Media: What is it good for?

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Are government-funded “news” broadcasts legal? Are they propaganda? California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Bush administration have both come under quite a bit of fire regarding their use of pre-packaged “public releases,” which are basically government-produced video segments made to look like independent reporting. The General Accounting Office (GAO) called the segments “propaganda,” but that whip-cracking hardly seemed to faze the Bush administration, which has made it clear it will continue with its “news” production.

It would be easy to rant on about the evils of government propaganda, but an even more disturbing issue is at work here. The Bush administration has refused to stop producing these news videos, it seems, because they don’t see anything wrong with them, and don’t think that independent media serves any unique purpose. After all, White House Chief of Staff Andy Card said back in January that he didn’t think the press had a “check and balance function.” Likewise, the president himself once told a reporter, “You’re assuming that you represent the public. I don’t accept that.”

Unfortunately, the White House has more or less made these assertions true. The fact that the administration was able to buy off journalists like Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and Michael McManus nicely illustrates that many journalists really don’t represent the public. And with news networks failing to make amply clear that these “news” segments they broadcasted were funded by the government, the media’s function as a check-and-balance goes out the window too.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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