Josh Silver, the Executive Director of Free Press a media reform group, wrote a piece at the Huffington Post a few days ago urging Glenn Beck to “Stop the Insanity”, tying beck to “Charles Coughlin’s hate speeches”
Looking back, it’s hard to believe that Father Charles Coughlin’s hate speeches were broadcast into millions of homes during the 1930s. Coughlin’s anti-Semitic rants incited prejudice and violence. Now, in the Internet age, it seems positively antiquated that one person could have such a powerful soapbox to engage in fear-mongering and hate speech.
In Silver’s Huffington Post article, he argues that Beck launched a smear campaign against Van Jones, and calls Van Jones “one of the great, principled leaders of our time”:
In the last month, Beck launched a smear campaign against one of Obama’s top environmental advisers and forced his resignation. Van Jones is one of the great, principled leaders of our time, and he was unceremoniously hung out to dry while the White House quietly acquiesced to the agents of fear.
Silver also offers a video of Van Jones speaking to Free Press’s 2008 media reform conference that ends with “join the fight for real journalism”. Van Jones also spoke the year before here. At 5:30 Van Jones calls 2007 the tipping point of the “media justice movement”. Jones is also on the board of Free Press, and Free Press defended him and attacked Beck in a statement saying that “our leaders have a responsibility to condemn fear-mongering … and support a more diverse media system that provides alternative voices to the likes of Glenn Beck” and “calls on [the] Obama administration to resist extremism in the media”:
“That Fox News Channel lets Beck use its media megaphone to stir up hatred and fear of others is repulsive, divisive and beyond all common sense or decency. By giving Beck a nightly platform for such McCarthy-esque witch hunts and smear campaigns, the national news network undermines our democracy. But Fox News is not alone. Unfortunately, this kind of rant is endemic to a media system that cares about ratings far more than about the truth.”Beck has a First Amendment right to stoke prejudice, and we do not and will not support efforts to silence him. This is not about censorship; it’s about sanity. Our leaders have a responsibility to condemn fear mongering in all its forms, defend those who are unfairly attacked, and support a more diverse media system that provides alternative voices to the likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and other extremists. The lesson from the shameful McCarthy era that culminated in 1954 is that we must confront the politics of personal attack with decency, reason and a commitment to more political speech, not less.
Free Press even has a petition to “Tell President Obama: Glenn Beck Doesn’t Speak for Me” and tries to raise money off of it.So who is Free Press? It’s founder and president says that the media is a major impediment to socialist revolution.Free Press’s Founder and President is Robert McChesney. McChesney gave an interview about media reform to an online magazine called The Bullet, published by the Canadian Socialist Project. In that interview, he said that “unless you make significant changes in the media, it will be vastly more difficult to have a revolution”:
There was a traditional Left response available at the time: “we understand that the media is not separate from, but an integral part of how capitalist power is upheld in society; when we make the revolution or the revolution just happens, the problem of the media will be resolved then.” This was an unsophisticated answer. Of course, very few people on the Left were that simplistic. Many understood that the battle over the media, just like the battle over the workplace, was a key part of engaging with and contesting power. Educating people about the media and fighting to make changes in the short-term, not just in the long term, became of utmost importance. Instead of waiting for the revolution to happen, we learned that unless you make significant changes in the media, it will be vastly more difficult to have a revolution. While the media is not the single most important issue in the world, it is one of the core issues that any successful Left project needs to integrate into its strategic program.
And how does he do that? His first issue is net neutrality. In Van Jones’ long speech above, he discusses net neutrality at 18:00. But here is Free Press’s Founder, Robert McChesney:
TM: What are the most significant sites of political struggle for media democracy activists in the U.S. today?RM: There are three overriding and connected issues that are central to media democracy activism in the United States.The first issue is the Internet. The battle for network neutrality is to prevent the Internet from being privatized by telephone and cable companies. Privatization would give them control over the Internet, would allow these firms to privilege some information flows over others. We want to keep the Internet open. What we want to have in the U.S. and in every society is an Internet that is not private property, but a public utility. We want an Internet where you don’t have to have a password and that you don’t pay a penny to use. It is your right to use the Internet. The benefits of a public Internet are numerous. It would end the digital divide, which remains a very serious problem in the U.S. and worldwide. […]At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies. We are not at that point yet. But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.
This brings us all back to Josh Silver. This same Josh Silver co-authored a report by Free Press and the Center for American Progress called for Fairness Doctrine like reforms:
The disparities between conservative and progressive programming reflect the absence of localism in American radio markets. This shortfall results from the consolidation of ownership in radio stations and the corresponding dominance of syndicated programming operating in economies of scale that do not match the local needs of all communities.
But Silver went further than most have gone in his Center for American Progress report. He said the Fairness Doctrine, which would force government controlled balance between the left and right online, does not go far enough. Why not? Because it would still allow competing ideas and not just the uniform opinion of the far left to get out on the airwaves.Silver wrote:
Simply reinstating the Fairness Doctrine will do little to address the gap between conservative and progressive talk unless the underlying elements of the public trustee doctrine are enforced, in particular, the requirements of local accountability and the reasonable airing of important matters. The key principle here is not shutting down one perspective or another—it is making sure that communities are informed about a range of local and national public affairs.
In other words, the government should get to decide what “important matters” get discussed on radio.What’s the connection between Free Press and the Center for American Progress? Van Jones. He’s on the Board of Free Press and a Fellow at the Center for American Progress. Both entities are intent on shutting down Glenn Beck. They also want to shut down Hannity, Rush, Levin, and every other conservative voice on radio.