The showdown over the future of journalism is happening right here in New Jersey. It’s between the editors of the Atlantic City Press and Tom Moran (and his acolytes) at the Star-Ledger (and elsewhere).
In October, the Atlantic City Press published an editorial which included these very remarkable lines: “Telling readers how to vote, however, is contrary to the mission of newspapers and other media, which is to extend the public’s experience and perspectives. News gathering organizations give the public eyes, ears and memory beyond the capability of an individual. People want them to be reliable and credible. When the media start making judgments, their audiences wonder if they’re altering their content to support that judgment too.”
“Altering their content to support (a) judgment”? Isn’t that what Jonathan Salant (pronounced S’lant) does every day? Isn’t his tongue so far up Editor Tom Moran’s perspective that it functions as a redundant tongue for Moran? Repetition, repetition, repetition… via Salanted coverage and outrageously partisan editorials… isn’t that what political propaganda is all about?
But don’t take our word for it. Here is Star-Ledger Editor Tom Moran himself, in his own words, in an editorial published just yesterday: “Voters will be standing in the booth Tuesday, and our core mission is helping them decide which lever to pull.”
Well shit, if swaying voters is your “core mission” shouldn’t you register as a political action committee? Afterall, the Star-Ledger is owned by some of the richest people in America – real 1 percenter scum – who have left no stone unturned in their relentless screwing over of working class union members and their families. If they are going to exist with their “core mission” to influence elections, shouldn’t there be some transparency? Or are we just going to let them operate in darkness – to use their billions and their paid whore mouthpieces like Tom Moran and Jonathan S’lant to keep screwing over working people and working class families?
Labor unions need to account for how their money is spent. So do political campaigns and lobbyists and special interests groups. So why not billionaire newspaper publishers whose “core mission” is helping voters decide which lever to pull?
What makes it worse is that the rich pricks who own these newspapers are subsidized with taxpayers’ money. They used their power and influence to lobby for a law that forces municipalities to buy advertisements in newspapers that could run for free on their own municipal websites. This not only vastly expands their carbon footprint, and with it the threat to environmental sustainability, but it turns beautiful green forests into shitty pulp factories. End the taxpayers’ subsidy unless the newspapers institute some transparency!
Now for some thoughts on the conduct of the campaign season that will come to a close on Tuesday.
The two major parties have starkly different ideas on how to conduct a political campaign. The Democrats are all about the grassroots. They raise money from their grassroots. They make use of their grassroots base and their allies to prepare the ground, soften up their opponents, and inform their candidates. You see it in these debates, with the Democrat candidates constantly referencing some conversation or concern with a real or mythical human being in the district
Most insiders don’t get what’s happening here because they are creatures of Trenton or Washington or politics – but it skews the outsider perspective into one where the battles appear to be between “a representative of the government” (call him the Sheriff of Nottingham) and “a movement or collective of people” who are speaking through this individual who appears to be on their side and fighting for them (call him Robin Hood). It is moving under the surface and goes beyond the traditional ideas of scoring debate points, which most pundits seem to focus on.
The Democrats have the advantage here because they still have a grassroots that they have a relationship with and can work with and that depends on and works with them. Because of their symbiotic relationship, the Democrats’ grassroots is well-funded enough to produce a harvest of volunteers, money, and votes for regular Democrat candidates. Yes, there is a tinge of radicalism to much of this grassroots, but they appear to understand when to tone it down or keep it underground. That’ probably because they are helped in their financing by the regular Democrats.
Republicans have largely decommissioned their grassroots in the Garden State, with campaigns becoming smaller and smaller “entrepreneurial” enterprises outside state and county party organizations. The answer to everything is some new service or technology offered by some for-profit wunderkind. The idea of motivating people with a message, of reaching out to one’s natural allies and of making them a part of a mission is utterly superfluous to this style of campaigning.
And so, in keeping with this, Democrat candidates talk about the people they have met and what they have learned from them, while Republicans land the punches rehearsed in barren settings, devoid of anyone not political. If the Democrats are real. If the stories are not make believe. If there is a depth of humanity to back each one up… look out on election day.
Finally, the talking heads who bracket these televised debates – both Democrats and Republicans – appear to forget that the same audience viewing the debate, is viewing them. Cut the gentlemanly bullshit and get to work. Rip the opponent worse than your candidate did (hey, your name isn’t on the ballot). It’s the same damned debate, the same viewers, you are just a different means to deliver the message and continue the fight. So get in the killer point that your candidate forgot. Be a good wing man. Shoot the bastard down.
Besides, nobody wants to see a self-reverential daisy chain of colorless “experts” or “professionals”. Get into the mud and fight!