Feeling “left” out?

Despite all the demonising talk of liberals, socialists, progressives, and other left wing types, there is a surprisingly little attention paid to their activities in the US Main Stream Media. In fact, the astroturf tea party movement receives an out of proportion amount of attention. Of course, that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

For example, the fact that the Tea Party Convention this February received more coverage than the U.S. Social Forum convention held last June, five days of strategizing, organizing and activism inspired by the 2001 World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The Social Forum, in Detroit, drew an estimated 15,000–20,000 progressive activists from around the country, while the Tea Party Convention in Nashville hosted a meager 600 attendees. Compare the two “activist” gatherings striving for political and social change, one at least 25 times larger than the other—but the smaller one received the larger share of the media coverage. Across 10 major national outlets in the two weeks surrounding each event, the Tea Party got 177 mentions to the Social Forum’s three. Per participant, the Tea Party got 1,500 times as many mentions!

The U.S. Social Forum was subject to a virtual news blackout in the USMSM! Aside from local coverage, the only corporate media mentions found in the Nexis database came from Glenn Beck (Fox News, 6/29/10, 6/30/10)—warning viewers about “socialists and communists coming out of the woodwork to co-opt the youth and spread a dangerous disease”—and Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, a guest on John King’s CNN show (6/30/10).

The U.S. Social Forum’s archive of news coverage can be found here.

I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise to me that the left receives virtually no coverage in the USMSM: especially in the current economy. In fact, the choices which are presented to the US public are incredibly distasteful: republican, democrat, or “tea party”. The libertarian ideology is one which receives far more press than it deserves, but no surprise since Rupert Murdoch’s newscorp is a contributor to the Cato Foundation.

On the other hand, it is encouraging that the U.S. Social Forum could raise the level of participation it did despite the MSM News Blackout. An estimated attendance of 15,000–20,000 isn’t bad given that few people heard about this. Not to mention that Detroit is a dead city. I wonder what the level of participation would have been had the U.S. Social Forum had better coverage?

It is encouraging to see movements such as the U.S. Social Forum appearing. I wish that they received far more attention and that they will receive the amount of attention they deserve. Although, as I keep mentioning, the policies needed to address inequality (even if it means more jobs) “will always be controversial since they mean neutralising the advantages of wealth. A prospect that those with money and influence will fight hard against.”

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