took over state and local offices and judgeships. Now here we are, strggling to remain relevant. And I believe the Right Wing hate media has brainwashed a major section of the electorate. It has happened in my own family and I am having trouble even remaining cordial to those people. But that is their plan divide and conquer, They got the divide down. but we can't let them conquer. Thanks for all you do Thom. I have learned so much from listening to you on Sirius radio, and watching of Free Speech TV. There is usually something I want to learn more about so I do some online searching for the answers.

Legend 2 weeks 5 days ago
#10

I have said for years that there are countless numbers of people that are Republicans that should be Democrats. I fully understand that if you are in the 1% that you might want to be Republican. The Republican Party only works for the 1%. If you are not in the 1% you should be in the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party has always been for the 99%. And what is with Black Male voters voting for Trump? Not to mention Lantino's. The Republican Party brings in voters with a few key issues. Guns, abortion and socialism. Hope that Republicans enjoyed watching so called militia's waving assault rifles on the streets. The genie is now out of the bottle and you will see a lot more of it. I am sure the vote counters needed the gun toting protestors outside the door demanding to get in yesterday. Roe v Wade is now 50 years old. Republicans want to protect the rights of a fetus but not a child. They use keywords like Socialism a billion times and make it a scare word. 20 years ago it was LIBERAL. Yes our roads, libraries, schools, military and many many other things are socialistic. Nobody is proposing to make Apple a state run company. What is it when Trump hands out billions in subsidies to farmers, SOCIALISM.

Deepspace, Karl Rove joined the Trump Campaign as sort of an undercover consultant. He is the master of the vote change.

hljmesa's picture
hljmesa 2 weeks 5 days ago
#11

Legend, Good thoughts, except subsidies are corporate welfare, and the small farmer gets little of it.. Socialism is for the benefit of all, public education, military, fire stations, roads, etc.. And I too, cannot understand minorities voting for a bigot...

hljmesa's picture
hljmesa 2 weeks 5 days ago
#12

Marnie Cook, Thanks for sharing, you did the right thing but those in power only see dollar signs.. It's where we are..unfortunately..

Legend 2 weeks 5 days ago
#13

Republicans seem to really like crowd chanting. They should be chanting lock Trump up. He is robbing them blind.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 2 weeks 5 days ago
#14

Looks like Biden's got this. Looks like Trump's last-ditch strategy of only counting his votes is being laughed out of court. Now comes the fun part.

Riverplunge's picture
Riverplunge 2 weeks 5 days ago
#15

The fair use law which gave each side a chance to equally show their views - gone.

The law that kept private ownership of broadcasting stations - gone.

Don't believe me? Read it: https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/fccs-review-broadcast-ownership-rules

Excerpt: Cable channels - Gone.

From 1970 to 2002, the FCC enforced the Cable/Broadcast Cross-Ownership (CBCO) Rule, which prohibited a cable system from owning broadcast TV stations in its own market.

vinny813 2 weeks 2 days ago
#16

Someone pass the word out that if Trump refuses to leave office in 2021, we must ensure that the Dem Senators and House's who lost their re-election will ALSO refuse to leave office come Jan 2021.

We Must play ball on their turf.

FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE!!

Senators refuse to leave and Congress refuse!!

PLease pass the word!.

vetinla's picture
vetinla 2 weeks 1 day ago
#17

@ 16; Exactly!!

Veterans day is coming, the blurbs will be endless. We need to honor our vets, by ending our endless wars to protect fortune 500 companies right's to global hegemony.

catfur 2 weeks 10 hours ago
#18

Here's what's really stupid. I have pen in hand, ready to donate checks to Georgia Senate races but the only option on ACTBLUE or BlackVotesMatter is PAYPAL. Stupid.

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From Cracking the Code:
"Thom Hartmann ought to be bronzed. His new book sets off from the same high plane as the last and offers explicit tools and how-to advice that will allow you to see, hear, and feel propaganda when it's directed at you and use the same techniques to refute it. His book would make a deaf-mute a better communicator. I want him on my reading table every day, and if you try one of his books, so will you."
Peter Coyote, actor and author of Sleeping Where I Fall
From Unequal Protection, 2nd Edition:
"Beneath the success and rise of American enterprise is an untold history that is antithetical to every value Americans hold dear. This is a seminal work, a godsend really, a clear message to every citizen about the need to reform our country, laws, and companies."
Paul Hawken, coauthor of Natural Capitalism and author of The Ecology of Commerce
From Cracking the Code:
"In Cracking the Code, Thom Hartmann, America’s most popular, informed, and articulate progressive talk show host and political analyst, tells us what makes humans vulnerable to unscrupulous propagandists and what we can do about it. It is essential reading for all Americans who are fed up with right-wing extremists manipulating our minds and politics to promote agendas contrary to our core values and interests."
David C. Korten, author of The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community and When Corporations Rule the World and board chair of YES! magazine