Wednesday, October 17 , 2018, 5:07 am | Fair 50º

 
 
 
 

David Sirota: Right Is Not Center, But 2010 Resembles 1984

Newspeak by today's media voices skews the terms of political debate

“War is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength” — more than a quarter-century after those oxymorons were supposed to pervade an Orwellian 1984, today’s media make such newspeak even more preposterous: On economic issues, we are often told that right is center, center is left and left is fringe.

David Sirota
David Sirota

For a year, national reporters (with help from conservative talk-radio goons) have depicted the center-right Obama administration and its corporatist policies as quasi-Marxist. We’ve heard that a government-run public health-care option is a “liberal” cause, even as polls confirm that most Americans — not just liberals — support the idea. We’re told that legislators backing no-strings-attached bank bailouts are mainstream “centrists,” while bailout opponents are extremists — even as public opinion surveys say the opposite.

This is Washington’s “fair and balanced” journalism (or “journalism,” as it were) and as two of the most respected metro newspapers showed last week, its distortions can bleed into local coverage.

Reporting on independent Bernie Sanders, The Boston Globe headlined its recent profile: “Sanders a growing force on the far, far left — Vermont senator is gathering clout as he takes on the Fed’s Ben Bernanke.”

Polls, mind you, prove that disdain for the Federal Reserve chairman transcends “the left.” As a failed regulator and architect of unpopular bailouts, Bernanke is despised by the public at large. Even within the Senate, his renomination faces transpartisan opposition from Republicans such as Jim Bunning of Kentucky and red-state Democrats such as Byron Dorgan of North Dakota.

So depicting Sanders’ fight against Bernanke as a “far, far left” crusade tilts the definition of the economic “center” — the premium label in politics — to the far, far right.

Then came a Denver Post editorial (in fairness, billed honestly as opinion) urging the city’s mayor, restaurateur and Democrat John Hickenlooper, to run for governor.

In an earlier interview with the paper’s editors, Hickenlooper told the Post that his candidacy will be motivated by his belief that “there should be a lot more people in government who come out of the business community.”

The Post responded in its editorial not by pointing out that the business-government revolving door is already spinning out of control, nor by noting that we’re approaching the historical zenith of corporate-government corruption. Instead, the newspaper gushed.

“Even though he governs a left-leaning city, Hickenlooper has been a pro-business Democrat ... making (city services) more cost-effective,” the paper wrote, before criticizing Hickenlooper’s potential Democratic rival, Rep. Ed Perlmutter, as unacceptably “farther to the left than Colorado’s electorate.”

Notice the suggestion of conflict between “left-leaning” and “pro-business.” There was no mention that the politicians typically labeled “pro-business” were the same ones who pushed deregulatory schemes that destroyed so many businesses in this recession. Likewise, there was no mention that more “left-leaning” initiatives might have averted the disaster.

Notice, too, the technocratic euphemism describing old-line conservatism: “Cost effective” is code for a mayor who most recently threatened layoffs unless police agreed to give up previously negotiated pay raises.

And, most important, notice the newspaper’s line about Perlmutter. Unlike Hickenlooper, this eminently moderate congressional Democrat with ties to organized labor has twice won a formerly Republican swing district that is a microcosm of his state. Perlmutter, in fact, is living proof that pragmatically progressive economic credentials aren’t “farther to the left” than the electorate — they are squarely in the election-winning center.

The Globe and Post examples, of course, epitomize the larger problem that arises when media voices — whether deliberately or inadvertently — skew the terms of our political debate. War is not peace and right is not center. But such newspeak to the contrary can destructively alter the public’s perception of acceptable and unacceptable, possible and impossible.

David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books Hostile Takeover and The Uprising. He hosts the morning show on AM 760 in Colorado and blogs at OpenLeft.com. Click here for more information. He can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.