The Political analysts that appear on Fox, MSNBC, CNN and other news outlets will have you believe that they are all fair and balanced in their analysis of specific issues or incidents.
Nothing could be farther from the truth in most cases. Many times, these folks have another job as a Lobbyist, Consultant or sit on the Board of huge corporations. This is known as, per The Nation, The Media-Lobbying Complex. Fits don’t ya think? And this happens on both sides of the political aisle. From The Nation:
For lobbyists, PR firms and corporate officials, going on cable television is a chance to promote clients and their interests on the most widely cited source of news in the United States. These appearances also generate good will and access to major players inside the Democratic and Republican parties. For their part, the cable networks, eager to fill time and afraid of upsetting the political elite, have ofteBut n looked the other way. At times, the networks have even disregarded their own written ethics guidelines. Just about everyone involved is heavily invested in maintaining the current system, with the exception of the viewer.
While lobbyists and PR flacks have long tried to spin the press, the launch of Fox News and MSNBC in 1996 and the Clinton impeachment saga that followed helped create the caldron of twenty-four-hour political analysis that so many influence peddlers call home. Since then, guests with serious conflicts of interest have popped up with alarming regularity on every network. Just examine their presence in coverage of the economic crash and the healthcare reform debate, two recent issues that have engendered massive cable coverage.
I realize that not all lobbyists are carpetbagging fucks. Some actually have the best interests of the public in mind when they go on these shows. But the problem is…how do we know, if full disclosure isn’t made, when introducing the so-called analyst?
We don’t know. And therein lies the problem. An example would be Richard Wolffe, a left-leaning contributor on MSNBC. I like Wolffe and usually agree with his assessment on whatever issue he is contributing to at the moment. He is part of a public relations group, Public Strategies, that helps corporations fix their images when they go south. The problem lies in the fact that we are bombarded with these ‘contributors’ when there is a specific issue heating up. Again, from The Nation link:
Janine Wedel, an anthropologist in the School of Public Policy at George Mason University and author of the new book Shadow Elite, told me in a recent interview that while these influence peddlers are not necessarily unethical, they “elude accountability to governments, shareholders and voters–and threaten democracy.”
“When there’s a whole host of pundits on the airwaves touting the same agenda at the same time, you get a cumulative effect that shapes public opinion toward their agenda,” she said.
Frequent television news commentators are also often given access to policy-makers, who may find that they are meeting with not just a TV pundit but also a paid lobbyist. This past March, for example, the White House held an exclusive “communications message meeting” for high-profile Democratic strategists with top presidential aide David Axelrod. Of the eighteen attendees, almost all television regulars, a third were lobbyists or public relations flacks, such as Kelly Bingel, a lobbyist for AHIP and a partner at mega-firm Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti, and Rich Masters, a partner at PR/lobbying outfit Qorvis Communications, where he works on behalf of trade group Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).
It makes you wonder every time you see one of these fuckers on tv….who are they representing…we the people..or some fucking corporation. As Wedel explains, these assholes can shape public opinion…and that can be a dangerous thing when it’s done undercover by someone acting as a knowledgeable, unbiased expert.