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May 4, 2005

Talk About It

-- by Dave Johnson

I was JUST sitting down to write a post about how I have realized I just don't watch cable TV news anymore, when I saw this at DailyKos: Extending the debate. The post talks about Steve Gilliard's post News is news. Steve writes,

If CNN basically covers this story all Saturday, it's news. It's not a debate. It is news, and malaria isn't. Instead of wishing it wasn't news, we need to subvert it. We need to discuss it in wider terms, class, race, sex. We need to bring depth to the debate. I mean this story gets weirder by the day. But if you don't engage it, bring different perspectives to it, the media gets away clean again. When people say "you don't cover this story" people think "liberal whiner". If they want to talk about runaway brides, let's talk about runaway brides, but intelligently, questioning the sex roles of men and women and the economic cost and pressure in a large wedding. There is fertile ground for smart people, but they have to seize the target and change the debate.

One of the great tricks of conservative pundits was to talk about ANY topic. No matter what it was, they had an opinion, got face time and then book deals. They saw this as fertile ground to extend the debate. We have to engage these issues and bring new perspectives on them.

Good for Steve! The Right's strategy has been to talk about everything in terms of their underlying ideology. Everything comes back to market solutions, etc. And that is what we need to do, too. We need to explain everything in terms of democracy and community.

Posted by Dave Johnson at May 4, 2005 11:59 AM

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Comments

I kept waiting for the news re Terri Schiavo to turn towards discussing the dangers of eating disorders, but of course it didn't. Could have been productive.

Posted by: Hannah at May 4, 2005 12:33 PM

This is perhaps the most simple and brilliant thing I have read all day. I often blog news stories like the runaway bride because I think it is stupid that we are paying attention to them. They are invariably the stories that get me the most traffic. I’ve never thought about it in this context.

Posted by: Ryan Maynard at May 4, 2005 1:06 PM

I saw this on Kos and it seems many people are really taken with this argument. I'm not. I think it is just the old frustration over Democrats' seeming inability to tackle the opposition directly in a new guise. Taking infotainment items and trying to turn them to 'our' purpose will, I think, quickly uncover the mistaken assumptions underlying that 'our'.

Posted by: Aunt Deb at May 4, 2005 2:01 PM

"mistaken assumptions underlying that 'our'"

Please explain what you mean. You seem to be saying that there is no Progressive "we" to that can fight back against the Right.

Posted by: Dave Johnson at May 4, 2005 2:27 PM

I'm with you Deb. I don't get it.

Posted by: richard at May 4, 2005 4:15 PM

The approach proposed by Steve, if I've understood it correctly, is that progressives should seize whatever is currently 'news' as defined by the major media and use that to talk about our positions. But the problem is that many of these so-called 'news' items are nothing more than trivial personal peccadillos, elevated to spurious significance by the very fact they make the 'news'. This invites all sorts of nebulously connected bullshit talk -- along the lines of David Brooks at his most Bobo-esque.

This sort of trivialization of important matters is precisely what I object to in the crazy family-value dittohead people and why I want a genuine way of talking about real problems in this country. The Schiavo case was not trivial. Terri Schiavo's death was terrible, not because of her eating disorder, but because of the insane insistence of a significant portion of our *government* that they had a right to make decisions concerning her rather than her legal guardian. The press and the television media fed this terrible situation by giving unquestioning publicity to the unsubstantiated claims of the parents and the 'protestors'.

I most certainly believe progressives can fight back against the rightwing fundamentalist-conservative bloc and I also believe it can and will be successful. I just don't think this idea of seizing upon every media feeding frenzy to talk about anything other than the fact that this sort of media 'news' coverage actively destroys democracy is wise.

Posted by: Aunt Deb at May 4, 2005 4:22 PM

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