Thursday, December 31, 2015

This Ain’t a Scene: It’s a God Damn Arms Race

Just imagine how different the world would be if the Catholic Church had had the foresight to just buy the Boston Globe outright.

Well, while the American Fascist Party continues to attract hoopla and horror on the national stage...

...down below the radar, deep inside America's Laboratories of Democracy, while the institutional Left continues to lose ground and throw nickles around like manhole covers, the Right continues to spend whatever it takes to control the means of of message production.

From the Lincoln Courier:
Illinois News Network buying Illinois Radio Network

By Bernard Schoenburg

Posted Dec. 28, 2015 at 1:25 PM
Updated Dec 29, 2015 at 11:08 AM

The Illinois News Network, a media arm of the Illinois Policy Institute, is acquiring the Illinois Radio Network, which has reporters in Springfield and Chicago and provides news reports to stations throughout the state, including WTAX-AM in Springfield.

“We are thrilled to have Illinois Radio Network becoming a part of INN,” said John Tillman, CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute, in a news release. “Both organizations have a history of promoting transparency and accountability in government. And we look forward to continuing that fine tradition.”

IRN is being acquired from Saga Communications Inc., which will continue to own WTAX and other Capitol Radio Group stations in Springfield.

Mike Lawrence, a longtime Statehouse reporter who became former GOP Gov. Jim Edgar’s press secretary and is retired from being director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, called the sale an “unfortunate development.”

“The Illinois Policy Institute ... is a group that has a very definite ideological agenda, and I would be surprised if it did anything else other than to advance that agenda through its newly acquired operation,” Lawrence said...
As I mentioned in February, the INN started out life as the propaganda arm of another well-funded Koch Brothers front group with deep roots in all the usual, radical Hobbsean madness to which all those groups swear allegiance (Hail Hydra!).  Thank to the financial backing of crackpot Right-wing billionaires (including $625,000 from Governor Hedgefund since 2009) the IPI has been able to focus on cranking out free ALEC/wingnut "content" and white papers for newspapers to pad out the empty places where journalism used to be before they started laying reporters off in droves.

Then, after Governor Hedgefund was sworn in, he turned to his pals at the IPI to help him staff his administration and enact the terrible policies about which they had been dreaming for years:
Rauner administration hires three from Illinois Policy Institute
And now the circle is complete: the Koch brothers Illinois Conservative propaganda outlet will finally own it's distribution network.

Happy 2016, citizens!


D. said...

"Hail Hydra," indeed.

bowtiejack said...

Just to stomp all over Godwin's Law again, I don't think it's widely known but by the end Hitler owned most of the press and publishers in Germany. I don't mean the Nazis, I mean Hitler personally thru what today would today be blind trusts. I'm travelling right now, so I can't put my hands on my references, but here's a taste of how important the proto-fascists thought press control was :

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

(1) In the USA, it would be more accurate to call "the Institutional Left" by the name of "the Institutional Center", or even "the Institutional Rational Right".

(2) The Institutional Irrational Right has many, many more nickels to throw around.

To accomplish anything useful, the tiny actual Left in the USA would need to find some way to prevail which does not require giant horse-choking wads of money.

It would also need to find some way to persuade a thumping majority of us peasants that small-d democratic socialism is not Teh Evil.

Does anyone know how those things could be done?

Neo Tuxedo said...

It would also need to find some way to persuade a thumping majority of us peasants that small-d democratic socialism is not Teh Evil.

Does anyone know how those things could be done?

In theory, but Asahina's time machine can't go any further back than the Tanabata when Haruhi recreated the world, so that window's closed.

Jimbo said...

After Jabba the Casino Hut bought the biggest Nevadan paper in a trending blue state, we have the right-wing WaPo OpEd page editor, the always wrong Fred Hiatt firing the only left of center opinion writer, Harold Meyerson whose work is always good old fashioned solid, based-on-factual reporting as opposed to the ideological garbage of the overwhelming RW opinion writers on that page. This isn't Bezos; Hiatt was a full-throated Iraq War fan boy. I guess the real question is whether buying print media matters that much in today's Internet and multimedia information environment. It most definitely does not matter to Millennials and most Gen X-ers. So that leaves Boomers and Real Oldsters who are pretty much set in their views by this point. So, buying a dying reporting channel allows them to control what is defined as news on that channel, which is something, I guess and does challenge liberals and lefties to develop alternative information sources.

Habitat Vic said...

Ivory Bill,

And speaking of "Teh Evil" of democratic socialism, Fred Hiatt of the Washington Post today fired columnist Harold Meyerson - Happy New Year! Ostensibly, the reason given was that Meyerson's online clicks were lower than some of the other columnists, though Fred's email exchange after the firing (email firing on New Years Eve? talk about gutless coward of a manager) also mentioned Meyerson's "too frequent emphasis on unions & Germany." And yes, Meyerson described himself as small-d democratic socialist along with touting unions, OWS, Sanders, European universal healthcare, etc.

So, there goes the most progressive "lefty" from the Washington Post editorial staff. Not like there's any increase in Progressive in the country political climate, have to keep George Will on staff - its what America wants to hear, dontchyaknow.

Politico has details (including via belated update, the emails about unions), but I'm not linking to those shitheads.

Robt said...

The comforting feeling of removing a blood sucking tick off your body is how I feel of leaving behind the 2015 GOP.

Yet an uneasiness of entering an unknown 2016, the GOP may linger as the blood sucking ticks head is still burrowed in you chewing.

happy New Year

Glen Tomkins said...

I don't worry about openly radical right-wingers buying media. It will complete the process of disabusing everyone of the idea of the media as any sort of honest broker.

The ideal of journalism as some sort of disinterested honest broker was only sustainable during that hiatus when we only had one party in this country, the New Deal Democrats. After they couldn't beat Truman with Dewey (himself a rather New Dealish figure), the Rs were pretty much taken over by folks who would have been New Deal Ds if not for the perceived need to keep two parties viable (why Eisenhower agreed to run as an R), and/or the opportunity to bypass Ds senior in the party by running as a RINO (e.g., Nixon getting his start in politics). There were no real ideological differences at stake, as you couldn't win nationally unless you were was pro-union, pro-anti-trust, pro-social insurance, etc. -- basically unless you were a social democrat. So of course journalism could seem to most of us to be objective, because it was enforcing standards of seriousness that only had to look to one, reality-based, view of public policy, the social democratic view. Journalists didn't feel any need to pretend that the Klan or Birchers had views that needed to be treated as anything but crank beliefs.

Of course the actual Rs could still win elections some places, a field of play that got a lot bigger after the Ds ceded the segregationist franchise to the Rs. And they always had ideologues who never accepted any sort of social democratic consensus. Of course these people perceived the media of the time as being horribly biased in favor of a what they thought of as a liberal orthodoxy.

As the people who would have been consigned to the Bircher and Klan fringe in the age of consensus came more and more out of the closet and have now taken back their party from the RINOs, of course they were going to create their own media with its own unique take on reality. And of course, because true Republicanism is the ideology of the owners, the owners of all media were always going to end up going over to the anti-social-democracy camp, and they were going to drag their media possessions with them. Whether its owners whose politics was already Klan/Bircher buying up formerly social democratic media, or owners of such media themselves gradually dragging their possessions along with them as they evolve towards the party that serves the owners (e.g., the folks who own the NYT), the end was always going to be the same.

Big, organized, worth-it-to-own media was always going to end up serving the owners. The only difference between now and 50 years ago is that the owners finally have a viable national party back. Of course the media owners are going to use their media possessions to further their political interests.

People trying to figure out what was going on in their world were never really safe relying on the media. Even in what we tend to think of as some sort of golden age when the media all suffered from that well-known bias that reality has towards social democracy, consensus often meant blind conformity to false principles. IF Stone found it necessary to end-run a media that was as lock-step irrationally anti-communist as the Teahadists are anti-Islam today.

Today, the IF Stone way is the only way left. Any media organization worth owning is going to be hopelessly biased towards the owners.

driftglass said...

Management Announcement:

Incessant thread-bitching from Sitting On My Ass HQ about the impossibility of any constructive action because The Great Big Conspiracy Is Too Great And Big is over. No more comments of that type will be published because I am completely sick of hearing whiners who apparently have an infinite amount of time and energy to devote to the cause of declaring the uselessness of all things.

Take your inexhaustibly single-minded focus on preaching the gospel of impotence and start your own blog.

It's free.

Adam Scanniello said...

Aw man I was just going to put forth my well documented truth that dick clark ruined rock and roll

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

@Adam: Just be patient. Our host goes in and out of these disciplinarian phases.

John MacCuish said...

I'm with Management on this one. I hate hand-wringing, sky is falling pronouncements. This is a wonderful time for Librals. We get to watch the wholesale destruction of the party of Jesse Helms, the genuine repudiation of the mainstream media, and the undeniable revulsion expressed by the general public towards lunatic, out of touch plutocrats. Conservatives are spending money like drunken sailors, often at one another, but also for a dying cause. Theirs is, as Brother Pierce succinctly put it just yesterday, " attempt to control the new demographics with the old privileges." Na gonna happen. Sure, there are smallish portions of the electorate that are completely crazy, racist, ignorant, but who cares -- the demographics are against them and they will inherit the dustbin. Voters will crush the Republicans this year, and Republicans will wonder how the heck, Sanders or Clinton are in the White House after they thought they had bought it for sure.