I watch and read a lot of mainstream news right now because that is what the public consumes. Now there are great leftist media sources out there I like to watch/read, such as DemocracyNow!, Libcom.org, or even the centrist PBS Newshour. But most Americans do not watch or listen to those outlets. What they do read/watch is FOX News, CNN.com, and whatever else flows across their social media news feeds. And the one thing I observe in the mainstream media most glaringly in terms of a leftist movement is the argument made by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky in their classic analysis “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.”
Herman and Chomsky argue in MC that there is only so wide of a spectrum of allowable opinions which can be covered and/or expressed by journalists and/or pundits. E.g., The “Medicare-for-All” movement which, I admit, has finally started to squeeze in to the margins of discourse, has been outside of the spectrum of possibilities for decades. The journalists and pundits always put forth the arguments that it would be too expensive, or that it would lead down the slippery slope towards Soviet-style communism. But according to a Nov. 7, 2018, AP poll, nearly 6 in 10 voters said it should be the responsibility of the federal government to make sure that all Americans have health care coverage. So, the majority of people want, following that simple logic, a Medicare-For-All law, a public option, or a fully socialized healthcare system. And even though all other industrialized countries have healthcare provided to there citizens by the government, it has always been off the spectrum of acceptable media discourse here in the U.S. until the last few months, I estimate.
Therefore, leftists must widen that spectrum to the left the best ways we can. Rather it be on a blog, or podcast, or through social media, we must provide an alternative to the mainstream news because we mostly control these media. Even though we can complain about FB or Twitter suspending accounts in the name of “proper discourse,” it’s still the Wild West out there. If we spread the word, like what has happened with Bernie Sanders’ supporters who first argued for Medicare-for-All in 2016, we can expand the spectrum. But this will be tough, e.g, the public has supported stricter gun laws for decades, yet NRA lobbyists keep it taboo on the GOP congressional floor. But if we remain tenacious in our efforts, we can affectively expand the mainstream media’s spectrum of acceptable discourse.
The mainstream media is influenced by blog posts and Tweets, if even subconsciously through retweets and responses read by readers, but do not think it is going to happen overnight. Yet it shouldn’t be given up on by good radical leftists all over the world.