Saturday, March 19, 2005

Doyle's question about international publications cited

Doyle: I have a question and I hope you'll address it at the site. This Sunday (like some before), you did a post on news from the world going to various sites. Are you aware that the US can use propoganda overseas? And if you are, how do you make sure the article you are linking to is true? I'm wondering what I'm supposed to trust in an entry like that? (I'm not trying to be another Frank in Orlando.)

It's a good question and a good point. On those posts, we're going around the world quickly and limited to English language sites. These are stories that are being published elsewhere. Could they be part of a propaganda blitz from the United States? That's certainly possible.

But no one should ever come to this site and think because something by anyone (another member, me, a voice that speaks to us) is posted here it's "end of story" time. We don't clutch the pearls, we don't play gatekeeper.

I can be wrong (and often am) (on more than typos), so the point is never "__ said it, so it's true!" The point is, think for yourself and do your own research. We're a resource/review for the left. And we're trying to note voices that speak to us that we don't see on the alphabet soup networks. We're not trying to build groupies (but you're welcome to be a groupie if that's "your bag"), but we are trying to build awareness.

If your at a party and you hear someone saying, "___ is the best broadcaster in television" from one of the networks, maybe you'll be able to say, "Well, actually, I think Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now! hold that title."

If at work someone's saying that they have a firm grip on an issue because they've read David Broder and George Will, after you make sure they don't need medical treatment, you can point out that Broder ("dean" or not) is a centerist and reading the two does not represent the full range of opinion. You might toss out something Matthew Rothschild or Ruth Conniff (both of The Progressive) wrote or something you read by Alexander Cockburn (or someone else at CounterPunch), or you might toss out the two Ks from The Nation: Katrina vanden Huevel and Katha Pollitt. That's a very short list of examples.

If someone's discussing the way the media played a story and harping on whatever "wisdom" they heard on Fox "News," you might be able to cite Jude at Iddybud or Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler.

Dahr Jamail, Naomi Klein, Danny Schechter, Leah and the gang at corrente, Tom Hayden, Ms. Musing, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Ron of Why Are We Back In Iraq?, the gang at The Third Estate Sunday Review, Folding Star of A Winding Road and others are all voices speaking their truth and their perspective.

If those voices (any, some, all) speak to you, great. If they don't, you're at least aware of them.
And when you see some "faux" liberal on TV (or hear them on radio), you know you haven't gotten a true left opinion.

Which is not to say that all those linked agree. In terms of our side links, Bill Scher and Bob Somerby recently had a different takes on the Sunday chat & chews. But that's because they're not working from talking points. They're speaking as individual voices.

And it's certainly okay to disagree. And it's okay to note that and to try to figure out the source of disagreement. But there is a wide range of true left voices and you haven't heard or seen them very often (in some cases not at all) on your TV screens in recent years.

When Cokie Roberts can get away with responding to a question about any dissenting voices with "none that mattered," you've got a pretty good idea of how insular "discussions" have become. A member wrote recently about the McLaughlin Group and stated Eleanor Clift was a voice who speaked to her. She wondered why I didn't include them in the chat & chew. First of all, the show doesn't air on Sundays everywhere. Second of all, I haven't been able to find listings for upcoming guests. (The e-mail is if anyone knows where the links for those are.)

I agree with the member that Clift's been a brave voice. And that's she often overlooked. But at a time when many of the "left" chose to sit in front of the TV cameras on these shout fests and purse their lips or smile serenely, Clift got down into the mud and fought back. She made herself heard and on the shout-fests, if you're not doing that, you're not getting any attention.

But I really have no use personally for the chat & chews. That's me. The opinions aren't wide ranging enough. And, like Rebecca, I'm sick of seeing and hearing staff from The New Republic as they and their magazine are presented as "liberal" when they aren't.

And anyone who's followed Bob Somerby's writings at The Daily Howler for very long is fully aware that there are things you can and cannot challenge. On Whitewater or any topic. (James Wolcott's Attack Poodles is a great book and it too has a great deal to say about the chat & chews.)

So they don't speak to me, but if they do you, watch. And hopefully, when you watch you're aware of how limited the topics are and how non-inclusive the shows are in terms of viewpoints, in terms of race, in terms of gender. (In terms of sexuality as well but who knows who's in the closet?)

But when we're highlighting voices it's with the hopes that we can all increase in our knowledge of who's out there from the left. I know that I've learned a great deal from voices that members have drawn attention to.

And, to get back to Doyle's question, if we're spotlighting an article in the Sunday Herald or wherever, you know that's being talked about. Whether or not it's true, that's for you to do the work required. I'm not your parent and as far as I know no infants read this site. Translation, don't look for spoon-feeding here. Everyone should be prepared to do their own work.

If you have criticism of a story we link to, do yourself and everyone a favor by writing in about it and noting that it's for the community and not a private e-mail. The point is not less voices, it's more voices.

[Note: This post was done on Wednesday. Doyle was advised via e-mail that the answer to his question would post on Saturday.]